|New Canadian citizens take the oath on the Commissioner's lawn. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the September 1st on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 28 page Aug 29th hard copy edition. Wish we could share everything, but getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all. Approximately 230 people viewed our last on-line issue.
by Dan Davidson
The Discovery Days weekend defied all the weather forecast and rained only when it didn't matter, perfectly fulfilling Senator Ione Christiansen's memories of year's past. During one of the many events she attended over the weekend, she told the crowd that she had never attended a weekend which as ruined by weather.
It did not rain during the parade, which reversed its usual route, beginning at the old highway yard on Fifth Avenue and ending on the dyke greensward off Front Street. This refocussed the crowd's attention onto Front Street, where many of the major ceremonies and events were scheduled to take place.
It was here that the Tribute to the Miner (see story) was unveiled and dedicated.
It was here that the Millennium Trail was officially declared open and the Family Bicycle Relay was held to mark the occasion.
The Horticultural and Craft Display tent was set up here.
The Journeys Through Yukon Time (see separate story) arrived just on the other side of the dyke on Saturday, as did the NMI Mobility Yukon River Bathtub Race (see separate story) the next day.
It was just up the street, at the Commissioner's Residence, that the second territorial Citizenship Court of the summer was held on Saturday afternoon.
Some of the kids' games and horse rides did alas, get hit by the rain, which was tumultuous when it fell for a time each day, but the shower did not deter the Klondike Krunch demo derby from rocking the North End under the Moosehide Slide.
For those not caught up in the other events there were ball tournaments at Minto Park and at the New Ball Diamond under Crocus Bluff and a ball hockey contest in the Minto park tennis court.
For those too tired to organize their mornings, there were two pancake breakfasts at the Curling Club.
by Dan Davidson
While taking an oath of allegiance to one's new country can be nerve wracking enough, it is probably safe to say that many of the participants and their guests at the August 19 Citizen's Court in Dawson City were probably almost as worried about whether the downpour of a couple of hours earlier would make a fresh appearance.
Fourteen people from ten different countries were gathered on the front lawn of the Commissioner's Residence to participate in this solemn. yet joyful, ceremony before the platform part assembled on the verandah.
Leslie Rowe, of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, was in charge of the event, assisted by Constable Sandra Mark, who opened and closed the ceremony.
On hand to administer the Oath of Allegiance was Order of Canada member Sandra Henderson, who also spoke briefly of the many rights, freedoms and responsibilities enjoyed by Canadian citizens.
"Becoming a Canadian citizen," she said, "marks the beginning of your full membership in Canada. Many of you have travelled far and worked very hard to be here. You decided to leave your homelands and find a new life in a new country. Your decision to come to Canada meant adapting to a new culture, a new climate, and for some of you, a new language.
"Your choice gives us the occasion to affirm our pride in our country."
Senator Ione Christensen spoke about the symbolism of the ceremony and the weather, of the clouds that rolled away after the refreshing rain; of the Journey in Time canoeists who arrived that same afternoon, and of the miner's statue which was dedicated and off the Millennium Trail dedication which linked us to the future and to the whole country. These, she thought, were fine symbols with which to surround a Citizenship Court.
The Hon. Pam Buckway, Minister of Justice, delivered a greeting from the Yukon people and from the federal government.
"Our mountain ranges, rivers and wildlife are a coveted addition to the nation's beauty. Our people are survivors, rich in heritage, talent and a sense of adventure. We are a distinct part of the colourful tapestry that is called Canada. Today, this country is your country."
Mayor Glen Everitt related the tale of German hitchhiker he had once picked up, a would-be immigrant who had overstayed his time here and was living from job to job while he avoided leaving.
This grandfather had left his homeland to seek out the country his father had come from, and now that he was here, he couldn't stand to go back. It was, he told Everitt, like having someone give you candy for the first time and then demanding it back after you had had just a taste. Everitt's small courtesies - a ride a cup of coffee, the offer of a place to sleep - were, to him, the very symbols of what he had come here to find.
"It's what's inside the people's hearts that make this their home, that makes you a Canadian," Everitt said. "On behalf of the citizens of Dawson, welcome to our family."
The formal part of the ceremony ended with the of "O Canada", led by Michael Davidson, a Museum guide and recent high school graduate.
The ceremony was followed by a reception on the verandah.
by Dan Davidson
The Journeys Through Yukon Time project wrapped up a two week long river travel experience when its four separate strands came together along the Dawson waterfront on August 19.
Along the way the young people and supporters who invested time in the project learned about the Pelly, Teslin, Stewart and Yukon rivers, participated in the rescue of some German tourists, witnessed a marriage proposal, got very wet and had a great time.
While the end of the trek was officially at Dawson, the trekkers really wrapped it all up the night before, 43 kilometres (27 miles) upstream, at Marjorie and Peter Kormendy's Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp, the place where they all came together after having been so far apart for so long.
The Kormendys laid on a great spread for the celebratory feast and played host to an evening of sharing experiences and a few silly songs and skits.
Their arrival at Ancient Voices was acknowledged Chief Darren Taylor of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Mayor Glen Everitt of Dawson, who joined in the feast and the fun.
The Journey was the brainchild of Jim Boyde, who has canoed just about every river in the Yukon and has, by the sound of his emotion filled speech to the youngsters that night, a rather spiritual connection to water and wilderness travel.
A younger fellow with a similar love of the outdoors is Trevor Braun, who is so fond of rivers that he and Jane Vincent named their son after the Pelly, which flows by Trevor's boyhood home of Faro. If further evidence were needed, it came at the end of this trip, when Trevor proposed to Jane, who accepted, in front of the entire assembly of campers and guests.
Trevor was also the leader of the Pelly group of voyageurs, who encountered and assisted the German tourists who suffered a bear attack along their route earlier in the month.
The idea of Journeys through Yukon Time was to replicate all the ways in which people have used the waterways of the Yukon over the last
"I've worked with Jim," said Braun, "over the last 6 or 7 years on our trips with youth through Jim's ACES program. Jim had an idea to do a millennium project and I've got lots of energy."
It took two years to turn their initial discussions and all that energy into a tangible product.
The idea turned into four river expeditions on the Stewart, Pelly, Teslin and Yukon Rivers, which would run concurrently from August 8 to 19, 2000. The Pelly, Teslin and Yukon river trips began on August 8 and the Stewart River trip on August 12. Each trip had one leader and two assistant leaders.
The boats were selected to echo the four stages of Yukon water travel. From the first nation era came the traditional kayak-form canoes, a Netsilik kayak, a 22-foot "moose" skin boat, and Nootka dugout canoes.
Then came the early explorer and fur trade era which was represented by wood and canvas canoes, and a 26-foot Voyageur "canot du nord".
The Gold Rush experience was celebrated with hand built lapstrake row boats, as symbols of those that were hammered together on the shores of Lake Bennett.
The modern day use of paddled boats seems primarily to be canoes, which are seen as recreational vessels rather than as working boats. Contemporary-styled touring kayaks and canoes were fashioned in wood to represent our modern time.
In addition, Inspector John Grant of the R.C.M.P. made available the force's replica Nootka boat and Doug Lemond supplied a somewhat less traditional second Nootka replica.
On all of the boats that had used skin coverings in their day, more modern materials, such as kevlar and ballistic nylon were used for the outer shells.
Braun, who doesn't mind a little headwind and daily precipitation, called the trip a wonderful experience and said they had great weather. The young people were a little less enthusiastic than that in their sharing time later on, but no one denied that it was a great experience.
Braun hopes that, now that the start-up obstacles have been overcome and the routes proven, Journeys could become a regular event, perhaps annual, with other trips as well. But other people need to step forward to run the society, because he needs to back off from this level of involvement and get back to making a living. he and his partner run Jane and Trevor's Adventure Network out of Whitehorse.
It was a close thing this year.
"Up until two weeks before it looked like we only had a dozen people. It was another case of 'believe in it and build it and they will come'."
Eventually there were 35 youth participants and 12 leaders and assistant leaders, many of whom just appeared out of nowhere at the last minute.
Braun thinks that Journeys has a lot of potential. He's hoping that the parents of the youth who took this year's trip will want to get involved, and that the older teens themselves will, also.
"I think it's time for this sort of thing to happen in the Yukon. We've got such a gift here in the Yukon in the wilderness. Other that the TEST (ski) program it's pretty much been forgotten.
"There's a few programs in the schools, but not much. All the communities have curling rinks and ice rinks and rec centres. Those are facilities that cost thousands and thousands of dollars to run where to do a canoe trip or other outdoor program is relatively cheap."
Besides, he adds, they're good for the heart and the lungs and the mind and maybe even the pocketbook
"If people want to promote tourism, then we're really gonna have to look at how we train young people that work in the industry."
Summer camps and activities like Journeys are where a lot of the guides that Braun sees coming into the Yukon from Outside got their start, and he says we just don't have those programs here yet.
As the four expeditions converged on Dawson City just after noon the next day, a cheer when up from the dyke, where people celebrating Discovery Days took time out from their activities to welcome them.
Many of the details about the trip and the boats can be read and seen at the Journeys website: "http://www.yukonyouth.com/Journeys/thesite.html"
by Dan Davidson
Halin de Repentigny likes to work on a large canvas. His latest project, part of the Klondike Centennial Society's millennium celebrations, has certainly given him the opportunity to do just that.
Late last week, de Repentigny, a portable crane and a couple of workers were finally able to hang the 24 by 7 foot framed mural on the side of the KCS Building on Third Avenue.
The mural is in seven sections, each depicting some portion of the Klondike's history and legend. From left to right (or west to east on a project this size) we see the life of the First Nations people, the discovery of gold, and the Stampede.
In the centre of the painting a can-can girl hovers over an aerial view of Dawson when it was a tent city. The sixth section shows the creeks, with placer miners, hard rock shafts and dredges side by side. The final scene is a modern winter streetscape, with the Old Post Office on King Street as the reference point.
There have been a number of Dawson buildings with painted walls in the past, and the artist himself has done larger work. One such mural is on the north wall of the multi-purpose room in the Tro'chu'tin Heritage Centre, a celebration of Han culture which is well worth seeing. This picture, however, must easily be the largest hanging painting, with the largest picture hooks, in the Yukon.
by Tara McCauley
The evening of August 17th, the ODD Gallery hosted the opening of its new exhibit, "Overlay". It features pieces by several Yukon women artists many of whom are locals. The artists whose works are presented include: Palma Berger, Lynn Blaikie, Philomena Carroll, Pat Ellis, Heidi Hehn, Cynthia Hunt, Tia McLennan, Meshelle Melvin, Janet Moore, CJ Pettigrew, Joanne Seaman, Joann Vriend, and Kristi Wallace.
The word "overlay" is a general term for shelter and is the theme for the exhibit. Each piece reflects the individual artist's impression of shelter. As described in the introduction, written by Kim Marceau, "The idea of emotional strength and physical safety is demonstrated throughout the exhibition as the artists explore the subtler aspects of what Philomena Carroll describes as "both refuge and shield...from behind which we explore the world around us.""
The fourteen pieces represent a number of different artistic styles and media including: acrylic and oil paints on canvas, oil on wood, batik on cotton, pastels on paper, the use of textiles including quilting and collage, photography, pottery and mixed media.
The show, which opened the weekend of Discovery Days, was a prelude of sorts to the Women's Celebration 2000. This weekend-long celebration of northern women, hosted by the Dawson Women's Shelter, includes key-note speakers, workshops, a dinner, & concert that took place this past weekend. (See next issue for coverage.)
The opening was well attended and many people were impressed and pleased that a show as unique as this one was able to come together in such a small community. It is indeed a credit to all the organizers and supporters. By the same token, it's not altogether surprising. Dawson seems to exceed all expectations.
The show runs until September 21st, 2000.
by Dan Davidson
"Some things are slower, but they're not as bad as what people think."
That's Gail Calder's summary of this summer's tourism season, and Calder, the office manager for the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, is in a position to hear a lot of the chatter that goes on around this subject.
"That's basically what I'm hearing," she said in mid-August.
"If you compare it to 97 or the last couple of years, which have been kind of exceptional, then it's down. But to compare it to an average year then things aren't that bad."
Calder said she'd heard from the Dawson City Museum just recently and director Paul Thistle was reporting a drop of 2%. Initial returns from the museum had seemed to be much worse, something like a 50% drop-off, and then they discovered that they'd been recording the numbers in wrong columns on their spreadsheets.
A couple of businesses, Deiter Reinmuth's Dawson City River Hostel and David Millar's Goldbottom Mining Tours, are reporting a steady increase in business, but Calder says most are not complaining about that very much.
"We haven't had any really bad complaints.
"The greatest complaint we've heard is that people can't get staff this year."
Over at Klondike Outreach, they're noticing a similar pattern. Staff indicate that a lot of jobs are posted and a lot are not getting filled. This is a change from the pattern of the last two or three years, where the job market was fairly tight.
Manager Penny Soderlund says that last year there was a bit of a labour shortage due to the number of people who got short term jobs at good pay fighting forest fires.
This year the attraction seems to be mushroom picking. While it's not a sure thing, the pay can be good enough that young people can make the money they need and then leave.
"It's been crazy this year," said Soderlund, who is in her ninth year at Klondike Outreach.
Klondike Outreach saw a total of 266 people registering for job search in May and June of this year, as opposed to 311 in 1999, 334 in 1998 and 317 in 1997.
"There's a different flavour every year," she said. "There are years when everybody's clean cut and other years when everybody needs a bath."
This year's group seemed to be weighted towards the transient workers. They don't arrive as early as the university crowd, and they don't tend to hold jobs for the same length of time. It's more like they're here long enough to finance the next stage of their trip and then they move on.
It isn't just here, of course. Soderlund's contacts indicate that Whitehorse businesses are having trouble filling positions as well. Out of curiosity she checked out the statistics from some other employment centres in communities with a similar profile as places in the Yukon and found the same thing was happening there.
by Dan Davidson
It is an uncharacteristically (for this year, at least) fine summer day as the crew of the Yukon Lou cast off the lines and Captain Bill Holmes takes us out into the muddy current of the Yukon River.
The matronly relaunch of the fabled little cruise vessel was delayed by a day while some inside paneling got replaced, and almost delayed by the failure of the insurance company to issue the policy on time. Those of us on this trip are all locals, guests and media, and we all signed waivers. After today that won't be necessary.
After all, the last time this boat sailed to Pleasure Island, it sank and had to be towed back to Dawson, which is where it's been sitting for just over a year.
No fear of that today, though. The seams are tight, the woodwork is clean and the engines - well, the engines are a marvel, according to Cap'n Bill, who last captained this boat some three years ago.
Actually, most of us have been on this boat at some point, either with school kids or with summer visitors, and we are in agreement that the Lou has a pep, vigor and smoothness that we just don't recall.
It's also a lot quieter. The new engines deliver the goods with a minimum of noise.
Being out on the river is a reminder that tens of thousands of Gold Rush trekkers first saw Dawson from this vantage point and that the waterways of the Yukon were the territory's transportation web for many decades. In this generation, of course, it is possible to live and work in Dawson and pay almost no attention to the river, except in the spring, when it creeps up the dyke; in mid-summer, when the ferry line-up is an annoyance; and during the month on either side of winter when the rapidly dwindling lifespan of the seasonal ice bridge makes the Yukon an obstacle.
In no time at all, we're downstream to Moosehide, swinging past that traditional Hän settlement and heading next door to Little Moosehide Island, which has been marketed as Pleasure Island for over two decades now. Cap'n Bill lands us on the beach with hardly a bump and Freda Roberts takes over.
Roberts has just taken on the task of reviving this tourist operation and redefining it to take on a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in emphasis for next season. This year's remaining weeks will follow the old program, she explains, handing out one of many brochures that came with the place.
Freda is clearly excited by her new challenge and takes great pleasure is shepherding us all over the island, which is a pleasant tramp.
Back at the big eating hall the staff are all ready for us with salmon pate and crackers, a huge salad and a festive chocolate cake (not to be part of the regular fare), along with tea and coffee. It's a mid afternoon feast and the light shower outside lasts only for the duration of our stay in the hall.
The trip back to Dawson is slower, battling an 8 knot current and taking time to swing past the stern wheeler graveyard on the west bank of the river.
We chug past the ferry landing just as the George Black is loading up. A local fisherman pulls alongside to show off his catch of King salmon. We pull smoothly into the dock and the ride is over.
The Yukon Lou will be plying the river until the end of the tourist season this year, breaking in the new staff and figuring out what parts of the old Yukon River Cruise operation that Chief Isaac Inc. wants to hold on to.
by Dan Davidson
The Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Robert Nault, has refused to sign the water license proposed by the Yukon Territory Water Board for the City of Dawson.
The decision became public in a letter mailed out by the water board on Friday, August 11, though the minister's decision had been forwarded to the board in a letter dated June 7, which was apparently received on June 14. The letter is actually addressed to Dale Eftoda, the Liberal cabinet minister who used to head the Water Board, which suggests that it might first have been drafted before the territorial election.
In his letter Nault indicates that he "cannot approve this licence as prepared by the Yukon Territory Water Board (YTWB)."
The reasons are rather complex, but date back almost two years to the application that the City of Dawson made to have its existing licence amended. It was council's hope at that time to have the requirement to build a secondary sewage treatment plant set aside in favour of an environmental screening plan.
The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs subjected this proposal to a screening process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and rejected the plan publicly before it ever got to the hearing stage, but the YTWB decided to hold the hearings anyway. In spite of DIAND's strenuous objections (and eventual walkout at the December 1998 hearings), the YTWB decided there was enough merit in the City of Dawson's argument to allow a preliminary study to be made.
That took the spring and summer of 1999, and this meant that the YTWB's final decision, which turned out to disregard most of Dawson's detailed study results, was not released until December of that year. Unusually, the report was released publicly before it got sent to Mr. Nault's office, where it has languished since February.
There have been persistent, but not reportable, rumours since that time that something was wrong with the report, and that the minister would not sign it, but Nault refused to confirm that speculation as late as the Dawson City International Gold Show on the third weekend in May.
The problem, according to his letter, is that the YTWB report before him is not the same document which received a CEAA screening in the fall of 1998. The YTWB has come up with a significantly different set of recommendations and these have not been CEAA screened, nor has a so-called "CEAA trigger" been included in the report.
The CEAA trigger would be used to set off needed mitigation measures in the event that something went dreadfully wrong with Dawson's sewage discharge plans.
Nault objects that licence MN98-021 "proposes to allow the construction of a secondary sewage treatment system for which the design, construction and operational details are not specified. Such details would only be provided several years hence.
"In addition, the licence does not make the subsequent review and approval of the project a requirement."
The minister goes on to say that the lack of these elements in the licence leave him "unable to discharge my responsibilities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. For these reasons I cannot approve Water Licence MN98-021."
The cover letter from the Water Board under the signature of Vice Chairperson Brian Lendrum, notes that the YTWB "regrets the inconclusive outcome to the proceeding" but also states that "The Board will be taking no further action regarding this application."
If this last statement seems odd, considering the time, effort and forest products which have been consumed by this matter, it is perhaps because the situation has changed.
The City of Dawson has abandoned its crusade to avoid secondary sewage treatment. Councillors still seem to feel that it isn't really necessary and that it is probably not money sell spent, but they've bowed to the reality that the national headlines and continual pressure are not going to go away. The city has an expensive study which states clearly that there is no environmental threat to the Yukon River from Dawson's discharge, but it seems that the science of the project doesn't matter in face of environmental righteousness.
Besides, the council has actually managed to find the money to do it all - recreation and sewage treatment - in the form of committed finding from the territorial government and a private/public partnership it is developing with EPCOR, an Edmonton based company specializing in water systems. The latter project is still in the conceptual stages, but this council's commitment to this project, which is slated to be completed just outside the deadline which was proposed by the Water Board, may serve to calm the outcry which might normally be expected whenever Dawson's discharges appear to be unregulated.
It's also hard to complain about environmental damage in a summer when the community has passed all of its mandated water toxicity tests.
Mayor Glen Everitt was in transit from meetings in Whitehorse when the letter arrived, and was unavailable for comment.
by Dan Davidson
Staff at Dawson's municipal offices were half expecting some sort of response to the announcement that the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs had refused to sign the water use licence proposed by the Yukon Territory Water Board, but even the city manager and the mayor were taken aback when Department of the Environment officials turned up with a warrant to obtain samples from the town's sewage screening plant.
"A Yukon organization has filed a complaint to the Department of the Environment that we are putting or have put deleterious materials into the Yukon River," Glen Everitt explained on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 16.
"So a search warrant was issued onto the city to have access to our treatment facility and do some grab samples and send them out for testing."
The warrant was issued out of Whitehorse on Tuesday, about 24 hours after the news came out that DIAND Minister Robert Nault had declined to sign the licence as it had been amended by the Water Board due to what his department considered flaws in the proposal.
Ironically Everitt had just returned Monday from Whitehorse meetings which included federal officials with DIAND and had briefed them on Dawson's progress towards the establishment of a public/private joint project with EPCOR of Edmonton to build and run the plant which DIAND and other interveners have been wanting for years.
"We've (just) met with the federal departments in Whitehorse and showed them what we were doing with EPCOR. They were very helpful. It was the most positive dialogue that we've had, that I know of."
Everitt says he has a good idea what organization might have filed the complaint, but DOE officials wouldn't confirm it, so he won't name a group.
"If we pass the test I have every intention of asking our lawyers to see what we can do to force Environment to tell us who filed the complaint."
Dawson has been operating it utility system without a water licence wince January 29 of this year, but Everitt says that not the town's fault. They've been waiting for the minister to move on the Water Board's proposal, which was not the amendment request which Dawson had filed for in the fall of 1998, the request which had been CEAA screened and rejected by DIAND.
Everitt says he has known since February what Nault was going to do, although not exactly why, and really doesn't understand why it took so long to get it done, but that's not Dawson's fault. He is quite puzzled that it took nearly two months for the Water Board to pass on the message. The Board had the letter on June 14, and Everitt was asking around all through June and July to see why Nault had not sent anything along.
Everitt thinks that the Water Board and DIAND expended quite a bit of energy trying to resolve the issues internally before Nault made his final decision.
He was surprised to read the YTWB's acting chair's statement that the Board would be "taking no further action regarding this application."
Everitt figures that someone is going to have to do something about Dawson's water licence because the town can't legally operate for the next two years, while the treatment plant is under way, without one. That kind of limbo would leave the City of Dawson subject to all kinds of frivolous harassment like Wednesday's search warrant.
"We've got a lot of issues that we have to deal with now. Obviously (we don't need) an 'organization in the Yukon' wanting to just keep making things miserable rather than be part of the solution, not part of problem, as with this search warrant."
More information on the EPCOR/Dawson sewage treatment project will be available in September, along with the completed business plan. Discussions about rates and procedures will begin at that time.
Everitt sees a new water licence application going to the YTWB as early as late September, one which will be quite different than anything the City of Dawson has requested previously.
"This time, I'm thinking, we won't be on opposite sides from the federal departments. They will be with us in this process before the Water Board."
The territorial government is also involved in this process to the extent that it is providing a major share of the money needed to build the plant. Everitt says he has been told that the funding agreement will oblige the town to build the plant; the terms will be locked in that way.
The mayor says that other organizations which have previously intervened against the city's proposals are more than welcome to join the discussions but he hopes they will not try to sabotage the process.
by Dan Davidson
We Dawsonites enjoy our summers - while we have them. We like walking the dyke, biking along the streets, hiking the new walking trail out to Guggieville, taking the dog for a stroll in the evening, keeping ahead of the mosquitoes as we stride briskly along.
We also enjoy eating out. There is no intention here of disparaging the restaurants that stay open all year round, but we really do enjoy the sudden variety of eating establishments that blossoms in late May and blooms until September. We kind of like to sample them all.
The problem doesn't become obvious until you check out the number of backyards and side yards that have gas barbecues. See, while the weather will permit it, a lot of us like to be outdoors.
Even I, sedentary writer that I am, enjoy the fresh air. A substantial portion of my summertime output is first drafted on my old Powerbook 140, sitting out on the deck that our builders persuaded us would be a nice addition to the second floor expansion project we undertook 7 years ago. That and the en suite bathroom to the master bedroom are two of the best decisions we made that year.
But, back to my theme, which is about how we prefer to do things outside whenever possible. At this point, the apparent interruption of the paragraph prior to this one actually becomes a clever segue to the real topic of this essay. You see, the answer to this dilemma is very simple: build a deck.
I don't know which restaurant in Dawson first got the bright idea of adding a deck to their floorspace. I think that Belinda's at the Westmark was the one I was first aware of. Later on there was a restaurant where the Schmidt's now have the Gold Claim, and its choice seats were on the verandah, which is about the same thing. Sammi's Place, which used to be called Nancy's, has both a deck and a grassed yard with picnic tables.
Klondike Kate's has had a deck for years, but it was some time before we first ate there, so I'm not sure how far back it goes. The "walls" are a sort of trellis lattice affair and it's "roofed" with translucent sheeting that looks a lot like plastic tin roofing. It's really the template for a lot of the others.
Decks are everywhere in Dawson now. The Triple J Hotel has carved a small one on its front verandah. The Downtown added a deck the size of its dining room on the back end of the hotel.
Dawson Donuts and Riverwest Coffee Shop don't have decks as such, but each has a space outside where picnic tables, chairs and umbrellas are available.
The Rio Grill (which was the '98 Drive-in and several other names along the way) has always had picnic tables out front along the boardwalk, and now sports a fancier deck on one side. So does the Grubstake, our sub and pizza palace.
(I've probably missed someone's building at this point, so whoever it is will just have to accept that its not an intentional lapse. I can't justify having an entire column which just lists restaurants.)
When the decks are roofed or umbrella'd, it's usually due to the sun rather than the rain. Dawson's summer sun, especially from late afternoon until sunset, has quite a glare and gives off a lot of heat, so you need the shelter. The front deck that was on our house when we bought it is nearly uninhabitable at this time of day, which is one more reason we appreciate the upstairs option.
This year, however, has been the exception to a number of rules. The rain and the damp have been accompanied by cold breezes often enough that half of the decks in town now sport some variety of propane heating system to ward off the chill.
These take a variety of forms, but the ones at Kate's, looking for all the world like miniature streetlights, are the most memorable visually.
The heaters are a concession to our visitors, of course. I've seen real Dawsonites sitting on decks when you could almost watch their breath in the early spring, when iced tea was what you got straight out of the teapot if you didn't drink it fast enough. I'm sure that, come September, when the tourist traffic tapers off, real Klondikers will be telling their hosts to turn down the thermostats so they can savor that nip of frost.
After all, we've got reputations to uphold here.
by Tara McCauley
Dawson Donuts & More is owned by Guy Chan and Kim Sharp. The pair met in Dawson. Kim, who is originally from Guelph, Ontario came to Dawson on a summertime whim seven years ago and stayed. Guy is originally from Edmonton. A sous-chef, he trained at George Brown in Toronto. He came to Dawson four years ago on a contract from the Downtown Hotel. He has been in the restaurant business for several years but credits his musical background for giving him his business sense.
When they bought their house on 5th Ave, next to the Post Office, it came with a small business space attached. They wanted to open their own business and wanted something that could sell year-round. They considered a fish 'n chip take-out, but later settled on something quick and easy and what Dawson really needed: a donut shop.
Dawson Donuts opened in February 9, 1999. They sell donuts and coffee but also quick and easy snacks and lunches including pizza pockets, cookies and muffins, soup and sandwiches, pop, juice, chips and bars.
Dawson Donuts provides the food for the Breakfast Program at the school. The Breakfast club started last school year and enabled school kids to get their day off to a good start by having a nutritious breakfast of multi-grain bagels and muffins. Designed by the Canada Food Guide and sponsored by a government grant, the groceries were bought through the grant, the food was then prepared by Dawson Donuts and volunteers picked up the food and supervised the program. It was a great success and Guy hopes that the program will continue this year.
Guy also hosts Wednesday night jam session at the Youth Centre and has helped Dawson youth form their own bands such as Zeyn Zenit and Waun-Tid.
This summer, Guy and Kim also opened the Rio Grill, a seasonal operation, and only establishment in Dawson opened 24 hours. To Guy, the concept wasn't all that unreasonable, "This is the land of the Midnight Sun. There are a surprising amount of people up at 4 a.m." Catering to budget seekers, campers, and the after-bar crowd, the Rio had an excellent season and exceeded Guy's expectations.
Guy and Kim plan to stay in Dawson indefinitely. "Dawson is a dynamic place with a lot of opportunity. If you work real hard and create a service that isn't around, you can do alright.." Guy also believes that supporting the community is essential. "The community is supportive of business that lends itself to the community."
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