Dawson City, Yukon Friday, August 31, 2001

The Tr'ondk Hwch'in emphasized first nations culture in their Discovery Festival parade entry, which won second prize. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Discovery Festival Re-energizes Weekend
First Yukon Arts Festival Makes a Splash Along the Dike
Three for the Price of One: A Walk Along Authors' Avenue
Berton House "a wonderful and unique writers' residency"
Tim Barnard: "Nature is a continuous source of inspiration for me"
Graham Burnett Looks at Canadian Landscape Deep Amid the Hills
Rachel Manley: Working in Agony Until the Coin Drops
Love Triumphs Over All at the Follies
Dollars for Dredge Restoration
Mr. and Mrs. Miner 2001
Travis Takes Tub Race on Fourth Try

Welcome to the August 31, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 44 photographs and 26 article which were in the 32 page August 28 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, the winning photos in the Klondike Photo Contest, the winning short story in the Heart of the Klondike contest and, obviously, all the material you won't find here. See what you're missing by not subscribing?

Seriously, we do encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun (details on the home page). It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online, and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers.

This issue marked the departure of our summer reporter intern Heather Robb, who did a great job, and volunteer writer Tom Mrozewski, who brought a fresh youth perspective to the paper.

Discovery Festival Re-energizes Weekend

by Dan Davidson

Discovery Days weekend featured not one, but two, festivals in the Klondike capital. The annual Discovery Festival was joined this year by the fledgling Yukon Arts Festival.

Friday's events were oriented to arts and sports, including a program celebrating the authors whose residences are on Eighth Avenue (London, Service, and Berton), the conclusion of a writing contest, the launching of the youth and interactive artists tents on the dyke, the official opening of the new Artist in Residence centre and a presentation of 16 mm films. meanwhile at the ball diamonds, the Mens' Fastball Tournament got under way and continued until Sunday.

Saturday opened with a pancake breakfast. moved on to the Horticultural Show, teed off a gold tournament at the Top of the World Golf Club across the Yukon River and lined up for the parade at noon.

The floats were imaginative this year, though the parade did lack the inclusion of any sort of marching band, as has been the custom for a few years now.

With almost everything up and running a variety of awards were passed out at the Front Street Gazebo and then that area became a music site, starting with Steve Slade and continuing with a Yukon Youth Showcase.

There was an art auction at the ODD Gallery in the evening and the weather, which had held out most of the day, was not kind to the evening street dance, which seemed to continue in spite of it all. There were tents to boggie under after all.

Sunday's dedication was the installation of the plaque for the Klondike Millennium Trail.

The loudest event was probably the Mud Bog and drag race events held across the New Dome Road from the new ball diamond on Sunday afternoon. The smoke and the mud were flying as competitors raced against each other and the grip of that famous Dawson mud.

Other events continued all over town, including the arrival of the Bathtub racers from Whitehorse.

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First Yukon Arts Festival Makes a Splash Along the Dike

by Heather Robb


Jewelry maker Lorraine Millar shows off her craft at the arts festival. Photo by Heather Robb

Over Discovery Days weekend, artists from various nooks and crannies of the territory gathered in Dawson to show their work, their techniques, and to feed off the collective creative energy, at KIAC's first annual Yukon Arts Festival.

Festival coordinator Kendra Wallace is thrilled with the success of the event.

"A lot of these artists have full time jobs and don't get to do this a lot. So this gave them three days to focus on their art and generate ideas. Everyone loves to talk about what they want to do, and be in a creative atmosphere. And it was an opportunity to give them a bit of recognition. We know them as the coffee roaster, or the carpenter, or whatever. This gave them some exposure as artists," she said.

Lilyan Grubach-Hambrook, a printmaker and painter from Whitehorse was thrilled to meet with other Yukon artists.

"As visual artists, we're so under-represented. It happens because we're notoriously singular and work alone. Here we're collaborating and talking about all kinds of ideas. It's great," said .

Over the weekend, Grubach shared a display tent on the dike with John Steins and John Overell, both printmakers from Dawson, where she fielded questions and helped visitors to try some basic printmaking techniques. Some of her paintings were displayed at Klondike Kate's, and she also had pieces for sale in the merchant's tent.

"Visual artists have a hard time getting together, because really, they agree on diddley squat. I'd never met John Steins or Jackie Olsen [until now], though I've been hearing about these people for like ten years," she said.

Making contacts in Dawson was good for Grubach, since she is contemplating having an open studio and teaching printmaking classes in Dawson-- in order to give people access to an art form which requires expensive equipment.

"At least three artists now want to come and do workshops with KIAC," Wallace reported.

"The pinhole camera display had a huge response, and [Mario Villeneuve] wants to make Dawson a kind of base for his work. Next summer he plans to do a wall tent raft trip, taking photos and using historical processes all the way down the river, and then do a show here," she said.

Lilian Laponen, a watercolourist from Keno City who shared a tent with Jackie Olsen from Dawson, said that while she does a lot of public interaction in her own community, she was glad to participate in a Yukon-focused event.

"Where else in the Yukon do we have an arts festival?," she asked.

Though Laponen said she already knows most of the featured artists, coming to the festival gave her the opportunity to spread the word about the opening of her own studio/gallery in Keno earlier this summer.

According to Wallace, the first annual art auction that was part of the festival, raised just under $3000 for KIAC.

As a recent graduate of KIAC's Arts for Employment program, Wallace herself witnessed the first sale ever of her own artwork in the auction-- a black and white photo titled "Grapefruit."

Of the 46 featured pieces in the auction, only about six were left over, including two Halin de Repentigny paintings, both tagged at around $3000.

"Sales over the weekend were generally good, but some artists, particularly those who do things like this all the time and who make their living from sales, expected to sell more work. A lot of the less expensive stuff like John Stein's prints, the rakus, and some of the jewelry sold. What didn't sell were the more expensive pieces. We're going to look into new ways of promoting that side of it. People just don't expect high end art at this kind of event," said Wallace.

The business side of art in the Yukon was also topic for discussion among artists over the weekend.

Grubach said that while she lived in Guelph, Ontario, she was able to make a living selling her work, but in the Yukon she has to supplement her income via other means.

"You naturally look for jobs in the arts field-- which is limited of course. There are a lot of people in trade related things like refinishing boats, restructuring buildings," she said.

Grubach herself has worked in music stores, theatre, and as the artistic director for Frostbite Music Festival, in order to support herself.

And while printmaking is her first love, and a more time intensive discipline, she makes more money off of paintings than prints.

"It's the Canadian market-- people think a piece is valuable if they see big globs of paint. But that's not what they're paying for, of course," she said.

Laponen agreed that an art career requires income supplementation.

"I couldn't survive just on my water colours," she admitted.

She is able to make a living in the arts related field, with contracts for museum exhibit development, as well as painting murals for the museum, and the Keno City community club.

However, Laponen thinks that being an artist in the Yukon puts her at an advantage over artists who live further south.

"People from the outside notice you more. It's the mystique of the Yukon-- they have preconceived ideas about the place. If you're an artist from the Yukon, you have a natural in, whereas if you're an artist from the city there's so much competition you just get lost," she said.

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Three for the Price of One: A Walk Along Authors' Avenue

by Dan Davidson

There's been something new going on along Eighth Avenue this summer. The street hold the homes which once housed Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton, but usually the three sites have pretty much done their own thing.

"This year," says Johnny Noonan, who handles the folks who come to pay homage to the poet, "it's a partnership."

That might seem a natural thing, but the three sites haven't interacted much in the past, just as their namesakes hardly met in real life. Service's Cabin is run by Klondike National Historic Sites. It is the site of a talk, given this year by Noonan, who does a lively presentation and a gripping rendition of "The Shooting of Dan McGrew". After that, people can look in the little cabin at the top of the lot, furnished much as it might have been when Service occupied its two rooms.

The Klondike Visitors Association looks after the other locations.

London's Cabin has a log interpretive centre right beside it crammed with memorabilia collected by author Dick North, who still spends half of each summer here giving talks about his hero.

Berton House is in use for the Writer in Residence program and cannot be toured, but there is an interpretive set of plaques on a viewing stand in the lane at the front of the house, and a plaque on the south wall of the building.

There's no one there to explain the whole project, but that's fine this year, because it's being mentioned at the other sites.

"Basically, the whole premise behind the Author's Avenue is a marriage between London and Service," said Noonan, "a partnership which I think is just skookum.

"It's all about promoting Dawson, so if visitors come and they get a better bang for their buck they get to know about two of the most prominent Yukon authors. The fee is five bucks for about an hour and fifteen minutes here and a half hour at Jack London's."

As part of his Service talk, Noonan includes a brief history of the cabin, some background about KNHS and an overview of the Berton House program. While Berton is probably better known to Canadians than the other two writers, the reverse is true for Americans and Europeans, so it works out well.

"It's an educational thing. I tell many Americans about Pierre Berton, about his movie ("City of Gold") and his books, especially Klondike, or Klondike Fever, as they call it. People go 'What's that book, and they write it down and some of them go buy it.' They get part of that lore and mystique of the Yukon and maybe they'll come back, because they had such a good time."

Sometimes Noonan hears it said that there are too many things for tourists to do in Dawson, but he figures the more the better.

"If we can get people to leave here and say 'Gee, I wish I could've had more time' then we've done our work, 'cause they'll come back."

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Berton House "a wonderful and unique writers' residency"

by Dan Davidson

On April 26 the Canada Council announced a massive infusion of financial support into the Berton House Writers' Retreat program. This will amount to $100,000 over the next three years.

Gordon Platt, with the Canada Council, visited Dawson in July to get a first-hand look at what the group was involved in. He was most impressed.

"This is a wonderful and unique writers' residency," he said. "It's probably the most northern in the world.

"It's important for Canadian writers right across the country to get a better sense of the north and the heritage of the north as well. This residency provides them with a wonderful opportunity to do this."

The new council funding will cover the costs for four writers to visit the residence each year. Beginning in November 2001, each writer will receive a monthly fellowship of $2,000 plus air travel to the Yukon.

This lifts a considerable burden from the shoulders of the Berton House Committee, which manages the program, assisted by the Dawson Community Library Board, and the Klondike Visitors Association, which manages the building. The funds they have been raising can now go into mundane things like paying the winter fuel bill, which is substantial.

The new funding has also opened the possibility of expanding the retreat to include writers from outside of Canada. Up to now, all the writers have been Canadian residents, usually (though not always) at the beginning of their careers.

"We think," Platt said, "it would be interesting for writers from Scotland, Mexico, South America or Europe to experience the Canadian North, and take that experience back and put it into books or stories they might write for newspapers or magazines.

"The thing about writers is that they are communicators, and this kind of residency fosters a better understanding and communication about life in the north, which you can't just get from a week long visit or a few days here and a few days there.

"You really need to live in a community to experience what life is like there."

Berton house writers have been pretty consistent in commenting on the quality of the experience.

"Apparently," Platt noted, "one of the main problems is getting the people to leave once they've been smitten."

"We love this residency, at the Canada Council, because it's really Canadian. It takes writers from Pictou Island, Vancouver Island or Repulse Bay and it transports them to another part of the country that has a long, rich, historical tradition and a really unique community and immerses them in it."

The Council has a wealth of experience in funding residency programs to draw upon in looking at this one.

"We fund residencies in a whole host of cities," Platt said, "from Saint Johns through to Regina, Winnipeg and Vancouver. This is probably the most rewarding one for the writers. It provides them with the most rich, local experiences.

"It's because of volunteers, the goodwill of the KVA and the local library community that's it's working, and also those wonderful people in Whitehorse. Things move because of volunteerism, and bit of public support and some infrastructure like the KVA can provide.

There are some changes that Platt would like to see made to the house, specifically the addition of local art work for decoration and display.

"We'd also like to get a Berton House collection established in the local library," he said. "Sometimes some of the books are not available locally."

Canada Council would like to have copies of the writers' works available in the library and in the local bookstores (here and in Whitehorse) before the writers arrive.

"We're really happy with the residency and we want to see that it can go on in perpetuity, that it can contribute to making Dawson City more of a cultural and arts destination, known for its rich culture and heritage.

"With the KIAC (Klondike Institute of Art and Culture) residencies that are developing, it really is beginning to happen."

While in the Yukon, Platt met with book publishers, book store owners and writers, consulted about a new anthology of Yukon writing that is under development and adjusted his perceptions of what would it would be practical for the council to do in the North.

"It's been really useful because the models we create for Canada don't always work in every community and the North has a specific population challenge and a more significant aboriginal population that doesn't always mesh perfectly with our programs.

"It's good for us to discuss these issues with creators and make adjustments to programs to allow for the specific challenges of life in the North.

"For author travel, for instance - we fund around 4,000 readings with writers in libraries and community centres around the country every year. We have scales for travel - and we've had to double them for the North. We've also worked out in Nunavut a network of community libraries that apply to us and then link up on a author trip."

None of which means that the Canada Council is willing to take the lead in creating these projects. They have to prove themselves.

"The quality of life," said Platt, "is really a function of the willingness of people to give their time up and organize it."

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Tim Barnard: "Nature is a continuous source of inspiration for me"

by Heather Robb


Tim Barnard "at home" in the new Artist's residence in Dawson City. Photo by Heather Robb

Depending on whether you're camera-shy or camera-houndish, you may want to avoid cruising up Princess Street in the direction of Seventh Ave-- or else you might want to increase your circuit of that block, and bat your eyes and pouf your hair some.

Tim Barnard, Dawson's first Artist-in-Residence, has settled into his space at the MacCaulay House. And he's got a camera permanently perched on the window of his studio, where every day he films a little bit of the same scene. He wants to record changes over time and season while he's here. Like, when he started, the guy across the way was building a fence around his yard and now it's complete.

Aside from the still filming (which is pretty low maintenance), since arriving early this month, Barnard has been doing some drawing, comic-strip making and hanging out.

"It's so nice being out of the city, which was the huge attraction of this place-- to hang out in the forest. Nature is a continuous source of inspiration for me, which is odd because my work is urban," he said.

He heard about the program through his friend Paul Henderson, a Dawson artist. Barnard, Henderson and Chera Hunchuk all went to the same high school and were inspired by the same art teacher.

Barnard studied at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, where he began showing his work during his final few years. Then last summer, he earned a scholarship to study painting at Yale University. During the program, he worked out of an old estate, donated to the school for painters and musicians.

"It was pretty wild," he said of the experience.

This summer, before heading to Dawson, he was laying low in Calgary.

"I've been trying not to work too much and just concentrate on my art," he said. Over the winter he was able to sell some paintings, which enabled him to do that.

This September, his art video "Backlit Season" will be on display at the Art Gallery of Calgary, though he won't be able to see it, because he'll be here. But he's brought a copy with him, and hopes to show it at KIAC.

One of Barnard's ongoing projects is his chaos drawings, which depict intricate interwoven narratives in a collage of free hand drawn figures. The figures, mostly though not all human, are all active-- they're either praying, playing guitar, dancing the twist, driving motorbikes or hot rods, drinking beer or whatever. The arrows indicate the movement of the stories through the piece.

"I'm trying to make it more coherent for the reader. Right now I'm using symbology, and story telling motifs that really only people who make comic books know about.

"I know it all relates, and that's what's important to me," he added.

One drawing titled "Wage" portrays the interconnectedness of people's lives. The same lady who is dancing to her record player is in another spot giving a squeegee kid the finger. In turn, the squeegee kid, in another caption, is holding a gun to his own head.

Barnard said he's always amazed and thrilled at what others can pick out of his drawings, even if they don't know the symbology.

Another project which Barnard just recently finished is the ninth edition of his comic book called Fusion Tunnel. To me, this seems (on a first read) like a fantastic format for Barnard's talents.

The comic's protagonist is a guy named Beep who has a big head (literally) and lots of struggles- with employment, alarm clocks, relationships, money and self. He feels sorry for himself lots, but so does the reader, because he can be really poetic. My favorite segment is one called "Is your blue jean jacket like mine?" Beep lists all the things that the jean jacket has been through, that mark the ups and downs of his ordinary life.

"Has it been rolled up like a pillow on park benches or vomit stained houseparty floors or eternal bus rides across great planes of doubt that mark new chapters in your life...

"Has it been introduced to guilt and love and duty and pride and prejudice and fabric softener or the fumbling hands of a new lover chaotically searching for truth... has it come to an understanding of a lack of understanding that its colour is the general mood of you."

So far, Barnard's thrilled at how many people he's met since arriving in Dawson. And he's now visited every bar, except the Westmark, where he plans to go if he ever wants to be alone.

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Graham Burnett Looks at Canadian Landscape Deep Amid the Hills

by Heather Robb


Graham Burnett at the ODD Gallery. Photo by Heather Robb

Graham Burnett's exhibit Deep Amid the Hills, currently on display at the Odd Gallery is a vibrant, energetic response to typical Canadian landscapes.

Though Burnett is from the Vancouver area, where the landscape of the coastal mountain range, and the nearby ancient rain forests can be dramatic, even grandiose, he has chosen to explore a much more humble and commonplace environment. He uses scenes of coniferous forests, in which the tree trunks, viewed at ground level, are bare of foliage. These are scenes that could come from almost anywhere in Canada (or the Northern American states)-- and are not identifiable by place or time.

The most striking part of the exhibit is undoubtedly the series of 21 painted cyanotypes along the left wall of the gallery (from the front door entrance). In each piece, the same cyanotype (blueprint)-- a shot of a coniferous forest from ground level-- is painted differently. The three distinctive elements-- the snowy ground, the sky (or is it a background of more and more trees?), and the stick-like trees in the foreground take on different colours, textures, and emphasis in each piece.

The power of this series comes from the use of repetition-- a device that is, of course, best known in poetry-- where letters, words, parts of words, and sounds are repeated (amid variations, of course) for the process of accumulating experience and meaning. Not only is the scene repeated throughout the series, but the trunks are repetitions of other trunks within the scene.

"If you look at them long enough, you can probably make out a rhythm, and perhaps even a rhyme. What rhymes with blue? Just let your imagination go," said Burnett, the night the show opened.

The variables of colour give each piece a distinctive mood and tone-- for example, the orange and bright red in some places connotes heat and even danger, while in other places, blues or greens create a cooler setting. Yet as the eye moves from one piece to the next, and takes in the series as a whole, there is the experience of returning and returning again, as one does in dreams. And so the question arises-- to what am I returning?

The effect of the pattern, or of the potential for pattern-making, is emphasis of an image which is, in itself, unassuming-- a bunch of vertical sticks. And so this series evokes a kind of archetype formation-- suggesting that the ordinary and the familiar can make haunting impressions.

Also interesting about this series is the combination of two mediums-- cyanotype and paint. Cyanotype is a process of photography, originally created by Sir John Herschel in 1842, in which the final print is characteristically blue in colour (a much less brassy blue, of course, than the blue paint that is used in places) . To varying degrees, the underlying blueprint is visible in almost every one of the pieces in the tree series. In one piece, only a few trunks are accentuated with paint, and otherwise the blueprint is entirely exposed. In other places, the blueprint is just visible beneath the actual paint. And so the work raises the issue of what it is to "paint over" something.

The myth of the palimpsest is useful in an analysis of the effect. The myth is such that after the print of ancient Egyptian manuscripts faded, inheritors would reuse the manuscripts-- in effect they would "write over" the original text. However, modern scholars can now, with special equipment, make out the indentations of the initial print, beneath the more recent print. The effect is that the original writing, or knowledge, or understanding, is never eradicated-- it resonates and mingles with the new.

Burnett's work, with the original cyanotype both painted over and yet still exposed in places, has similar connotations. Experience-- in this case, of the landscape-- is layered. The human eye can view this natural scene in a whole spectrum of different colours, fresh each time, imaginatively rich. And yet, it can't be seen without historical cultural associations-- including the dynamic of human conquest over nature-- still being there. We in fact inherit "blueprints" or pre-defined relationships that must constantly be challenged, recreated, painted over. Though we may wish to experience the forest each time as if it were the first time, with freshness, that history is always present, too-- as suggested by the visible traces of blueprint in Burnett's tree series.

According to Burnett, he chose not to title individual pieces within the exhibit because he thinks titles can create preconceived attitudes to the paintings. The title of the exhibit, Deep Amid the Hills, was decided on collaboratively, by he and his wife of twenty years, Sue Burnett.

"We decided we needed a title, so we were going through books of poetry, and at last I found a haiku by a Japanese poet with the line "deep amid the hills," and it just seemed to fit. Sue said 'that'll do.'"

Burnett stated that Sue is "a very good critic," and often helps him with the finishing touches on his work. Because his studio space is limited, he was unable to lay out the 21 piece tree series before taking it to his first show. And so Sue studied the paintings and decided what arrangement to show them in.

Burnett is a retired accountant. After retiring he earned a degree in philosophy and then a diploma from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and has been working on his art ever since. He also spends lots of time hiking, particularly in the Rockies.

His plans are "to keep doing [art], and to look at different landscapes-- swamps, marshes, and rivers."

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Rachel Manley: Working in Agony Until the Coin Drops

by Dan Davidson

Rachel Manley's husband thought she was crazy when she decided to apply for the residency at Berton House. He knew how she felt about cold weather.

"He knew it was the Yukon and thought it would be cold. I don't cope with the cold well. He would have loved to be in the Yukon, but he's not a Jamaican."

Manley, who currently resides in Toronto, returns to her home island half a dozen times a year, especially during Ontario's winter months.

Despite rumours to the contrary, that was not why she found it necessary to cut short her stay and leave after just a month in Dawson. Her son had been involved in a motorcycle accident in the USA earlier in the year. He had been transferred to Jamaica to take advantage of his citizenship and that country's medicare system, but the accident had been a bad one and it appeared that some leg bones that had set badly were going to have to be re-broken.

Manley felt a need to be there when that happened. She had attempted to get the operation scheduled so that she could finish her time in the Klondike and her husband could join her here for a week or so, but it proved to be impossible to arrange.

On the day before she had to leave, in early August, she was feeling glum about going early, apprehensive about the trip, and disappointed that she was having to leave just when the work on the third volume of her Manley family history was beginning to come into focus.

Aside from that, she was feeling ill and was most concerned that she wasn't being a very good interview subject.

The book was annoying her because she had always thought it would be the one she would be most successful with. Her grandmother, Edna Manley - Mardi to Rachel most of the time - had been a sculptress. Rachel had edited her journals for publication before she ever found her way to writing prose of her own.

"I would have thought it would have been the book for me most likely to succeed, but I'm actually finding it the most difficult. But then, somebody told me the other day that, each one I write I say it's the most difficult."

She was at that painful stage with the work where it felt that it was becoming more difficult and she was worried about having reached the end of her mental resources.

That seemed to happen with her initial foray into writing, a three book career as a poet which she now dismisses.

"Poetry doesn't sell and my poetry certainly didn't sell," she said.

"I don't think it was written to communicate, so that's probably why it didn't. I don't write poetry any more, ever. I don't think I had a teaspoon of talent as a poet."

She is often told that her prose is full of poetic imagery, but she characterizes that as excessive.

Her interest in becoming a poet stemmed from her Mardi, who nicknamed her "Poet". The last thing she expected to do was end up writing non-fiction prose. In the last book of the trilogy she's trying to escape it just a little, going after the essence of her Mardi rather than paying homage to dates and time lines.

She characterized her family, which has produced over half of the political leaders of post-colonial Jamaica, as being somewhat "mad", but insisted that they had a formative influence upon her character.

"My grandfather died when I was 21 and my grandmother when I was 40. They were the rock upon which I built my life." Later, she nursed her father through his final illness.

Her prose career, which has so far netted her wide recognition and a Governor General's Award for Drumblair, the first book, began when she was at a function in England where she and her party found themselves surrounded by pictures of people who had been important to the development of the British Commonwealth as it grew out of the British Empire. Among them was a portrait of her grandfather, Norman, and she was shocked to realize that hardly anyone seemed to know who he was.

Though he was a seminal figure in all of this period of change, his career had been eclipsed by later developments and, perhaps, by the more cometary presence of his son, Michael, Rachel's father, who went on to become Jamaica's prime minister from 1972 to 1980.

"There was a transition for me," she said. "I wrote three books of poetry. Never touched prose. When my grandmother died she left me her journals. I was very grief stricken as I was very close to her. I suppose they were a way to fight through that grief, so I edited them and annotated them. It was a very long process, but I was living in Switzerland and I had very little else to do.

"I developed a work routine of getting up at three in the morning and working on these diaries. I think it helped to bridge that transition period between poetry and prose.

"I think that a lot of young people who have been writing poetry and want to start writing prose don't see that there is a tremendous self-discipline that goes with it. You can't get away with under ten hours of work (daily); it's not something you can do sporadically."

She found her system has been to do the creative work in the morning and the editing in the afternoon. "It's a habit which has stayed with me."

Poets, she said, can always claim they're waiting for the right feeling or inspiration, but for prose writers "it's more like going to the office."

One thing hasn't changed since her first poem was published when she was 11 years old. She's always loved writing, even though it can be a difficult task sometimes.

Drumblair, for instance, took two years to write and a year to edit. Slipstream, the story of her father, Michael, took about the same time, "and the first year was just this agonizing time. I couldn't find the form for it at all (a-tawll)."

In Dawson, it was a very difficult to keep to her schedule in the perpetual daylight of July. "I don't seem to sleep at all at night, and I'm tired all day."

The writing here has not seemed to go well. Some of the material that she brought with her to "brush up and comb" has proved resistant. The section of the book she worked on was heavily based in Cornwall, and she believed she would actually have to go there before it came into focus.

Manley likens the process of writing to setting a train in motion. If you haven't quite got yourself on the tracks then there is a lot of resistance.

She said, however, that nothing is ever wasted in her experience. The material that came hard, that just wouldn't link to the rest of the train, eventually does. Switching metaphors, she spoke of a moment in the creation of a book when "the coin drops in my head, then I can link all the bits together."

Some of those bits will, perhaps, have a bit of Klondike colour in them.

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Love Triumphs Over All at the Follies

by Dan Davidson


Audience participation this year required the guests to bug the performers. Photo by Dan Davidson

For his fourth season of writing the Gaslight Follies for the Palace Grand Theatre Joey Hollingsworth faced the difficult task of representing a show he had done in his first year. Then, however, the Follies ran for over two hours, and the new show had to be cut back to about an hour and ten minutes.

The change began last year when the Klondike Visitors Association's entertainment committee decided that the show needed to be tighter and shorter, with an option to do two shows some nights if the traffic warranted. This was prompted by the fact that some of the tour companies had changed their schedules and were no longer arriving in time to make it to the Follies.

Tightening up the original production meant jettisoning the melodrama portion of the show while still retaining a bit of a story line to tie the song and dance numbers together.

The story line, as it turns out, is the romance, which begins right after Arizona Charlie Meadows welcomes us to his establishment, asking us to buy into the notion that we are watching a show on his stage at the turn of the century.

In short order we are introduced to Jimmy "Three inch" White (Shane Snow) and Dan the Mountie Man (Andrew Newton), whose first confrontation on stage is over Jimmy's attempt to chop wood on Sunday at Sweet Tooth Fanny's (Catherine Van Alstine) B & B (that's Bar and Brothel to you).

Enter journalist Lovett Dolittle (Nena Lazo) and "schoolteacher" Rosemary Raspberry (Amanda Rushton), both of whom have a crush on Dan Toolate. Which one will get him is the main plot of the evening. It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that the other one will end up with Jimmy.

The secondary plot has to do with Jimmy Three Inch's gold claim, which also involves the temporary incapacitation of the Mountie and the attempt by Montana Pete (Joey Hollingsworth) to swindle Jimmy out of his mine at a card game.

All of this is spiced up by musical solos, a bit of tap dancing (partly to cover for costume changes) and the odd prank or two. In the past it was the custom to shanghai various members of the audience and subject them to a protracted bit of torment in front of their fellow bus riders. There's still a bit of that going on, but it was the part of the show that was hardest to estimate a fixed time for, so it has been changed quite a bit to shoehorn it in. Don't worry; it still involves silly costumes and it's still embarrassing.

From there to the crooked card game, the romantic climaxes and the spirited finale, it's only a short distance in stage time. This seems to suit the audience fine and they offer up a noisy applause.

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Dollars for Dredge Restoration

by Dan Davidson

Klondike National Historic Sites has received confirmation that it has $540 thousand in funding to continue restoration work on Dredge #4, one of its major attractions along the Bonanza Road.

"What we're trying to do with that," said KNHS superintendent Gary McMillan, "is get the gantry back up."

The gantry is the support superstructure that used to be above the bucket line at the front end of the dredge. While it was still attached to the main hull when the mammoth building was raised from its mucky bed in 1992, it began to weaken from rot and deterioration within a few years and had to be removed for safety's sake.

It's almost hard to believe that a few year's exposure to the elements could do what 32 years of being buried in the frozen muck of its own settling pond did not do, but this was the case.

Partially buried in 1960, old #4 was the largest single corpse of the corporate mining era. It's hard to imagine a moving building the size of a football field, eight stories high and capable of displacing 2,722 tonnes of water, burrowing 17 metres below the water line to bring up the 600 tons of gravel that it processed every day during its 200 day operating season.

From stem to stern, from bucket line to stacker (which is what created those worm-like tailings piles in the valley), it was buried between six and seven metres for those three decades, frozen in a protective armor of Klondike gumbo.

By the 1980s, however, it had become clear that movements in the permafrost were beginning to twist the hull and were threatening to tear it apart.

It took $1.2 million and the skills of 1 Construction Engineering Unit, the Winnipeg based design and building arm of the Canadian Forces, to excavate #4, float it, and set it down on a secure pad.

Parks Canada is now taking advantage of something McMillan calls a "rust out" program, intended to look after structures that are slowly falling apart.

This project, and a smaller one in Haines Junction, will be funded over the next two years. McMillan intends to have the familiar profile of #4 back to normal by the end of next summer.

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Mr. and Mrs. Miner 2001


Jim and Dagmar Christie are Mr. and Mrs. Miner for 2001. Photo submitted

This years Mr. And Mrs. Miner, Jim and Dagmar Christie, were announced at the Favron's Thunderfest on July 27, 2001.

Jim has a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of British Columbia. Dagmar also graduated from UBC and is a Pharmacist. Prior to their adventure in the Yukon, they were involved in geology and mining, primarily hard rock exploration, in British Columbia, Nevada, Alaska, and California.

They started placer mining in 1984 on Scroggie and Mariposa Creeks where they had 4 partners and mined until 1992.

When Scroggie Creek began to run out of reserves, they began an exploration program to find new locations to mine for themselves. They enjoyed placer mining and thought that establishing a small family operation would be a good lifestyle that would keep their family together and that the family could all participate in.

They had a small mining program on Blackhills Creek and then another exploration program on Twelvemile Creek. Finally, they established a family mining operation on lower Dominion Creek in 1994 with their son Seamus, and his wife Kara, and their daughter Tara. Sheamus and Tara both went to school to get an education that would also help them in mining. Sheamus became a Heavy Duty mechanic and Tara got her Masters Degree in Geological Engineering. Jim and Dagmar are proud to have a third generation growing up in placer mining, and enjoy teaching Sheamus and Kara's children Jamie and Brea how to "pan for gold".

Dr. Jim Christie served on the board of directors of the KPMA from 1992 to 1996 as the Secretary/Treasurer. He continued working for the KPMA on various YPC issues until 1998.

Jim put in countless hours of hard work behind the scenes, editing and commenting on legislation, attending never-ending meetings and working with other Yukon stakeholders on behalf of all Placer miners.

Jim and Dagmar have both helped at many mining community events including: the Miners' BBQs in Dawson, fundraising for the Children's hospital at the "Panning for Miracles," and selling KPMA t-shirts the gold show and other fundraising events.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Miner for 2001, Dr. Jim and Dagmar Christie.

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Travis Takes Tub Race on Fourth Try

by Dan Davidson


Racing bathtubs are a little different from the domestic variety as this interested tourist can see. Photo by Dan Davidson

It was fourth time lucky for Travis Adams this year as the Whitehorse based bathtub racer pulled into the bank of the Yukon River well ahead of the next set of contestants in the NMI Mobility Yukon River Bathtub Race. Asked to speculate on what happened to everyone else he could only speculate.

"I don't know. I think ... sandbars. We never hit any, so that was the difference, I think. We didn't hit any today or yesterday. We finished with the same prop we started with. It was a good run this year."

It took him 13 hours and 51 minutes, spread over the two days, which was two minutes faster than last year's winner, his brother Jason, who had used the same craft the year before.

Adams recalled having a good run the first time he tried the race, but he was held back by a slow boat.

"It was really slow - 19 miles an hour. And it took me 19 1/2 hours to get here. The second year and the third year I had a lot of trouble in Lake Laberge, swimming, pulling my boat behind me.

"This year went flawless."

For the winner getting through Lake Laberge "unscathed" was the high point of the race.

"It's just a big lake. Any winds and it blows rough pretty easy with pretty big swells. Your boat and motor are out of the water quite a bit. It was smoother than last year, but it was still rough, still a lot of hanging on."

Motorized bathtubs tend to be top heavy anyway and at their most stable when they are moving steadily forward. For Travis Adams the trip means cramming his substantial height into a pretty small space for six or seven hours at a time and keeping his balance all the way. Fortunately, once past the lake he didn't find it difficult this year.

Racers tend to lose a lot of propellers on this trip, but Adams didn't have that problem this year.

"At one point just before Carmacks, my prop just touched bottom. We just heard it ding a couple of rocks, but I swerved over and that was it."

Adams won the B class of the race the second year he ran it, and he says he also had a flawless - but slow - race his first year. The difference this time was speed.

"With the river you're doing anywhere from 30 to 33 miles an hour." These are speeds he just couldn't make four years ago.

"It seems fairly slow when you're in one of these bathtubs for eight hours. It's pretty small in there."

Race organizer Lance Koschzeck indicated that this was a good year for the race, with 11 entries setting out and 10 finishing. The last one had to be hauled off a sand bank later in the day, as they had run out of propellers (five in all) but no one was hurt.

"Volunteer crews were very strong, Set up and take down was very easy. There were no major mishaps with the tubs."

Water was high for most of the trip, until they got near to Dawson, but lots of people managed to hit sandbars anyway.

"We got two teams out of Fort Nelson this year and one out of Chilliwack," he said, which shows the fame of the race is spreading.

The evening wrapped up for the tubbers with a banquet at the Downtown Hotel, with the Kapital Kickers and Snowshoe Shufflers for entertainment.

"Actually, the Kapital Kickers ... also did all our cooking for us this year. That was good. When they passed the hat, as they do during their dances, they donated that towards the prize bowl. That was a nice touch, too.

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