|Betty Dee Black and Sam McGee reach Dawson City. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the September 3rd on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our our August 31st hardcopy edition, which was 24 pages long, containing 34 photographs and 22 news stories, the cartoon strips "City Snickers", "Paws", and "Mukluk & Honisukle", and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
There have been some changes in our line-up since we last spoke here. Office manager Jennie Kershaw has moved to Whitehorse to take on another full time job there. Summer student intern Tara McCauley has headed back to university, this year in France, in the third year of her degree program. She will be returning to us next summer as things now stand. We are in the process of hiring a new staff person, so there will probably be some new names on this site in our next issue.
by Dan Davidson
Betty Dee Black has several travelling companions, but the most unique of them is, without a doubt, the 29 year old parrot named Sam McGee, and he was certainly the star of the show the day that she visited the Robert Service School.
Sam and Betty hail from Sarnia, Ontario, which is fairly close to being as far south as you can go in Canada, and they've been travelling in the Yukon for the last month as part of an effort to raise money for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
She and her partner of 20 years, Victor Fast, consider themselves the "surrogate parents of this bird," whom they feel to be a real avian ambassador to the blind and handicapped.
"He calls me mother and he calls Victor, Victor," Betty Dee tells a mixed high school group on August 20. Kids in Dawson have been in school for just two days by then and having a brilliant blue and yellow parrot brighten up their afternoon is a definite novelty.
Victor and Betty have walked and cycled over 7,000 kilometres since they began their trek in Sarnia three months before.
"We are so happy to be in Dawson City," Betty bubbles. "Why's that? Because I love Robert Service. This is a school named after him and this is where he lived for two years of his life."
In addition, years after Service had moved on from here, he wrote a poem called "Longevity", which you can find in his collection Bar-Room Ballads (published in 1940), or in Collected Poems of Robert Service, a copy of which Betty has clutched under her arm like a Bible.
Longevity begins: "I watched one day a parrot grey - 'twas in a barber shop...". While Sam's not grey by a long shot, Betty does own a barber shop back home and has for about 50 years. At 66 she's still going strong and would like to continue as long as her parrot, of which the poem says, "A parrot nears a hundred years (or so the legend goes)..."
"On top of that, 29 years ago I read this poem and said to myself, 'I want a parrot and I want to go to Dawson City in the dawning of the year 2000' so here we are."
Another part of Betty's wish was to recite Service's poetry in Dawson, and she does that with a vengeance. There was a elementary school assembly that Friday, followed by a visit to every high school class that was still in the building. For each there was a bit of verse, often "Longevity", interspersed with Betty's own comments on the meaning of it all.
Betty is one of those who believe strongly in the righteousness of Robert Service's verses. For her he is a poet who never wrote anything that was wrong, and she councils that a study of his works can help a person on the path to right living.
"I don't know if he was a religious man - I don't think he was - but he was one of those who was spiritual," she says.
Reciting at the school was not the end of it. Betty, Victor and Sam were to Service's cabin on Eight Avenue on Saturday and join Charlie Davis in the Robert Service Show for the tourists. Those who wanted their picture taken with the congenial fowl had only to make a contribution to the CNIB.
Sam, Betty tells everyone, has a great fondness for those with handicaps, and has been known to eject at will individual tail feathers for those who touch his little feathered heart.
The pair decided to do their tour after it seemed that everyone had ignored the 80th anniversary of the CNIB.
"We decided," 70 year old Victor tells the students, "to adopt the CNIB as our charity of choice and do a walk from Sarnia to here to commemorate it."
Two things helped them make their choice. "Number one is that we're healthy. We also have a parrot that has a tremendous affinity for kids who are blind or disabled. Also we have found that through eating from 70 to 80 percent raw food that he stays healthy and doesn't get sick. We don't either."
Victor has a short lecture on the benefits of healthy eating, illustrated by a tale of what happened to Sam one time when he ingested roasted sunflower seeds instead of unprocessed. After five days of this, the bird was well on his way to pulling out his feathers and packing it in.
People have reacted strangely to Sam all along the trip, Victor says. At Liard Hot Springs people joked about it suddenly being a tropical paradise, even though parrots do live from the jungle all the way up to the snow line on mountains.
Some of the tourists there wanted to know if Sam was native to the area. Betty and Victor joked that he was really a raven and that they had painted him. Some people seemed to believe this.
Sam wasn't tremendously active in room 6, though he have flown (and dropped a crot) in one of the other classes. He squawked a bit , but didn't actually say much, being content to perch on shoulders, arms, hands and desks to the delight of the students.
The tour has gone well, Betty says. They gave the CNIB a cheque for $20,000 before they left home, and have gathered pledges and cheques for another $20,000 along the way. Their goal is $50,000.
Their next walk will be around the north island of New Zealand, not nearly as much of a physical challenge, but they're not sure yet if Sam will be able to go.
Anyone wanting to contact the travellers can still reach them via their cell phone, the only material support they have from CNIB. The number is (519) 339-0643, and they do give out receipts for donations exceeding $10.
by Ron Ryant
Saturday evening, August 21st at approximately 9:40 p.m. the Klondike Valley Fire Department was alerted by a passing motorist to a fire engulfing Dredge Number 11, which is located about 8 Km. up the Hunker Creek Road.
Upon arrival at the scene, fire was noted on all three decks with a surprisingly low level of smoke, an indication of the excellent burning characteristics of the involved fuels. A continuous water supply was, fortunately available, and immediately established. We requested assistance from forestry in the form of a bucket drop by helicopter. We were informed that the fading light condition made it impossible to comply with that request, however they offered the assistance of a couple of their fire fighters with a pump and some hose which was gratefully accepted.
At that point it looked like it would be impossible to save anything except possibly the buckets and other assorted steel parts.
We began with an exterior attack on the upper deck and on the support structures for the bucket line and the tailings stacker, which were fully involved. After we got that cooled down we positioned attack teams at both ends of the dredge and began systematically attacking the fire, first extinguishing lower level fires so that we could safely move to the upper levels without the risk of falling through flooring burned out from below.
Forestry fire fighters went to work on the exterior of the structure putting out the fire which, if allowed to burn, would have caused the sheet metal coverings on the inside of the exterior walls to come down on fire fighters now working inside the dredge.
With careful coordination, determined fire fighters working from both ends systematically fought their way inwards and upwards and finally, after about five and a half hours of arduous labour, managed to tame the beast.
Due to poor light conditions it was impossible to determine that all smoldering fires were completely out but everything was well soaked, and exhausted but satisfied fire fighters returned to the hall and cleaned up equipment and were back in service by about 4:30 a.m.
The next morning, with good light, it was determined that there were still several small smoldering hot spots and fire fighters spent several more hours ripping down sheet metal and opening up walls to expose hot spots for extinguishment.
The cause of the fire, at the time of writing, is unknown, and is under investigation.
Hats off to all the involved fire fighters. Good job. A big thank you to forestry for your assistance on this fire. Fortunately there were no injuries and a satisfactory conclusion was reached.
Please note that the structural integrity of this dredge (which was not good to begin with) was extremely compromised by this fire and it would be very dangerous to enter the structure now.
The accompanying photo is compliments of Peter Gould (Hunker Creek Pete) and was taken during very poor light conditions.
Submitted by (slightly biased) Ronald Ryant Deputy Chief Klondike Valley Fire Department.
Contributed by Ron Ryant and Michael Gates
Dredge number 11 has an interesting history. Although technically built in 1939 on Hunker Creek, parts of it were built in 1905. Many of the parts used for Dredge Number 11 were originally from a dredge built in 1905 by the Marion Steam Shovel Company of Marion Ohio for the Canadian Klondike Mining Company Limited. It was built near the mouth of Bear Creek and designated, Canadian Number 1. It had seven cubic foot buckets.
In 1913 it moved to 21 Below on Hunker Creek. In 1920 it moved to 17 Below Lower Discovery on Dominion Creek. During 1920 it was rebuilt and renamed North West Number 1. It was also known briefly as New North West Number 1. In 1935 it became Y.C.G.C. Number 1 and it continued to operate on Dominion Creek until it was abandoned in 1938.
In 1939 Y.C.G.C. Number 11 was built by Yuba Manufacturing Company at 59 Below on Hunker Creek. Some of the machinery built into Dredge Number 11 came from Y.C.G.C. Number 1 ( formerly Canadian #1, then N.W. # 1 and then New N.W. # 1 ) It dredged 21,921,063 cubic yards of ground which yielded $9,598,769.00.
On Saturday August 21st 1999 it was ravaged by fire.
The above information was taken from The Gold Hustlers by Lewis Green. This book covers much of the corporate mining era in the Klondike and is available at Maximilian's.
by Dan Davidson
You could have been as busy as you wanted to be in Dawson over the Discovery Days Weekend, and if the weather wasn't always the best, it was pretty good when it really had to be.
Events got under way Friday evening with a brief welcome to the whole weekend held around the Front Street Gazebo. The welcomes included a presentation by the Hän Singers and Drummers. There was a barbecue near by, with music by the Great Landers Show Band from Alaska.
Down at Minto Park the ball tournament got under way and continued on into Sunday.
That night marked the first evening of the event which is becoming a string anchor for the weekend and a real draw for people from outside of town. The Klondike Jamboree kicked off in the hockey arena with the music of McFano, Straight, Clean and Simple and Doug and the Slugs. This went on until well past 2 a.m.
If you took in the pancake breakfast late in the arena late the next morning then you didn't have far to go to make it to the parade, which passed by there about 12:15 and continued passing for about 20 minutes. Lots of colourful flags fluttered in the breeze, kids peddled past on decorated bikes; piper Bill Jackson led the YOOPs and Justin the Red Serge Horse led the Mounties.
There was quite a variety of floats, including a tour bus with lots of very dim "tourists" hanging out of it and off of it, while others drifted aimlessly down the street in the front of the bus, oblivious to their peril with all peripheral vision encased in a camera lens. Very true to life.
Where the parade ended in Minto Park, the kids games began, including pony rides, face painting, and a skateboard competition.
The Jamboree band the Neurotics, put on a Kids Concert in the arena as a kind of warm up for the evening's action. The second night of the concert was even more packed as Cabin Fever and the Neurotics opened for Trooper. The joint was jumping until nearly 3 a.m. , even though the band was done before 2.
For Sunday there were more pancakes, a special update tour of the S.S. Keno (we hope Doug Phillips was there), the Klondike Krunch Demo Derby in the old North End gravel pit, historical doings out at Discovery Claim, and the arrival of NMI Mobility Yukon River Bathtub Race entrants around 3 p.m.
Of lesser public note (but more lasting significance) was the sod turning marking the beginning of the Guns and Ammo restoration project . (There will be more on that later this week.)
In Dawson, the Discovery Day weekend marks the end of summer vacation for students, teachers and families. School starts the day after the holiday and ever bit of nice weather that can be squeezed out of the tag end of August is a true bonus, especially if it comes after school and on the weekends.
by Dan Davidson
Bert Savage is not bothered by the continuing poor performance of gold on the international market. He's been in the game for 40 years, has seen it go up and down, stall and recover. Eventually it will improve, and even if it doesn't, it's still many times the price it was when he started in mining in the early 1970s.
"I'm too old (at 66) to wait for it to go back up in price," Savage said, as we breakfasted at the Downtown Hotel.
Willard Power believes in Bert Savage. Next to his enthusiasm the other partners in the Great Northern Group seem like sober, grey suited businessmen. Power is caught up in the rush of seeking and finding the gold and his southern American accent gets broader the more excited he becomes.
Don Long is an entrepreneur from Doaktown, New Brunswick. He has interests in the decorative rock business and is currently exploring the possibilities of electronic commerce on the InterNet. But he's caught the gold bug from Power and Savage.
The three of them have formed the Great Northern Group to explore and exploit the gold resources contained in 88 claims along a 25 mile stretch of Matson Creek. Savage has been there since 1977, operating as the Matson Creek Gold Company, and has taken something like 36,000 ounces of the yellow metal out of the area in that time.
In mid-July the trio were in Dawson to wrap up some financial details and celebrate the pouring of a bar of gold, the first for the new business.
The transformation of the Matson Creek Gold Company into the Great Northern Group is primarily a means for Savage to gain more operating capital. Long will be the president of the new venture while Savage will be vice-president and run it on the ground. The capital will enable the placer operation to expand into hard rock mining.
"That's where we're coming in with him," said Long. "He's going to start drilling...next year."
Long also runs a fledgling e-commerce mall on the InterNet and the partners see this as a way of promoting sales.
Low gold prices will not affect Great Northern, Long said, because the corporation has no debt load. "We'll just work along with the market."
Getting ready to do this has meant a bit of paperwork, but the partners haven't found it difficult.
"I really think the world of the people over there in the Mining Recorder's office and the Inspector's office," said Power. "They help you in every way they can."
Power would not be surprised if up to $800 million in gold eventually came out of the ground controlled by Great Northern. He produced a letter from Golden West Refining to show the quality of the product.
"The metal received from this creek," wrote Cory Keller, "has averaged a purity of 89.5% fine gold and 9.7% fine silver" over the last four years."
Great Northern's claims are part of the Tintina Trench, a mineral rich area which spreads through the Yukon and Alaska and has been the object of much activity in the last few years. Savage feels that the placement of the Klondike Schist, and the recent gold discoveries near Pogo by Tech (Tek) Corporation, are both good news for his operation, which is located about 65 air miles from Dawson.
Golden West took advantage of its association with Great Northern to showcase its new electric furnace and pour a 100 pound bar of gold.
"That would be a 1200 ounce bar of gold and silver," Savage explained. "They haven't had a furnace capable of melting that much or a mould to pour it into."
Matson Creek was named for shy Norwegian miner, Johnny Matson, who eventually married Klondike Kate Rockwell. Matson's grave is on one of Bert Savage's claims, and he says he feels inspired by that. No matter how successful the hardrock drilling may be, Matson's grave is one site that will never be mined.
by Dan Davidson
Estimates are not yet final, but the committee in charge of the Klondike Jamboree is pretty certain that something like 1400 people rocked and bopped in the Bonanza Centre Arena as the Klondike Jamboree deleted its country origins and added some rock and roll to the weekend mix.
Committee vice-president Lambert Curzon says the organizers felt that this was a necessary move if the money losing Klondike Country Jamboree was ever to get its finances out of the red and set up a situation where it could continue. After three years of insolvency, the change was dictated by economics.
Even so, Curzon says it wasn't easy to pull this one off. Joe Magee, founder and current president ("until August 30," he says) agrees. Grant money just wasn't there in large amounts and the financial track record of the event was such that the banks weren't interested in floating a loan. The front money to bring in the two biggest acts of the weekend, Doug and the Slugs and Trooper, was charged to the board members' credit cards, but they're feeling fairly confident about getting it back.
The Klondike Jamboree, as it is now to be known, ran on Friday and Saturday nights of the Discovery Days weekend. It's an evening and indoor event, as contrasted with the weekend long Dawson City Music Festival, which is a month earlier and relies on Minto Park, a large tent and lots of other venues around the town. The Jamboree is based in the arena, which may pose a problem for next year if the renovations haven't been completed there on time.
Curzon and Magee are immensely pleased with the way the weekend went.
"I think it's looking really good," Curzon said just after the weekend and Magee echoed those sentiments a week later. The final financial reckoning has taken a couple of weeks to work out, but ticket sales were good, attendance was high, and the bar sales surpassed expectations on both nights. (Curzon thought more people should probably have taken advantage of the designated driver service being offered by the Robert Service School's Grad 2000 committee.) The Jamboree committee is optimistic.
The committee is made up of Joe Magee, president; Lambert Curzon, vice president; Lenore Calnan, treasurer; Sylvie Gammie, secretary; and board members Barry Graham, Gloria Baldwin-Shultz, Virginia Mahoney-LaJambe and Susan Hermann.
As for the social success of the weekend, it would have to rated as a total success. With over 600 people out the first night from 7 to 2, and nearly 800 the second night, you'd certainly have to call the event popular.
Friday featured McFano, Straight, Clean and Simple, and the closing act of Doug and the Slugs. It was the more country of the two nights, if either could be said to have that flavour, but it still rocked. The dance floor was busy. While all the bands were given full marks, people were happy to see Doug and the Slugs here again, living up to their musical and temperamental reputation. There aren't many of the original Slugs in the band, but they keep the flavour intact.
Local band Cabin Fever put in a strong opening performance on Saturday night, according to Curzon, and the Neurotics were also much appreciated. A number of people told Curzon that these bands would be worth having back again.
Saturday Night was Trooper's night, though. The two original members of the band joked about having originated some of their hits in the days when recordings were distributed on 8-track tapes, but they and their younger sidemen kept the sound and the spirit of the band alive, and even managed to keep the balding, middle-aged lead singer (who can still hit those high notes) from sounding silly when they chanted the anthemic chorus of their biggest hit, "Raise a Little Hell!"
The audience gave the band all the affection any revival act could possibly hope for, and there will no doubt be many who pick up that 2 disc CD compilation of Troopers best when it appears in the stores later this year. As for the dancing, there was a lot of it, though how people managed to move in all that press of bodies remains a mystery to this observer.
Joe Magee said that special thanks for this year were due to the Klondike Visitors Association and the City of Dawson, who were both very supportive. He also thanked his family, which has seen him through this five year learning experience, and even Peter Menzies, without whom the first Jamboree and several after that would never have taken place.
Recent elections held by the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation produced the following results.
Darren Taylor - 175 votes - elected
Debbie Nagano - 62
Jenny Christiansen - 155 - elected
Edith Fraser - 133 - elected
Clara Van Bibber - 110 - elected
Art Christiansen - 107 - elected
Jason Van Fleet - 100
Robert Rear - 90
Lisa Hutton - 78
Simon Nagano - 76
Terrance Scheffen - 68
by Dan Davidson
Twenty-eight years ago Dawson artist Albert Fuhre saved the Guns and Ammo Building from being demolished. He had something like 72 hours to raise the $400 it took to buy the former Strait's Auction House from its then owner, Martin Dennis Victor III, an absentee landowner from Fairbanks.
He actually raised about $600 and turned the surplus, along with the building, over to the Klondike Visitors Association for safekeeping. On August 15, he thanked the KVA for hanging onto it as long as they did.
Fuhre also added a word of thanks to Victor for having kept the building intact in the first place as he passed the preservation torch to Don Cox, the owner of the Northern Metallic store at a small ceremony that day.
In between, the old building has had a bit of work done on it. Klondike National Historic Sites did some site recording and bracing. The place survived the flood of 1979, which actually seems to have straightened up the front end collapse which is visible in the picture of the interpretative plaque which the Klondike Visitors Association put up a year or two ago.
Now the building leans profoundly to the left (or east) and its inclination has increased sharply since a major portion of the roof collapsed a few years ago, opening the shell to all the elements and hastening the dry rot within its timbers.
Last spring, at the annual general meeting of the KVA, the association decided it could no longer risk the fire and accident liability inherent in owning a building which had stood condemned for nearly 3 decades, and voted to tear it down.
Albert Fuhre had known this was coming, and had tried the year before to start a new fund to save the building, but hadn't had any success this time. While it is one of the most photographed structures in Dawson, the appearance of the Guns and Ammo Building seems to inspire awe and a sense of mystery rather than any faith in its ability to endure.
When Don Cox read that the building was to be torn down before the snow fell this fall, it touched a urge deep within him, an urge to put something back into a community he has had a soft spot for ever since he first arrived here in 1953.
In short order he was dickering with the KVA about the terms and conditions under which he might acquire the place, put it to rights and use part of it as a commercial property.
The August 15 "sod-turning" ceremony outside the building was a public sign these negotiations have been concluded successfully. Cox further demonstrated his commitment to the project by cutting into a meeting of Northern Metallic managers in Whitehorse, loading everyone on a plane and flying to Dawson for the afternoon's ceremony.
He was joined on the site by Albert Fuhre, Michel Dupont of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Mayor Aedes Scheer, KVA executive director Denny Kobayashi and Jon Magnusson of the Klondyke Centennials Society.
Scheer provided the shovel around which the group posed, only to discover that Fuhre and Cox wouldn't let her have it back afterwards. She said they told her it was now a part of the history of the building and that she could take her pick of a replacement at Northern Metallic the next business day.
While he originally thought that the building would probably have to be demolished and recreated, Cox now believes that the much of it can be restored and estimates that perhaps 40% of the finished structure will be from the original building. He characterizes it as having a New Orleans kind of flavour which is a bit different from the rest of the town. Certainly its large ground floor front windows, prominent bay windows on the second floor and little balconies on the corners mark it as a building which once possessed a grand style.
"I'm happy to tell you that it's going to go up with the spirits and ghosts and what have you in the building all intact. It's a worthy cause and a great old building.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Cox bubbled. "It's something that I'm going to enjoy doing and I hope people in Dawson are with me on this project. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time."
The first stage, this fall, will be to straighten the building and get it up out of the mud, then to protect it against the winter snow and spring rains so as to minimize further exposure. In the spring, it will be settled on a new foundation. That will all happen quite quickly, but the rest will take some time.
The time frame is loose, but Cox expects it will all be completed within five years.While he hesitates to put a precise price tag on the project, he estimates it will take some $250,000 to do the job.
"It's a bit of a millennium project for me," Cox said. "As you can tell I'm not much younger than the building, so I need something to do in my retirement."
by Dan Davidson
As much as I appreciate the help and encouragement that the publisher of the Yukon News has given to our little paper here over the last decade, I do sometimes wish that the editor would be a little more cautious before applying his fingertips to the keys of his computer.
For a case in point, let's wade through the diatribe that splattered its way into the August 20, 1999 ("Dawson one of the nation's worst polluters") and August 23, 1999 ("Dawson's shame is sewage") issues. Both featured prominent anti-Dawson headlines on the front pages as well, but we'll leave those to literary license. For the rest, don your metaphorical hip waders; it's deep in here.
Appropriately enough, both pieces, one an article and the other an editorial, dealt with sewage. They certainly were full of it.
The reporter failed to note that the Sierra Legal Defence fund apparently doesn't think that spending $100,000 a year on environmental studies which, according to the territory's chief medical health officer, have never been properly done in the past, is a worthwhile activity.
But then the Sierra Club thinks that a town of 2100 can be ranked with cities of several hundred thousand and doesn't even blink at the statistical trick involved in stretching that "logic".
The editorial writer forgot that it was the Yukon Territory Water Board which ordered Dawson to carry out the studies (which the town had proposed to do) and decided by itself to delay its ruling on the state of Dawson's water license until the science was properly done.
The editor also dragged out DIAND's favorite shibboleth of fecal coliform counts in the river, notwithstanding Dr. Timmerman's absolute and derisive dismissal of this element at last December's Water Board Hearings.
Yes, there are high counts, he said, just as there are everywhere along the banks of any community in the Yukon. It's run-off from accumulated animal excrement, both domestic and tame.
It is a problem, but it's not one that treating the sewage would do anything about.
As for the visibility of Dawson's "dirty little secret" to any visitors that might happen by, it'll never happen. It's under water so muddy that divers couldn't locate the end of the pipe to work on it a few years back when it was blocked by a piece of telephone pole. That same water is so full of naturally occurring silt (suspended sediments) that 15 seconds worth of its flow is equal to the total volume of sewage that Dawson emits each and every day.
To put it another way, Whitehorse probably leaked a year's worth of Dawson's volumes into the river when its environmentally correct sewage lagoon overflowed a few years ago.
There's more to be said, but let's leave it for now. I'm sure the subject will rise again, just like my gorge when I read these articles. I've donated my copies of the testimony and exhibits from the hearings (weighs about 15 kilograms) to our local library. Perhaps the gentlemen involved should read them before they tackle this subject again.
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