Dawson City, Yukon Friday, April 4, 1997

MAIL BY DOGTEAM...The Percy DeWolfe Race began as a commemorative mail run. Here Postmaster Lambert Curzon and a frozen redcoat hand off the mail to the number 2 musher in the race. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

DeWolfe Race Fields Record Number of Teams
DeWolfe Race Ends with Eight in the Money
The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race Results
Yukon Legislature Sings Nuggets' Praises
Editorial: Welcome to Hug a Nugget Night
Dawson Travels to Cheer its Own
On the Road With the Dawson Nuggets
Whatever Happened to Archie Martin?
The Circle of Life: Meaning in the Art of Michael Mason
Trek Over the Top
Dawson's Spring Carnival Conquers Flurries and Wind
Band Teacher Goes Solo
Underground Designer Dies
She Shoots She Scores

DeWolfe Race Fields Record Number of Teams

by Dan Davidson

A record 22 teams waited at the starting line at 10 AM on Thursday morning as Dawson Fire Chief Pat Cayen counted down the minutes to the beginning of the 21st annual Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Run. It was 3 more than last year's 19.

Nearly 300 spectators lined the streets beside the Palace Grand Theatre and the Old Post Office as the dogs strained at their harness and their handlers strained to keep them untangled.

The formalities of the race are fairly simple. Postmaster Lambert Curzon presents the commemorative mail bag to the sled carrying the number 2 bib (number one is permanently retired in honour of the Iron Man mail carrier after whom the race is named) and then the teams begin to depart at two minute intervals.

First up this year was Todd Mackinaw from Fairbanks, Alaska, who pulled off up King Street to Front without a hitch. He was luckier than some of the other mushers. Anchor brakes got caught in the chain starting line more than once during the next 42 minutes.

The turn toward the ferry landing was a sharp right at the bottom of King Street. In icy street conditions so slick that the sleds needed an extra rider just to make the corner, some of them didn't quite manage it. One flipped over, but was soon on its way again. Another team carried on past the barrier and had to be brought back to the street.

The day was a bit of a paradox. It was only about -10 degrees C under grey skies with diffused sunlight, but the wind that whipped up the streets kept the spectators, especially the younger kids from the school, shivering.

Race Marshal John Borg said the trail had been good when he skidooed over here from Eagle the day before, but he thought the wind on the open Yukon River would probably be brutal.

Past winners of this race have stated that the perfect weather would be about -20 degrees C and no wind. They didn't get either of those conditions on race day, and by noon a gentle snow was falling in Dawson, though Borg said there hadn't been enough to obscure the trail when they left here.

While the 210 round trip race has taken up to 72 hours to run in really bad weather, it generally takes about a day of actual racing.

top.gif

DeWolfe Race Ends with Eight in the Money

by Dan Davidson

Brian MacDougall notched another Percy DeWolfe win on his dogsled Friday afternoon, arriving back from Eagle, Alaska at 1:51 pm local time, just 21 hours and 7 minutes of running time after leaving Dawson on Thursday morning.

MacDougall was also the first musher to get to Eagle on Thursday evening, even though he was the 19th to leave Dawson, so he won the race going and coming.

For his efforts, MacDougall picked up a $4000 first prize, the lion's share of the just over $10,350 in the total pot.

The Percy is now able to pay out prizes down as far as 8th place, and the award ceremony was the after dinner highlight at the Downtown Hotel on Saturday night.

With a time of 22:15, second place went to Ed Hopkins, third to Gord Wood (24:29), fourth to Thomas Tetz (24:58). Fifth went to Rusty Hagan, sixth to Terry MacMullan, seventh to Harold Frost and eighth to Walter Palkovitch.

MacDougall was characteristically low key in his appraisal of the race.

"It wasn't too bad," he said. "A little pack ice on the river, but it could have been way worse. The trail was probably a little easier two years ago. We had a head wind all the way down, but none coming back. It was just a good trip. Lots of teams out there, lots of company and lots of hospitality."

MacDougall himself ran a nine dog team, and except for one who picked up a bit of a sore "wrist" on the way back, had no problems. For those who had trouble this year there was a dog drop at Fortymile where the tired or injured animals could wait the night until their owners could pick them up the next day. Several mushers made use of this facility and it was highly praised at the banquet.

MacDougall said that Dawson musher Cor Guimond had a very competitive team and a good shot at the race this year. Unfortunately Guimond's sled was shattered to kindling on the rough ice heading towards Fortymile.

Guimond joked about it when MC Al Pope asked him to say a few words at the beginning of the awards, saying that it was MacDougall who was responsible for his debacle this year.

"A couple of years ago," he told the banquet crowd, "Brian MacDougall beat me by about two minutes, and he told me that if I had a lighter sled, I would have beat him." The room burst into laughter. "So I built one. And he still beat me. But I kicked his a** in the Quest and so I want to see him next year."

Two other mushers, James Stanford and Gwen Holdman, also lost their sleds to the rough trail and had to scratch.

The Klondike Visitors Association's Denny Kobayashi brought greetings to the humid banquet room on behalf of his board and the community.

"KVA started this race many years ago. I can say that the KVA board and the community are very proud of where Brent and his volunteers have taken this race. It's just a fabulous race. Brent keeps telling me that it has more potential that the Iditarod and the Quest, that one day they will fall by the wayside and the Percy DeWolfe will remain... They're a tremendous group and we're proud to support them."

Looking at the race overall, race marshal John Borg was enthusiastic. John's been marshal 19 of the 21 years of the race, so he knows it well. He talked a bit about it in between watching the fourth and fifth place mushers return on Friday afternoon.

"It's a tremendous turn-out this year," Borg said, "and so many new people. That's what's encouraging - the interest. I think the Percy is still alive and well. The quality of the teams and the equipment is getting better all the time too. You see it in the handling of the teams in the starting chutes."

Brent MacDonald, president of the DeWolfe committee was just as enthusiastic. Asked how the race was this year, he fairly beamed.

"Oh, excellent. The trail's been really good. It was well marked, good and hard. Thursday was snowy but today was just beautiful. It's been harder on the sleds than anything this year. We didn't have any records set, but pretty close. There's been an excellent turnout."

Members of the Dawson branch of the Canadian Rangers contributed to the race this year by preparing the trail in advance. Though, as Whitehorse musher Martin Bigg (14th place) noted at the banquet, John Borg's assurances that the trail had "character" were obviously made by a man on a snowmobile on higher ground, not one portaging through overflow.

Still, they seem to have a lot of fun out there, and most of them aren't really in it for the money. Once the tension of the first place finishes is over, some of the later mushers make a vacation of it and camp out. Friday afternoon there were several camped out at Fortymile, just taking it easy.

"There's no point in racing for nothing," said Brent MacDonald at the time, "so they're just out there having a good time now."

A couple of Dawson mushers were new to racing this year. Sandy Sippola came in 15th and credited her finish to the assistance she got from 16th place Sonny Jonas.

The Percy recognizes even its last place arrivals. Peter Ledwidge took the "Red Lantern" award this year for his time of 43:15.

"I'll try not to make a collection of these, " he joked, waving the lantern on the way back to his table.

Other awards included rookie of the year to Thomas Tetz; an award from the Dawson Humane Society to Harold Frost; and the sportsperson of the year award to Gwen Holdman.

top.gif

The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race

1997 Official Race Results

Dawson City - 22 teams competed for a total purse of $10,350.00 in this year's race up from 19 last year. Three teams scratched all due to broken sleds, Cor Guimond from Dawson City, James Stanford from Haines, Ak., and Gwen Holdman from Fox, Ak.

The race trail was hard packed with some light drifting. The weather was - 18C and light flurries with moderate westerly winds on Thursday and overcast with sunny periods on Friday. We thank our sponsor: The Downtown Hotel - Lead Sponsor, The Gas Shack, City of Dawson, North 60 Petro, and our Race Vet. Jim Kenyon of Yukon Veterinary Services. As well we thank all our volunteers from Eagle, Ak. and Dawson City.

1 Brian MacDougall Whitehorse YT $4000.00 21:07 (hr:min) His 5th win
2 Ed Hopkins Tagish YT $2500.00 22:15
3 Gord Wood Whitehorse YT $1500.00 24:29
4 Thomas Tetz Tagish YT $800.00 24:58 Rookie Award
5 Rusty Hagan North Pole AK $500.00 25:31
6 Terry McMullin Eagle AK $400.00 26:31
7 Harold Frost Sr. Old Crow YT $350.00 28:00 Dog Care Award
8 Walter Palkovitch Two Rivers AK $300.00 28:10
9 Deborah Bicknell Auke Bay AK 29:17
10 Bill Snodgrass Dubois WY 34:58
11 Dan Ewen Lexington KT 34:59
12 Todd Mackinaw Fairbanks AK 35:10 Mail Carrier
13 JoAnne Van Randen Whitehorse YT 35:51
14 Martin Bigg Whitehorse YT 36:01
15 Sandy Sippola Dawson City YT 37:00
16 Sonny Jonas Dawson City YT 37:10
17 Andrew Norkin Seward AK 41:36
18 Peter Ledwidge Dawson City YT 43:15
19 Gwen Holdman Fox AK Scratch-Broken Sled Sportsmanship Award
20 James Stanford Haines AK Scratch-Broken Sled
21 Cor Guimond Dawson City YT Scratch-Broken Sled
22 Dave Wilson Dawson City YT Disqualified

Percy DeWolfe Winners of the Past

1981 Bruce Johnson
1982 Bruce Johnson
1983 Bruce Johnson
1984 Bruce Johnson
1985 Grant Dowdell
1986 Robin Jacobson
1987 Benoit Lefebvre
1988 Larry Smith
1989 Bruce Johnson
1990 Bruce Johnson
1991 Brian MacDougall
1992 William Kleedehn
1993 Brian MacDougall
1994 Brian MacDougall
1995 Brian MacDougall
1996 William Kleedehn
1997 Brian MacDougall

Original list compiled by Al Pope for the Yukon News.

top.gif

Yukon Legislature Sings Nuggets' Praises

The following speeches are extracted from the record of debates in the Yukon legislature.

Mr. Jenkins: It gives me great pleasure to rise today to pay tribute to the Dawson City Nuggets hockey team. Just as the birth of the Yukon commenced with the discovery of gold in the Klondike, many of the world-class events and attractions in Canada have originated in this same region.

In 1905 one of the most famous gold miners sponsored the hockey team to challenge for the Stanley Cup. Their trek to Ottawa to play these hockey games was a feat in itself. hese past few weeks we have witnessed the re-creation of this trek to Ottawa and a hockey game in which the outcome was not far dissimilar from the score achieved in 1905.

As in 1905, the Dawson City Nuggets travelled by dog team, train and by foot to Ottawa. A total of nine days and eight nights were spent on snow machines, sledding, just to get from Dawson City to Whitehorse.

As for members of the original Nugget hockey team, this trek has been a great and exciting adventure for everyone involved -- an event that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Special thanks must be given to the many sponsors who were responsible for making this event a reality.

The game was held on Saturday, (March 22) and it was a success. It drew a crowd of over 6,000 people and helped raise funds for the Special Olympics, the Heart Institute and minor hockey.

Again, congratulations to the Dawson City Nuggets. Once again, Yukon has succeeded in making a name for itself.

Mrs. Edelman: In 1905, the Dawson City Nuggets hockey team lost 25 to two to the Ottawa Senators alumni. This weekend, the Dawson City Nuggets, 100 years later, only gave up 18 goals. Mr. Speaker, give it another century and we will shut them out.

There were 6,100 fans cheering on the Nuggets this weekend; 360 of those fans received their tickets from the City of Dawson; 180 tickets went to the Children's Hospital of eastern Ontario and another 180 tickets were donated to the Royal Ottawa Health Group. These tickets went primarily to sick children, but they also went to the hard-working staff and the out-of-town families of those sick children.

Hats off to the people of Dawson and the City of Dawson staff, who worked so hard to gather those tickets. Hats off to the people of Dawson, who sent a hockey team to Ottawa, which played the game of hockey the way all sports should be played; they had fun. Congratulation Dawson. Congratulation Dawson City Nuggets. You did good.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, it does give me great privilege and honour today to rise to pay tribute to a group of Yukoners we can all be proud of: the Dawson City Nuggets.

The Dawson City Nuggets and the many individuals and organizations that worked together to organize and support this event displayed perseverance typical of all Yukoners. In 1905, the Dawson City Nuggets made a long and difficult journey to Ottawa to play against the Senators. On March 1 of this year, the Nuggets once again left Dawson to re-create this historic event. Yesterday evening, the Nuggets and Senators played before television cameras and a crowd of 6,000 people, as has been stated before. My only regret was that we in the Yukon were not witness, visually, to this much-heralded event.

Like Yukoners everywhere, I do believe that I trusted them to do their best and the Nuggets did their very best. In Tlingit, we say "to do your very best to the best of your capabilities". I do believe that that is what they have lived up to and have done. I think their actions and efforts are typical of keeping Yukon history alive and promoting our beautiful land to visitors.

On behalf of my colleagues and of all Yukoners, I would certainly like to congratulate the Nuggets and everyone who helped to make this event a success.

I was there when they started off, along with colleagues who were there. We started off with a dinner of pork and beans -- a very typical Dawson City dinner -- to start them off. I would like to think now that, when they are coming home, maybe all the energy that they have left now is really just for some beef and some barley. They are coming home on the 26th. I would encourage all Yukoners and all of us here that can get away to go up and greet them home and cheer them as only Yukoners can do.

Thank you very much.

top.gif

Editorial: Welcome to Hug a Nugget Night

by Dan Davidson


Michael Gate's photo of Nugget Bob Sutherland getting mugged at the Dawson Curling Rink party sums up nicely the feeling here about the trip.

So they didn't win the game? This matters? You're kidding, right? Our Nuggets may have failed to score a goal in sixty minutes of play against seasoned veterans, but so what? That was a minor skirmish in the whole affair known as the Stanley Cup Challenge. They may have lost that one particular battle, but when it comes to the grand campaign, they were definitely the winners.

Theirs is a triumph of the imagination. After all, who would have believed, just five years ago, that an event like this could even have taken place? Who would have believed that it could have captured the imagination of the sporting public? Who would have seen the epic journey becoming a daily feature in daily papers across the nation, dominating the front pages of a major Ottawa paper for a week and galvanizing fans of hockey as well as Klondike aficionados from here to Boston and back.

How much of that thinking went into the celebrations here last Saturday evening I couldn't say. But it was pretty clear that, with most of the Nuggets back in town and ready to settle once more into their mundane existences, local folks and fans wanted a chance to give one last cheer and talk about it all.

Granted, it seemed like a good deal of the evening was spent clustered six deep around a medium sized television screen where home videos of the highlights were on display for all who could manage to squeeze in far enough to see.

The covered pool table in the curling club was laden with enough cakes and goodies to put back on all the pounds our stalwarts might have lost on the trip from here to Whitehorse. But there was a packed house to help them put all the food away.

All the Nuggets are still aglow with the experience. They'd had the ultimate road trip, combining elements of the Yukon outdoors experience, a sea cruise and one of the last long train trips you can still take in this nation.

They visited the Hall of Fame and exulted in seeing their heroes. They were recognized and feted everywhere they went. In reserved Ottawa people honked at them from the street and called out to welcome them. They were applauded by all parties - the Bloc excepted - in the House of Commons. They got to play their favorite game before a crowd three times the size of their entire town's population.

The whole experience is a fantasy come true, and these guys can't be considered anything but winners for having carried it off with so much style.

So what's next? According to the history books, baseball was the really popular sport in summer in Dawson at the turn of the century. Does that give anyone any ideas?

top.gif

Dawson Travels to Cheer its Own

by Dan Davidson


Chris Caldwell's delighful spoof of all things hockey and Klondike adorned the front cover of the official evening program for the Stanley Cup Challenge Game.

As the day of the great Dawson City Nuggets Stanley Cup Challenge came closer, some Dawsonites got ready to go join the fun. Spurred on by local enthusiasm and an enticing package tour offering from Atlas Travel, a number of locals be boarded planes for the East at the day approached.

On March 19 Jennifer Docken, a librarian at the Dawson Community Library, was looking forward to joining husband Bud, one of the players, in Toronto. Working her last day in the stacks before heading off early on Thursday morning for the 6 to 8 hour drive to Whitehorse over late winter roads before catching Thursday's plane, she was happy to be heading off.

Upstairs in the Robert Service School, social studies teacher Bob Sutherland was getting his lessons ready for a supply teacher and planning to hit the road. Sutherland is a member of the team, one of several who was not able to make the entire trip, though he rode a bicycle out on the creeks the day they headed out.

He took several days off without pay to join in this event, but he's been full of it for months now, and has been posting faxed copies of the various newspaper accounts of the trip in the hallways ever since the Nuggets starting hitting the Outside news.

Myrna Butterworth is a long time hockey fan who used to watch a lot of it with her late husband, Les. She' was excited to be heading off to meet the team.

"I heard the Nuggets were going so I decided to go too. When Pat Hogan first presented the the idea five years ago I was doing the Joe Boyle presentation at the Bear Creek historical site, so I knew about the original trip."

Butterworth has never been east of Winnipeg herself, so the trip was a voyage of discovery as well as a sports trip.

Pia Blattler was bubbling with enthusiasm the night before she leaves.

"I don't know what we're going to see but we're going to support them. I don't think it'll happen again in our lifetime."

She too knew of the original trip from stories she had heard, but had never expected in would ever happen again.

Robert Service School's secretary, Bonnie Barber, had been sick with the flu for a week, but she was hoping the change would be as good as a rest. Her husband, Chuck, is another of the Nuggets who had to leave later and couldn't make the whole trip.

Their journey took them through Vancouver, and on to Toronto, where they joined the team on the train to Ottawa for the march 20 arrival in the capital city.

Chuck's been playing hockey for so long he refuses to count the years anymore, and Bonnie said he was very excited about the challenge.

On Monday night the trip was also the subject of discussion at municipal council, Mayor Glen Everitt went to represent the town, and was hoping to challenge the mayor of Ottawa to a little Klondike Rules one-on-one between periods, for money. The proceeds would be donated to charity.

"Klondike Rules"? you ask. Well you might. Everitt doesn't skate, so he proposed snowshoes and parkas for gear with a ball for a puck. He said he had one secret Klondike Rule he wasn't not going to tell anyone about until it was too late to stop him.

It won't be a mayor v.s mayor contest though. The reigning politician in Ottawa is now a nice, but older (so he told council) lady, who has declined the challenge. The Senators Alumni team may field a challenger, but on Monday night, Everitt's wasn't sure what would happen.

What is certain is that this trip is one locals will be talking about for a long time to come.

top.gif

On the Road With the Dawson Nuggets

by Don Reddick
Official Scribe to the 1997 Nuggets Stanley Cup Challenge

(March 15) We broke camp on the Stewart River in minus forty degree weather. "But it's a dry cold," Bruce Duffee mutters, one of our oft-repeated jokes.

Breaking camp is a laborious process amid a cacophony of rising dog excitement at surging onto the trail. The dog team departures come early and are fraught with peril, the trail is cleared between the snow machines and you'd best beware or you'll soon find your legs swept from under you. Nothing seems to deter these animals from the frantic rush into the new day.

With their yelps and howls diminishing down the trail, we continue repacking; breakfasts hastily consumed before they freeze on your plate, tents coming down, dishes cleaned with snow, gasoline and oil levels replenished, and endless discussions on the trail ahead.

We pull onto the path in our groups of five or six, Ranger Bruce Taylor breaking the trail. These first days are the wildest, traversing mountains and easing down onto long slopes into vast valleys, passing boarded-up mining camps and fallen, ancient roadhouses.

The stunning winter beauty of the Yukon is a constant companion, though the effort required to negotiate the twists and turns, the switchbacks and angles of this troubling terrain prevents any thorough enjoyment. But as the expedition spreads out and accidents occur, miles come to you alone, affording time to pull over and shut down the noisy machine, providing time to embrace the vast solitude we borrow during these days.

We reach Pelly Crossing, our first hint of civilization in four days, and the guys are like sailors in port, crowding the general store wolfing down hot dogs and cups of steaming coffee.

A road hockey match is played against the local First Nation teenagers, a hundred silent, motionless spectators lining the perimeter and porch of the community hall. I marvel at these Selkirk foes of ours, how even after scoring they mask any show of emotion, though I glimpse it in their eyes, the excitement of hosting and besting, led by Kenny Harper's four goals, the famous Dawson City Nuggets, 11 - 6.

We depart Pelly Crossing in yet another spell of dry cold, my thermometer registering -38 degrees F. Despite problems with one particular hill just outside of town this day eases into a nice run over several lakes, a welcomed reprieve from the jolting of previous days, most of it through large, burnt areas where miles of bare, blackened trunks stand silent sentinel to former forests.

We hit "the dreaded overflow," and parties search up and down the creek until an alternate route is discovered, John Flynn cutting tree limbs and Pat Hogan tying ribbons on trees to mark the new route for those behind. When the dog teams descend onto the scene they must be guided by three or four guys grabbing individual sets of dogs and pulling, sliding them along, the dogs utterly without traction on the ice.

This evening we camp between the bluffs and the ice-heaved Yukon River, and it is here the fatigue crushes me most. Many of us, even some of those with experience in the bush, had harbored an ill-conceived notion of what camp life would entail, camp set up by five or six o'clock with hours of relaxation by the campfires telling stories, reading, and writing. Reality manifests itself this evening as I struggle through some knee-deep snow dragging two spruce trees Freddy Farr has dispatched me to retrieve, the trees snagging on bushes, all enveloped in darkness, and I have to pass Cowboy Smith's dogs without dragging the limbs over them -- and it hits me all at once, an exhaustion pleading to merely fall to the snow right there, forty yards from camp, to just rest for a while.

I marvel at my misconceptions: Before the trip my brother-in-law inquired as to my preparation, what training and exercises I was doing and I had laughed -- "We're riding snow machines, why would you need to exercise?" And here at Yukon Crossing, in a light snow beginning to drift down on our bevy of sore-backed toil, I smile at my foolishness, and drag my trees into camp.

The hardships are tempered by a growing familiarity with the others. These are characters carved from the hardest wood fireside, in minus forty degree weather. Pat Hogan impresses, an eloquent, intelligent soul organized and imaginative, his features the raw strength of glaciated bedrock; Freddy Farr, silent, hard-working and competent; Kevin Anderson, intense, constantly in motion, the heart and soul of the Dawson City Nuggets; Bruce Duffee, modest, introspective, harboring a quiet dignity; Steve Craig, struggling through the hardships of his first extended dogsled trek, but most of all Larry 'Cowboy' Smith, one of the legends of the Yukon.

Smith is a piece of work, a character hardened by more than thirty years in the bush. He possesses a rare quality, an aura almost, supported not by any physical threat but worse than that, by a quality of acceptance or rejection dispensed merely with a glance or gaze, from one so highly respected. He does not suffer fools gladly, and throughout our travels I find myself watching him and receive an insight into his character one day when the line of the trail became confused, Hogan and Smith changing modes of transportation, and I happen upon Cowboy Smith on the trail, pulled over, leaning against Hogan's machine. I pulled alongside him.

"Who's ahead, Cowboy?" I asked him. He glanced down at our machines, looked back up and placed his hands about a foot apart.

"You're this far from the lead," he said.

Carmacks proved another reprieve from our nights on the trail. Once again we played road hockey, this time against ten, eleven-year-olds, an experience John Flynn would describe as his most memorable of the trip. We departed Carmacks with the knowledge that there was only one more night in the bush, but warned that the trail deteriorated and would be our most difficult stretch. The dogteams have been trucked to Braeburn, where they'll mush into meet us at our final camp on the north shore of Lake Labarge.

And thus begins a terrible day, masked by an initial, wonderful run across the chain of lakes, but then descending, after sixty-five miles, into a hilly, narrow, twisting and tortuous trail where accidents occur, Wes Petersen's machine is so damaged he would drive it out onto the highway the following morning.

Of over thirteen machines I believe only John Flynn and Freddy Farr have escaped unscathed, the rest of us jamming our machines into snowbanks, tumbling them over upon us, striking trees dead on, Bruce Duffee's accident the worst when he sliced sideways off the trail and into the trees, shearing his windshield and controls off his machine, miraculously sparing himself.

After what seemed an eternity I gunned down a ridge into the familiar sights and sounds of camp, the mushers heating their kettles on the fire, their dogs yapping in expectation of a meal, and then broad, exhilarating expanse of Lake Labarge emerges in the descending, late-afternoon darkness. What a wondrous sight this is, and I pause before joining the others in the never-ending preparation of camp, to just stare out over the scene, the thirty-mile long lake ringed with mountains, the water open, surprisingly so, a hundred yards in, the mushers tramping over the snow-covered ice to dip their kettles into the lake for an easier batch of water.

And it's here more than anywhere that I sense the awesome, silent beauty of this land, and of this adventure I share. It is an incredible turn of events that allows me to live out a story that I'd recounted in a novel, and for this moment, here on the northern shore of Lake Labarge, I realize I am the luckiest man alive.

Tomorrow we will run thirty miles of lake, twenty more miles up the Yukon River and enter Whitehorse, and the first, and hardest leg of our journey will be over. And I think of Randy McMillan's telegraph to Joe Boyle upon the original Nuggets' arrival in Whitehorse, 1905, a reflection our own sentiments now, in 1997. "We have arrived and are very tired, but we are on schedule."

top.gif

Whatever Happened to Archie Martin?

A Dawson Hockey Mystery

by Don Reddick

Every great story contains a little mystery, and with the Dawson City Klondikers expedition that mystery surrounds the circumstance of a 140 pound jack-of-all-trades named Archie Martin.

Martin was a linotype operator in the print shops of Ottawa when the pot-heard-round-the-world was discovered in Rabbit Creek in the far off Klondike region. Ottawa reacted to the exciting news the same as every other city in North America, organizing groups of men and businesses to set off and claim their rightful portion of the spoils.

Martin, something of a black sheep as the youngest of four sons, the other three all Doctors, was all of 5'6" and one hundred and forty pounds. He applied to one of the groups and was promptly turned down because of this size.

Undaunted, Martin set out for Dawson City on his own, where he met and became a close friend and employee of one Joe Boyle, a figure soon to be prominent in the Dawson City Klondiker Stanley Cup challenge. And the newspapers of December 19, 1904 claim that he set off with fellow Klondiker Hector Smith and George Sureshot Kennedy. This is the historical record. So where's the mystery?

Well, in researching the Dawson trek some inconsistencies become apparent. When Randy McLennan, a forward on the Dawson team, aggravated an old leg injury in the first Cup game against Ottawa, instead of spare Archie Martin stepping in and fulfilling the role he allegedly played, the team sent for a former Ottawa man named Fairbairn, who, like Lorne Hanney, the Klondikers felt was eligible because he had once played hockey in the Klondike. Why didn't Martin play?

Not only did Martin not play in the series, but his name does not appear as participating in the post game banquet, which was attended by all other members of both the Ottawa Silver Seven and their Klondike guests. In fact, nowhere is Martin mentioned after the team left Dawson. But still there is no definitive reason to believe Martin actually wasn't along until I visited Joe Boyle's hometown of Woodstock, Ontario. And there, in the Joe Boyle file in the public library, I found an old, tattered envelope with a faded Aylmer newspaper clipping inside dated 1946 - an interview with recently returned native son, Archie Martin. In the article Martin tells a few tall tales and gets some names and places wrong, he brags about being Boyle's right-hand man for years on the Boyle Concession, but most importantly he dos NOT claim to have participated in what was even then the most notorious event in Stanley Cup history. And then the caveat: Martin states that after traveling to the Yukon as a pioneer of '98, he didn't come out for twenty-eight years!

Some circumstantial evidence, Henry David Thoreau once said, is very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk. Well, here our trout is named Archie Martin, which begs our last question, and the one that may never be answered" why?

But as a researching novelist one must try to reconstruct events and thoughts and intentions as best one can, with limited input. And the possible answer to the Archie Martin mystery may lie in the fact that the Ottawa team, once they heard Lorne Hannay was picked up in Winnipeg, officially protested the games to the Cup trustees. Hannay was no longer living in the Klondike, and was therefore ineligible for the Dawson team. Had Dawson won, it is very likely that the trustees would have decided to nullify the result based on the legitimate Ottawa protest. Knowing this would probably occur, did they foresee the problem and try to hid it?, did Boyle and his boys try to pull a fast one? "Let's tell 'em our spare is traveling with us, and we'll pick up another player on the way, with nobody the wiser?" Well, once Lorne Hannay was picked up, all hope of fooling the Ottawas was lost - Hannay had played against them the previous winter in Brandon's losing Cup challenge, scoring two goals.

The rest is history. Dawson lost, the Ottawa protest became a mute point, and we're left ninety years later with our mystery: What is the truth about Archie Martin?

top.gif

The Circle of Life: Meaning in the Art of Michael Mason

by Palma Berger

Michael Mason believes all things are interconnected. This was evident at the recent showing of his art work at the Band Hall. His carvings done with a small grinder, were of eagles in flight, of caribou as well as etchings on moose antlers.

But also impressive were his line drawings. The circle of life with the four lines going in opposite directions was featured in some way in each drawing. The drawings themselves were done without lifting the pen or brush; every animal, bird, bush or being in the drawings were thus connected.

Mason believes strongly in the value of wildlife; without wildlife we have nothing. He admits that when he was growing up he used to shoot and hunt more for sport. He now regrets this as he realises how precious the wildlife is. He tries to convey this in his carefully executed drawings. These are done freehand; he copies nothing; he just sits and thinks and the drawings seem to flow from him.

As a First Nations person Mason believes a First Nations person lives for the land. For this reason he keeps his work away from an environment that is not in sync with this feeling. He would not take his artwork to the bars or similar environment to sell.

These drawings have a balance to them as does nature. A wolf is depicted creeping up to a caribou whose head is held high. One knows what is going to happen, and feels for the proud caribou; but Mason explains it has to be, because the wolf is doing a service by culling out the weaker animals and the strong will survive and reproduce. The circle of life continues.

One feels the strength of an eagle whose wings are outstretched to soar, and the playfulness of three orca whales as they form a circle leaping from the water while below the water the salmon swims on, and the connectedness of bear, person and tree.

Most drawings are in black and white, from the fishwheel done to commemorate Dave Taylor bringing the fish wheel from Alaska to Dawson, to the profiles of people trees and animals. The occasional one in colour. The one drawing with a teal blue background seems to have such depth to the blue that one cannot really tell what blue it is, and the red lines of the drawing appear to emerge from a great depth.

Mason's present job is as research worker with Land Claims. His other main concern is Wildlife, which is why he was disappointed that more First Nations people did not turnout to see his Art Show because he thought he had reache many of them with his concerns. The pieces in his show are the result of a year and half work. All designs are totally new.

Mason wants to be know as a creative artist because he produces what he feels inside. An artist, he feels, is someone who has been trained a certain way, but a creative artist draws from his own feelings and emotions.

He also considers the artworld is back ward. A theme seems to be repeated in different materials. In nature nothing has the same pattern even down to moose horns and caribou antlers.

He expresses his sense of how special "uniqueness" is when he says, "One cannot touch the surface of water twice and get the same results each time. These (his drawings) are the first ever pictures to be seen on this planet."

top.gif

Trek Over the Top

by Eric Zalitas

This year once again was a tremendous success. For three weekends Dawson hosted snowmobilers from both Canada and the United States. The first weekend was the second annual "Destination Tok." This ride has been set up for snowmobilers from the Yukon and the rest of Canada.

In June 1996 this ride was promoted in Toronto Ontario at the largest snowmobile show in North America. As a result a group of snowmobilers from that area visited Dawson to partake in the run. This group included the President of the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. This group on their return to Toronto will be including their visit to Dawson City in various publications that they contribute to. Also included were snowmobilers from Inuvik, Whitehorse and Dawson City.

The ride was challenging, it made the inexperienced rider into a seasoned veteran. By all indications it appears this run will continue in the future. Over the past few months numerous enquiries have been received from as far away as Finland and Germany to join this adventure.

The following two weekends Dawson was invaded by hundreds of snowmobiles. The first weekend 224 snowmobilers Trekked over the Top and enjoyed the hospitality of Dawson. Over their three night visit several events were planned. Thursday night the majority just wanted to relax, with many visiting Diamond Tooth Gerties. On Friday after a local tour of the dome the visitors were able to visit the Museum. Even after a long snowmobile ride about 40 snowmobilers turned curlers visited the Curling Rink to throw a few rocks down the ice.

The local snowmobile club hosted events near the dike on Front Street. The evenings ended up at Diamond Tooth Gerties.

Friday evening the Dawson City Firefighters Association hosted a steak barbecue. Following the barbecue live entertainment was provided by the Frantic Follies and the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society from Whitehorse.. The shows included the Can-Can Dancers, the traditional way and snowshoe way. Numerous musical instruments were used including violins, banjos and handsaws. There even was a it of magic in each of the shows.

On Saturday the Dawson City Snowmobile Club hosted the Dawson City Gold Run which departed from Northern Superior. Over 200 snowmachines, including a large number of local riders, followed the groomed trail in search of gold, which was generously donated by the City of Dawson. The evening ended with a dinner banquet and a large number of door prizes being handed out.

The weekend ended on Sunday with the return trip to Tok. The weekend was not without its stories. On Thursday one snowmobiler had the misfortune of putting a snowmachine over the side near the border. In an attempt to recover the machine the rider ran into some problems and was unable to get back to the trail. The Yukon Rangers were called upon who sent a brave crew out and successfully located this individual, returning him and machine safely back to Dawson. One other machine had the misfortune to go over another slope, only finding a tree ending its riderless run.

The following weekend 200 snowmobilers made the Trek. The events were repeated from the previous weekend. One machine this weekend also did not make it all the way, it also had an encounter with a tree. Overall the weekends were a tremendous success. The community of Dawson has welcomed the visitors of which numerous comments were received from then participants. They vow they will return on the Trek and also make a visit in the summer months.

Over the first weekend of the Trek, Petersen Productions Inc of Vancouver were in Dawson City. They are in production of Snowmotion IV "Extreme Sledding." Their snowmobile videos are known North America wide. Dawson City and the Yukon will be featured in their new video which will be available in the Fall of 1997.

top.gif

Dawson's Spring Carnival Conquers Flurries and Wind

by Dan Davidson

Thaw di Gras weekend in Dawson didn't go off exactly as planned, but there didn't seem to be many complaints in the packed hall at Diamond Tooth Gerties as a good cross section of the community turned out for the Wind-up Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday night. The fire chief might have been concerned about violations of the occupancy code, but that's about all.

"The weather was the pits," spring carnival organizer Lorie Sprokkreeff told the crowd. "Lots of events got off schedule and were held on different days than on the program." She said it was one of the harder carnivals that she's had to organize, and apologized if she had sometimes been a little short with people when things got tense.

The crowd was in a forgiving mood and applauded nearly everything she said, so it must not have worked out too badly after all.

Thaw di Gras is Dawson's attempt to do something fun for itself before the tourists arrive and take up everyone's energy. Once past the first day of spring, that time is never far away and seems to come faster every year.

The three page list of events, spread out from Thursday night to Sunday night, was daunting to look at. A number of things got in the way. For the kids, Thursday night was a study night, with exams the next day. Then twenty of the higher energy youngsters departed for Quebec, matching the number of higher energy adults who were already in Ottawa, where the Nuggets upheld history by losing in grand style, or so it was announced during the banquet.

Never mind. The next generation is waiting in the wings. A junior Nuggets team, dressed to the hilt and looking ready to play serious hockey, pumped out several heavy hitting sports cheer songs at the kids' lip sync contest on Saturday night. It was just one of many entries.

The winning adult entry, from Friday night's adult air band, was a remake of Michael Jackson's famous "Thriller" from the mid-eighties, proving that Dawsonites sure know their HIStory. This group put on their act at the banquet as well, to loud applause.

By all accounts, the ski-doo races on the river and the hilarious snowshoe baseball game involved so many people that some other events scheduled at the same time on Saturday were postponed until Sunday.

The Sunnydale Classic dog race was healthy again this year, drawing 10 contenders into the -10 degrees C air along the Yukon River in spite of the 35 kph winds along the route.

The winds were still pretty high on Sunday night, too high for it to make sense to set off the planned fireworks display. The explosives have arrived this year, though (last year they were late), and will be set off this Thursday night to start the Easter long weekend.

One of the major events of this weekend seemed to be the Scavenger Hunt, which tied up telephone lines and peoples' lives for hours while they tried to track down all the historical and current events items on the extensive list, compose an epic limerick to sum up their quest ,and figure out how to bribe the judges (not really) so they could win the gold nugget that Favron Enterprises had offered as first prize.

Other traditional activities included the pancake breakfasts, Sourdough Sam's Dog Show, Family Hockey Tourney, the relay race and the many outdoor games for all ages. The bars were busy as well, packing in players to a number of games, including arm wrestling and a variation of pin the tail on the donkey which cannot be named, let alone described, in a family paper.

A new and quite popular event was called "human bowling." The mind boggles at the thought of this creation from the Dawson City Firefighters.

top.gif

Band Teacher Goes Solo

by Dan Davidson


Adam McConnell shows his stuff at a recent concert. Photo by Dan Davidson

What does a teacher do when he's not being a teacher? Younger students often ask variations on that question, surprised at seeing their instructors in other settings, apparently thinking that they bunk out under their desks at night and never leave the school.

Actually they do many other things, but it's sometimes not obvious that they have lives apart from their jobs. Sometimes, people forget that an instructor doesn't just teach kids to play from scratch or conduct their increasingly complicated performances during band concerts.

In the case of Adam McConnell, the band teacher at the Robert Service School, no one would make that mistake. McConnell has been involved in a steady succession of local bands since he first arrived here five years ago, and has played a number of the local venues on a regular basis as well as being on stage at the Dawson City Music Festival a time or two.

Usually, McConnell is playing guitar, keyboards or percussion in a rock or blues setting, and that's where he started as a musician when he was in high school, but along the way to an education degree, he also majored in one special instrument, the classical guitar.

Oddly enough, he's never played it here in public. So the evening of March 15 was a special time. McConnell settled down at the front of the mini-theatre at the Dawson City Museum, propped his left leg up on a Tupperware ("It's so hard to find a proper footstool in Dawson.") and presented about 45 minutes of delightful, unamplified guitar plucking.

His choices ranged from Yes' "Mood for a Day" to works by Leo Brouwer, Fernando Sor, Christopher Parkening and Johann Sebastian Bach. He also included a number of his own compositions, some written at university, some since then.

The appreciative audience of more than 100 packed the benches and lined the west wall of the small theatre, leaving some people still standing at the back of the room.

McConnell concluded his concert with perky rendition of an old Beatles' standard, "Blackbird", a deceptively tricky little tune that left the room with just a hint of spring.

top.gif

Underground Designer Dies

by Palma Berger

Kippenberger is the German artist who designed the underground subway station that is situated on Front and Harper, next to The Bunkhouse. It was opened about 3 years ago. The idea of the subway was that it was a statement that all the world should be linked, and so he had a similar 'subway station' built in Greece, and another planned in another country.

Kippenberger had a lust for life and really enjoyed himself while in Dawson. It was a real shock when Deutsche Welle, (The German television station) announced that on March 20th this year, Martin Kippenberger had passed away in Germany at the age of 43 years.

Kippenberger was famous in Germany and there was quite a coverage and review of his work on the German news.

top.gif

She Shoots She Scores

by Marjorie Logue

On the weekend of March 7th, 48 women from the Yukon joined in Haines Junction for the first annual Women's Hockey Jamboree. The organisers were more than happy with the turn out and are looking forward to even greater numbers next year.

Four teams battled in a round robin set up. Team 4 won all of their three games,7-3, 8-4 and 4-3. Second place went to team 2 with two wins 6-3 and 12-6. Team 3 won one game 7-5 and team 1 had no wins.

Each team was assigned a coach for the weekend. We would like to thank Don Storehouse (1), Maralyne Rogers (2), Gene Hawes (3) and Jordan Holloway (4), for their time and effort.

The weekend was a success on and off the ice. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new hockey skills. A commemorative T-shirt , designed by Marty Richie, was given to each player for participating.

Thank-you to Val Drummond (Haines Junction), for organizing the Jamboree. Thank-you also to Sue Hamilton (Whitehorse) for making up teams and and Liz Woods (Dawson) for organizing the Gold City Travellers.

For all of you women out there thinking about playing hockey, stop thinking and just do it. It's loads of fun.

There will be a Female Hockey Development camp in Whitehorse April 25, 26, 27. This is for all ages and levels. For more information please contact Sue Hamilton at 667-6611, Cheryl Peters at Sports Yukon 668-4236 or Jim Quinsey at 668-6984.

To all the old and new players see you next year!

top.gif

Klondike Sun Home Page