|The White Pass and Yukon Route revived its service to Carmacks for one day to celebrate the Ton of Gold event. Photo by John Gould|
by Dan Davidson
It was just over a year ago that British Columbia premier Glen Clark was singing the praises of Dawson City at the Western Premiers' Conference. He may be less enthusiastic later this week when he receives Mayor Glen Everitt's bill for the estimated $100,000 that Dawson council feels Clark's recent tough stand on the B.C. fisheries issue has cost the Klondike this summer.
In letter addressed to Clark on July 28, Everitt argues against Clark's support of B.C. fishers in their battle with their American counterparts.
"How a Premier can sit back and support an action that has cost businesses in British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon hundreds of thousands is beyond me. Are you that naive to believe that there will be no negative impact on any other industry as a result of your position?"
That Dawson is not having the boom summer that was anticipated is pretty common knowledge at this point in the summer. Everitt is tying part of the drop in numbers to the animosity which has been simmering all summer on the west coast.
"While recently in Seattle, Washington, I was asked by a group of travellers going to the Yukon and Alaska how they could bypass British Columbia. I had no trouble giving them directions. I tried to convince them that a fishing dispute should not hurt the small business people of B.C.. The resounding response was the the comments of the Premier meant that all B.C. was now involved."
Should Clark pay the invoice Everitt has enclosed, "the dollars will be divided equitably amongst the business community in the Klondike."
Everitt also feels that the dispute is likely to have long term repercussions.
"You and you alone," he tells Clark, "have created an anger that will hurt and haunt the B.C. and Yukon economy for years to come."
by Dan Davidson
The B.C./U.S. Salmon Wars continued their metamorphosis into the B.C./Yukon tourism Wars on July 31 as more and more Dawsonites responded to the initial salvos from Mayor Glen Everitt and Premier Glen Clark.
Both the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins (Yukon Party) issued calls to Clark yesterday afternoon to take Everitt's invoice seriously and rethink his confrontational salmon strategy.
On Monday Everitt sent the Premier a bill for $100,000, indicating that this was the estimated loss that would be suffered by Dawson businesses as a result of events in Prince Rupert. While no written response from Clark has been seen yet the matter was raised on a Vancouver radio show two days later and subsequently rebroadcast in the Yukon.
Clark felt that Everitt was playing to the public gallery and had greatly exaggerated the impact of any American reaction. He said he intended to ignore the invoice.
Jenkins' letter to Clark takes direct aim at his comments in that interview, saying that they "clearly demonstrate your total lack of comprehension of the value that the visitor industry makes to the Yukon and the devastating effect the blockade has dealt Yukon and in particular, my constituency."
Jenkins, who also owns and operated the Eldorado Hotel in Dawson, is well placed to judge the effects for himself.
Jenkins further expresses concern that Clark's fellow NDP government leader, Piers McDonald "has remained strangely silent on this issue and that our minister of Tourism refuses to speak out to protect the interests of Yukoners."
Jenkins calls the tourism industry the "number one private sector employer within the Yukon" and says it will continue "to be the major economic cornerstone...now with the recent downturn in mining activity."
"Yukon," Jenkins concludes, "can ill afford the Glen Clark school of 'tourism economics'...Damaging Yukon's visitor industry won't add one more fish to a Canadian fisherman's net."
In a separate letter to Government Leader Piers McDonald and a related press release, Jenkins called for the replacement of Tourism Minister Dave Keenan.
The Chamber of Commerce letter was much shorter. In three lines it expresses "whole hearted support of Mayor Glen Everitt's letter of July 28, 1997. Tourism members of the Chamber in Dawson have already been adversely affected by the ferry cancellations."
by John Gould
After the start of the ton of gold trip startup events in Dawson, the next events were held in Whitehorse at the Rotary Park.
On July 10th at about 4 PM the Ton of Gold was loaded on to a boat down river from Rotary Park, along with a few members of the original Eldorado and Bonanza miners of 1896-97. Bill Berry, the grandson of Fred Berry and grand nephew of Clarence Berry, of No.6 Eldorado and Walter Lind the son of John Lind of No. 26 above Discovery Bonanza. Madeleine and John Gould, Elizabeth Connellan and Wendy Burns were also on board. It didn't take long too travel up stream to the dock at Rotary Park where we were greeted by a large crowd and media people.
The ton of gold was unloaded and moved to a tent in the park where it was on display for the afternoon. There were a large number of Whitehorse residents in the crowd who were descendants of the stampeders of 1898. Every one sat down to a great banquet and that evening there was a ball.
On July 11th there was more activity at Rotary Park in the late afternoon with the ton of gold on display; then it rained and ruined the rest of the day.
On July 12th several buses left Whitehorse for Carcross where the people of Carcross put on entertainment for everyone. Then at 12 noon the White Pass Train arrived, the first time it had been in Carcross for 15 years. All those who came to Carcross on the buses boarded the train and went to Skagway, arriving there about 5 PM. It was a very pleasant trip. This will be the last trip on that part of the rail road line until possibly July 2002 when the company plans on being back in Whitehorse for the centennial of the W.P. & Y.R. on July 29th. This trip was donated by the White Pass for the Ton of Gold event.
All those who were going down the coast on the steamer Spirit of '98 were on board by 3:30 PM. The first port of call was Haines where we spent about 3 hours touring the town and being entertained by the Chillkat Dancers. On the way down the coast the boat stopped at Sitka where we had a day to look around, and then the next stop was Ketchikan, which was the last until we arrived at Shilshole, Washington, where a number of Seattle people, descendants of '98'ers, as well as the Commissioner of the Yukon, Judy Gingell, and her husband; Kathy Watson, Mayor of Whitehorse and her husband; Glen Everitt, Mayor of Dawson; Shirley Pennell; and Barbara Forsythe. The ship arrived in Seattle, docking at Pier 57 where a very large crowd awaited to greet us.
The Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band was playing, the media were there in full force, both papers and TV crews. Doris Bill, of CBC Whitehorse, was there with a CBC cameraman from Vancouver. All those on the boat who were in costume were asked to line up on the upper deck so that photos could be taken as the ship docked. Once everyone was off the boat we were surrounded by the media.
On the way down the coast there was entertainment every evening in the lounge. The KVA's promotional video was shown and we talked about and answered questions about Dawson and the Klondike. The next night the video "The Spell of the Yukon" by the National Film Board was shown. During the running of the film some one spotted a bear swimming alongside the ship. That stopped the video until the bear got on shore and disappeared, then we watched the rest of the video.
Bill Berry spoke about Clarence Berry and John Gould spoke about the Gold Rush and modern mining in the Klondike. The next evening Robert Service's poetry was read by Janet Mowry, the onboard interpreter for the ship. She was good. Jeff Brady also read Service's "Bessie's Boil".
Bruce Hamilton, of the company that publishes the adventures of Scrooge McDuck, talked about how Scrooge had made his fortune in the Klondike; Bruce also displayed several of the Scrooge McDuck items.
The last afternoon on the boat was spent panning for gold on the top deck in the bright sunshine. There were four 20 litre buckets of salted gravel from the Eldorado mine in Fairbanks on board. John Gould gave a demonstration of panning and then helped others. The panning went on until all the gravel had been panned; people were late for supper they had to finish, it was a very good afternoon.
Most of the passengers on the boat had got on board at Juneau, and they had no idea that this was a special trip in commemoration of the July 1897 ton of gold arriving in Seattle.
The Seattle papers were full of articles on this event, and with historic photos of the first ton of gold. I hope we were able to make the people down there realize that the Klondike is in Canada's Yukon, not Alaska. There is a plaque on that area of the Water Front where the Steamer Portland docked in 1897, and it says "It was here that the Steamer Portland Docked on July 17,1897 with 68 rich miners from the Klondike Gold Fields in Alaska". We will have to see about changing that.
by Dan Davidson
Members of the Dawson delegation on the Ton of Gold trip to Seattle are reporting that the trip was worth it in all the ways that organizers had hoped it would be.
"A lot of truth was spoken," Mayor Glen Everitt told a recent council meeting. The Dawson group left no doubt in the minds of anyone they met that the Klondike Gold Rush was a Yukon event, not one set in Alaska.
Coverage by the news media made temporary stars of our delegates, who were instantly recognizable in their Klondike costumes.
Everitt himself was kidnapped by "pirates" and ferried about the waterfront area, "forced" to play poker with the mayor's gold encrusted chain of office as a stake, and made to lecture about the Yukon through a karaoke machine.
"It was great. They were picking me up and packing me around. These were very big men, too."
He believes his presence and that of others on the trip will draw quite a few intrigued watchers to come to the Klondike next year. The Seattle papers were full of Klondike news and some of the speeches were run in their entirety on television.
While not all of the municipal politicians in the Seattle got into the act -- the mayor was notable for his absence -- enough did to make the event noticed.
"They gave us the Kingdome," said Everitt, "because of the all the duty that wasn't paid when stuff was crossing the border (during the stampede)."
Of course, that aging sports palace is no prize. There's a $125 million mortgage on the stadium and a tender for $185 million has just been let to demolish the place.
Everitt joked that Dawson would have taken the "gift" and then used it as a winter works project for all the contractors in Dawson to take it apart.
"Then we could have barged the material to Dawson and had enough to build our new recreation centre and a bridge across the Yukon River."
For Everitt the most difficult part of the trip was getting back to his hotel on the day when the backside ripped out of his tux pants when he bent over to pick up a coin on the ground while buying a paper in downtown Seattle. Checking to see how bad a rip it was, he forgot that he was in front of a restaurant window. Fortunately the suit had tails, which preserved what was left of his modesty until he got back to his room and sewed it up so he could continue his public appearances during the rest of the tour.
by Dan Davidson
Dawson RCMP have reported that the body of Fred Chudy, who went missing in a boating accident on June 24, was recovered in Eagle, Alaska, on July 25.
Sgt. John Taylor expressed surprise that Chudy, who had been knocked from his boat on the Klondike River by an overhanging branch (often called a "sweeper") should have floated so far.
The RCMP and other searchers combed the Klondike River intensively for a week after the accident, wading chest deep in the water to look for the submerged body. The search continued by water and by air for a week, and watchers were stationed at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in hopes of spotting him there.
Two weeks ago Taylor expressed the conviction that Chudy's body would turn up somewhere in the Yukon River, weighed down by silted boots and clothing and tumbled downstream by the strong currents.
Chudy's death has been labelled an accidental drowning with no suspicions of foul play or alcohol being involved.
by Heather Caverhill
Another Music Fest has passed, marking Dawson's 19th year of festing. The sold out concerts played host to musicians, dancers and comedians from all over Canada and even the world. This year's show varied from doing the jig with Natalie McMaster, and moshing with The Smalls to doing the Flamenco with Rosaria. Music fest organizers and volunteers who made the show happen this year received huge praise from performers for the organization of the festival.
John Flemming, one of the 'Scared Weird Little Guys' comedy duo from Australia and festival M.C, couldn't say enough good things about Dawson's Music Fest. "I think a lot of local people think that oh well it's just Dawson and we have this music festival and people come and it seems to be good; but in fact, for the size of town that it is it has got to be one of biggest festivals that any town of this size would ever have. The level of talent that is here is mind boggling."
Flemming was also delighted with the town itself and the attitude of the people that he met here. "Everyone is so hospitable here, and it is kind of no surprise that you can come to this kind of place to find there is a different style of life than most places. It's very charming. People are so nice to us and the scenery is so beautiful and the people who come to this festival, the punters, they are really up for a good time." The comic group is on it's way to Edinburgh Scotland to perform in the Fringe Festival in August.
Members of Gypsy Soul agreed that the hospitality and organizers treated the performers very well.
Rosaria, who put a little flamenco into the hips of a large crowd of festers said that she only one problem with the Fest: "The only negative is that from here on in when we go home we will have to do our own cooking, we have been really spoiled." Rosario has a flamenco school in Vancouver where she teaches during the winter. "I have been in many Festivals but this is the best. It is a Historically fascinating place. The people here really appreciate music; we had an unbelievable welcome. The organizers were great, as were the billets and the people of the city."
She was even impressed with the first time flamenco dancers that attended her workshops. "We had a very good crowd. Most of the people had a good ear and followed instruction, they did very well. We loved it.
Weird Little John Flemming said that his only negative feeling was that he may not be able to return next year. "Organizers have a policy of not having the same act two years in a row," Flemming said "but I think the people of Dawson should band together and lobby to get us back next year. Say you won't come back to the festival unless we're in."
As all the excitement dies down from the last Music Fest, remember that next year is the 20th anniversary of Dawson's Music Fest. That will be something to look forward to.
by Dan Davidson
Since April Dawson residents requiring the services of a dentist have had to make the long trip to Whitehorse, adding perhaps $500 to the coast of the appointment once travel costs, hotel rooms and food have been factored in.
That's about to come to an end, according to Mayor Glen Everitt.
Dr. Helmut Schoener packed it in last April, after 18 years of service to the community and over ten years of battling with the federal health bureaucracy over the office space he was using in the rear of the Father Judge Nursing Station.
Schoener's was not a full time practice. His office was generally open three days a week. Several years ago the territorial government installed a dental therapist in the Robert Service School and siphoned off some of the work he used to get by handling that contract.
Last year the various departments he was dealing with made the decision to relocate his office to the Territorial Building on Front Street, and the dickering began over the length and conditions of the lease. That seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Schoener pulled the plug.
Since that time the city council has been pressuring the YTG to do something about it. The added expense and inconvenience -- not to mention adequate delivery of dental services in Dawson -- meant just one thing. As Mayor Everitt related his talk with Health Minister Dave Sloan last week, he summed it up with these words.
"We had to get a dentist up in Dawson."
Much to his delight, a meeting with Sloan and his officials produced the information that the government has been at work on the problem, and expect to have a new dentist residing in the community by the fall.
Everitt informed council that YTG will be advertising for a local dentist to move here, that they will provide new equipment and office space.
"It's felt," Everitt said, "that the offer will be attractive to a young dentist trying to get started."
The new dentist will be charged a minimal fee of $120 per month for office space and equipment and council needs to decide if it will get involved in helping to cover that as an incentive.
The government has expressed its intention to provide housing for the dentist through the staff housing options Yukon Housing Corporation. The city already provides housing for the two doctors that live here and was not prepared to take on another such expense.
Everitt indicated that the dental therapist's job at the school might be restructured to direct more of the actual filling to a resident dentist. The mayor said this was a point which former dentist Helmut Schoener had been pushing unsuccessfully for a number of years, but the government now seems to be willing to look at it.
Part of the plan also involves making Dawson something of a regional dental centre, with patients from Mayo, Pelly Crossing and Old Crow being directed here to capture the whole northern area.
"This should create a viable dentist operation here in Dawson," Everitt said.
The paperwork confirming all of this should be arriving soon at city offices.
While the plan is to have this new dentist in place by September, there was also some discussion of offering services a little sooner than that by making use of the existing dental therapist's office which is located in the school. If that is to be part of the plan, things will have to move fairly quickly, since school starts here again on August 19.
by Dan Davidson
These days Dawson City has access to several radio stations and a pretty good range of television stations as well. But in the late 1940's, when Bill Bushell had just arrived here, this was not the case.
"This was a dead town for radio," said Bushell when he visited here recently. The 79 year old former Signalman and his son arrived in mid-July to fulfill a 47 year of ambition to revisit their old home. "Nobody could get anything here by radio."
Now, in the later 1940s, radio was still the king of broadcast entertainment, and its public face was all that we now think of in terms of television: news shows, dramas, musical variety, situation comedies, networks marketing their programs all over North America. None of that was available in Dawson City just after the Second World War.
Bushell and his cronies at the signal corps offices on Front Street changed all that, but not without getting into a spot of trouble along the way.
A Bushell recalls it one of his mates, Chuck Grey, had a room on the second floor of the Pearl Harbour Hotel. Grey had obtained one of the new 45 rpm record players and a one watt transmitter.
"We hooked up the record player to the transmitter, dropped a wire from his bedroom window onto one of the avenues and we put it on the air."
They knew it worked because they were able to pick up the new broadcast at the signal office. The range was small; it would reach all of Dawson proper but not as far as the nearby community of Bear Creek.
"We just said, 'This is Dawson City Radio.' We didn't give ourselves a call sign then. 'We are operating on a frequency of about 1450 on your dial. We hope you enjoy the music.'" Then they sat back and waited for people to take notice. They didn't have long to wait.
"Gee whiz, the switchboard lit up and it wasn't long before we were getting all kinds of calls for Dawson Radio at our signal station, which wasn't where Chuck was."
Grey's hotel room soon became a Mecca for youngsters who wanted to see how the trick was done. There was Chuck, sitting on his bed, the record player on his night table, a small transmitter beside it and a wire running out his window. Humble beginnings indeed for the little station that was to be the forerunner of the CBC Yukon as well as the local CFYT-fm and every other station in the territory.
Bushell recalls that sales of radios in the town skyrocketed, even though the broadcasts were irregular and hadn't a lot of variety early on. But doom nearly struck the experiment before it could get any further.
"Some silly nut went and snitched on us to the department in Ottawa and we got a very nasty letter from our bosses to cease and desist -- take this clandestine machine off the air and throw it in the Yukon."
So that was what they had to do.
"We announced on the air that we were taking it off the air because we'd been ordered to by the federal government. So we said 'Good-bye Dawson' and we went off the air."
Citizens' action began immediately to restore the makeshift entertainment. Pressure was put on the federal government by local politicians and the Chamber of Mines and the edict was withdrawn.
Not only that but Ottawa shipped out a 100 Watt transmitter to install up by the cemeteries where the Signal Corps transmitter was located. A technician was sent to check out the installation and run remote lines to an unused room in the signals building.
"Soon we were on air properly and legal and they wanted to know what call sign we wanted. So we sat down, talked it over and came up with CFYT." Which meant Canadian Forces Yukon Territory.
The name continued until the station folded in the 1960s and was picked up again by a new generation when the Dawson City Community Radio Society was formed in 1982.
The bulk of the airplay in those days came from stacks of American Armed Forces Radio programming on sixteen inch transcription disks that ran about a half hour each. It was a simple matter to slip back and change a record from time to time, though they did have to be careful.
"Our Warrant Officer became a little annoyed with us as it seemed we were spending more time on the entertainment than on our business."
The young CFYT also inaugurated a tradition of live broadcasts which its descendent, DCTV, carries on to this day. Today the live fare is council meetings, debates and public meetings. Then, they alternated church services from Saint Paul's and Saint Mary's and played disk jockey at dances which were held at the community hall (which later became Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino).
CFYT and the joy of early being a radio pioneer was one of the memories that Bushell left behind when he moved in 1950. He was pleased to see that his call sign and the tradition of volunteer broadcasting still lingers on in Dawson.
by Heather Caverhill
The Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, North West Territory has come and gone for the ninth year. The 10-day event came to a close July 27 th. Over 60 artists gathered north of the Arctic circle to display their work and experience the mid-night sun, which is still shining in Inuvik. Paintings, drawings, carvings of wood, bone and soapstone, jewelry, photography, clothing, basket making and weaving were some of the styles of art on display and for sale at the festival. Daily workshops and entertainment provided visitors to Inuvik with activities to participate in or spectate.
The Art Festival, started by photographer, Charlene Alexander and artist, Sue Rose has been growing and size and content since it's birth in 1988. "I think it is the premier cultural event of the summer in the North West Territory" said Knute Hansen who works at the North West Territory / Dempster Highway Visitor Info Centre on Front Street. The festival has brought people from all over Canada and the world to visit Inuvik. Artists, performers and spectators swarmed the town this year to view art and to participate in the games, activities and concerts. Festival organizers are already preparing for the 10th anniversary of the festival in 1998. "That will be the Big one," Hansen said.
One popular event was the blanket toss. Australian Native and Dawson summer resident, Wendy Gore said that the Blanket toss was one of the highlights of the festival. Members of the crowd were invited to grab hold of a walrus skin and help toss people into the air. The 'Tossee' stood on the blanket while the tossers gently lifted and lowered the skin to work up a rhythm before sending the tossee soaring into the air. Some of the more experienced tossees were able to do a somersault in the air and land on their feet. Sounds Like Fun eh?
Gore was also impressed with the drummers. African, Inuvalit, Inuit, Celtic and Dene drummers came together for one night to perform, mix and compare styles. "It was good to see all the different people come together to experience a part of the northern culture." Gore said. Inuvalit Drummers (from the Inuvic/Arctic region) performed with about ten dancers, in traditional clothing. "I guess the best part of that, was that there were people from ten years old to people in their seventies and eighties involved." Gore remarked. The Celtic drummer, also the M.C of the event played some ballads and ship songs. "It was remarkably different from the Northern Style. "Gore noted. Four Dene' drummers from Fort Good Hope played traditional rhythms and explained their representation to the crowd The Dene' program ended with a Circle Dance. African drummers were represented by the Uganda -- Canadian Youth Group from Winnipeg. Gore said that the dances were colorful and entertaining. A drumming workshop was held the following day. The performers talked about their drumming styles and origins, inviting the crowd to participate.
As a visitor to the town, Gore felt that the Inuvuk Delta Dinner Theater offered a lively and comprehensive history of the town with their performance of "East Three. "The food was epic." She said. Caribou, Muskrat and Arctic Char were some of the local delicacies provided. Acting, dialogue and a slide presentation were used to demonstrate the three cultures living in the area.
In the latter days of the festival Northern Musicians put on a concert in Jim Koe Park in front of the school. Music ranged from the comedy duo 'Susie and Sarah' from Champagne YT, to local singer / song writer Anne Kasook to 'Delta Flood', a grunge rock band from Inuvik. Anne Kasook, who's music is based on life in the western Arctic was a highlight for Gore, particularly her latest song 'Isn't it a beautiful sweet summer day'. "It was exactly that; a perfect summer evening in the land of the midnight sun." Gore remembered.
"Inuvik was an immensity of space. You could sit out and look across the delta and the sky stretches forever," Gore encourages people to support the smaller festivals of the north because they are an outlet for the unique character of the region. "You would never see something like that in a larger festival."
by Dan Davidson
The Dawson waterfront area is changing again, as a number of projects have begun their march to completion this summer. The most ambitious of them by far is the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Cultural Centre, for which the first pilings were driven on June 21 and the structural framework begun during July.
As Debbie Nagano, Cultural Coordinator for the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, explains it, the centre was born of a proposal that went to the first nation's general assembly in January of 1994, at the time when community organizations were getting in line to access the pool of money made available by the territorial government's Centennial Projects funding.
Their proposal was intended to "Preserve and promote cultural awareness, and exchange social differences, while developing a proud legacy for our future generations".
Nagano explains that the centre will serve two basic goals: "The presentation of the Han people, their lives, culture and history over the last 120 years -- and their dreams for the future -- to a general audience, particularly the travelling public.
"It will also communicate the culture and history f the Han people to their own community and provide a focus for many of the cultural activities in the community."
The centre is to be located next to the NWT Visitors' Centre on Front Street, which necessitated the relocation of the Front Street Gazebo and the travelling vendors parking area.
The complex will run from Front Street up onto the dyke itself and diversion of the present walking path along the dyke will be made to preserve that popular feature of the waterfront. The building will be distinct as compared with over downtown structures in that it will owe more to the traditions of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in than to the Gold Rush motif which dominates the rest of Dawson. Both city council and the planning board were enthusiastic about making this exception to the usual constraints imposed by the Historic Control Bylaw.
Quite a bit of the complex will be outdoors and seasonal. These will include an outdoor theatre, a river view deck, a fire pit and an area for artisans.
Structures have been planned to evoke a sense of Han building practices in the past and will suggest such elements as fish drying racks, and winter houses. The architect's report from Florian Maurer indicates that structures will be low slung to blend in with the land, "provide(ing) a dramatic addition to the waterfront yet not visually detract(ing) from the waterfront..."
An entry area will provide general visitor information and orientation and lead to a multi-use gathering space as well as a first nation crafts gift shop. Off to the north will be a large circular exhibit space with artifact based displays as well as graphic and media based exhibits.
As the centre will run year round, there will be office space for a permanent coordinator and for summer staff.
Nagano says the indoor theatre will be used for storytelling, plays and musical presentations in the summer and should be available for community use during the off-season. She says that school plays and other special entertainment might find a home there.
John Mitchell, the head of Han Construction, says that most of the labour on the 4700 square foot complex will be local and will flow through the first nation's construction arm. Construction began a few weeks late but the design plan is to have the building clad to the weather by October and in service by next summer.
by Heather Caverhill
I can't be the only person who has ever traveled down Front Street and wondered about the Keno steamboat that has been parked on the dyke for the past 37 years. Concealed by tarps and protected by a chain link fence, the Keno renovations are a mystery to most passers by. With hopes of discovering what was happening behind the blue tarps I boarded the Str.Keno, and emerged triumphant.
Built in 1922, the Keno is of the post goldrush generation of Steam boats. The Keno was responsible for transporting tons of silver, lead and zinc ore from the mines in Mayo down the Stewart River. The Keno was also equipped to carry passengers. Because of the shallow draught of the Keno she was sometimes used on the Klondike river when it was too low for other steam boats.
The bottom floor is called the freight deck and not surprisingly it is where the freight was stored. There are four small -- and I mean small -- rooms at the back end of the freight deck which housed deck hands and firemen. Firemen were in charge of feeding wood into the boiler to fuel the steamer. Rose Margeson of Canadian Heritage said that there were 32 wood camps from Dawson to Whitehorse to provide the steam boats with fuel; on average a steamboat would need to stop every thirty miles for more wood.
The second floor is called the Saloon deck. Passengers enjoyed the luxury of a window, two bunks and a face pan in their cabin. The dining room would have been set up in the corridor outside of the cabins. The saloon and kitchen are on opposite ends of the corridor. Passengers ate, drank and slept on this deck; at one time there was even a three sided outhouse.
The third floor or Texas deck is where the master, mates and engineers lived. This deck is also where navigation took place. During the heat of the goldrush in 1899 there were as many as 60 steam boats docked here in Dawson City. Without the steamboats, gold could not have been transported in such a large quantity or as quickly out of Dawson City and the Yukon.
Wayne Loiselle, Galen Loiselle, Rob Fitch, Raffles McDowell, Dave Derry, Troy Suzuki and Tom Harvey make up the present day crew. Shipwright Wayne Loiselle, who specialises in wooden boat building, is the Captain of this crew. Loiselle was considered a good candidate for worked on the renovation of the Tutshi Steam boat in Carcross which, unfortunately, burnt shortly after its completion in 1990.
Loiselle started work on the Str.Keno in 1994 by putting in a sprinkler system. Right now the crew is repairing damaged portions of the boat, replacing weak beams and removing rotted wood to prevent the boat from further decay. The most obvious renovation, although hidden by a blue tarp, is the bow. Reliable sources have hinted that in the next two to three weeks the tarp will come off and Dawson will be amazed by the transformation. In order to replace damaged wood on the bow the crew had to use "steam bending". Steam bending involves a really hot machine (kiln? steamer?) a piece of wood and most of the crew to get the wood to fit the curve of the bow.
"We have completed the hardest part, but we have probably got another 2 to 3 years to get it where we want it," said Pat Habluk who has been involved with the Keno since 1990. The idea of making the Keno into a museum or heritage site had been entertained in the past but right now plans for the Keno go no further than stabilization. Presently, the ship's floor is not strong enough to allow the public to enter the ship. Since the Keno was built-in 1922, building codes have changed. The Keno's floor carrying capacity does not meet the present code, so until the decks are strengthened the public cannot enter. Habluk said that strengthening the deck would involve adding extra beams. "We can't change the decks to allow people on board without changing the character of the boat, that's the dilemma".
Rose Margeson said that one idea may be to build a board walk around the boat so that people can have a look at the ship from the outside.
by Dan Davidson
What should be done with Edmonton's Klondike Days? Dawson Mayor Glenn Everitt thinks the event should die a quick death, but he's willing to help the city of Edmonton come up with something of their own.
Everitt made the offer during a recent interview with the Edmonton Journal. The reporter caught him off guard with a 2 AM call to his hotel room in Whitehorse during his recent trip to Seattle. He related the incident at a recent council meeting here in Dawson.
"How many times does the Yukon have to tell you?" he said. "It's been going on since the sixties.
"Yes, I think they should change the name. Yes, I think they should get their own identity and celebrate what an Edmontonian is.
"The only thing I know about Edmonton is that they like to ride on everybody else's coat tails."
Everitt suggested that some sort of a partnership might be possible between Edmonton and the real Klondike, but he felt that the Gold Rush played a very small, and not very dignified, part in the history of that city.
"I don't know if I'd be bragging about that part of history."
Then the reporter caught him totally off balance by asking him what he thought about this year's master of ceremonies: Mickey Mouse.
"What!" Everitt exploded. "They can't even get history straight? It was Scrooge McDuck.!"
He went on to offer his services in helping Edmonton come up with something original to celebrate.
"Just bring me down there," he told the Journal, "and I'll do it."
Much to his surprise this interview made the front page of the next day's Journal, something he discovered at the airport. The interview and the offer were spread across the front of the paper, he was told by an Edmonton passenger getting off in Whitehorse.
"I agree with everything you said," the man told him, "and so does half of Edmonton."
Later on Everitt met a representative of the Disney corporation which has chosen to tie their Scrooge McDuck character into the Gold Rush Centennials. The fellow was quite astonished to learn that Mickey was leading parades in Edmonton this summer.
by Dan Davidson
The old reed organ in Saint Paul's church does still work, much to many folks' surprise, but it's been awhile since it had such a workout as it got during the weekend of July 26-27. On the Sunday of that weekend kids of all ages gathered around at the back and side of the organ to see the hands of feet of an expert in action and to hear its reeds sing out as they have not sung in a long time.
The organist was Jim Machan, a church music specialist from Milwaukee, who was in Dawson along with Sue, his wife, a public school music teacher, to enliven Dawson's Christian music community with every means they could think of.
The Machans held evening and afternoon sessions at Saint Paul's for several days before the weekend, tuning up a small community choir from several congregations and teaching other people how to ring out the good news on tone chimes.
Machan is a former school music teacher who took early retirement a few years ago to pursue his first love, which is church music. Since then he has worked for a variety of denominations and faiths and brings an eclectic sensibility to the practice of leading choirs and musical groups.
The Sunday evening concert was the culmination of several days worth of hard work. The choir performed three special numbers, including Machan's own setting of "Psalm 150", "A Jubilant Song" and the Hebrew song "Hine Ma Tov", which is based on Psalm 133.
One group worked with the tone chimes, which look a bit like tuning forks with a sounding hammer attached to one side and sound much like hand bells. They played "Holy God, We Praise Your Name", "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee" and "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow".
On the vintage 1901 reed organ, built by Lyons Healy Builders of Chicago, Machan performed "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" (Bach), "Trumpet Tune in D" (Johnson), and "Prelude and Fugue in C Major" (Bach).
The congregation sang a number of hymns with the choir, including the South African standard "We Are Marching in the Light of God" and had the chance to pick out some favourites of their own.
From Dawson the Machans, whose trip was funded by the Anglican Diocese of the Yukon, carried on to Inuvik, where they did a similar workshop, and south again to Whitehorse, where Jim Machan held a recital at Christ Church Cathedral. Then they moved on to Watson Lake before ending their musical tour.
Here's a special note for those who believe that it's a small world after all. Jim Machan was one of the choir trainers who taught Dawson's Father Tim Coonen when he was studying music and performing in choirs in the United States. The two rediscovered each other during a pool party the day after the church concert.
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