Dawson City, Yukon Friday, December 21, 2001

The small black shapes just to the left of the bluff a West Dawson locals working to improve the homemade ice bridge across the Yukon River. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Determined Dawsonites Cross River
Dawson City Hosts National Gathering of Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Dawson Receives Green Fund $ from FCM
Municipalities Are Short Changed Financially, Says FCM President
North Needs a New Economic Development Agreement
Uffish Thoughts: An Unconventional Convention
A First Hand Account of the Youth Art Enrichment
Pierre Berton: Not in the Federal Data Base
Drama Revives at the Oddfellows' Hall
Francine Kay in Concert
Not Quite the Longest Night in Dawson
Seniors Celebrate Christmas
Yukon Order of Pioneers Christmas Dinner: Past and Present

Welcome to the December 21, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 25 photographs and 27 articles which were in the 32-page December 18 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, the locally produced "Camp Life" cartoon, our homegrown crossword puzzle, and obviously, all the other 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 was our last edition for 2001. We generally take the first issue in January off, due to things being a little slow here in terms of both events and advertisers in the middle of winter. This year would have been espcially weird as we would have had three papers in January, beginning on New Year's Day. We are skipping that one and gettng back into production for the January 15th news stand edition. That will mean this site will change again about a week after that.

Determined Dawsonites Cross River

by Dan Davidson

It's no secret that Dawsonites get awfully impatient for the Yukon River to freeze and the ice bridge to set once the George Black ferry comes out of the water. It's been nearly two months now, and the expanse of open river between the old CIBC building down past the ferry landing to the bluff in the direction of Moosehide is a pretty discouraging sight.

From 1995 until recently, it had been possible for the highways department to start work on bridge building in late November, but that hasn't been the case for the last three years. So far this season their efforts have been restricted to taking regular photographs of the open water in order to monitor the slow narrowing of the lead in the front of the town.

They estimate that the ice might be twelve inches thick where it exists. It needs to be fourteen for light trucks and double that for heavier equipment to work safely. Beyond that, the bridge itself needs to be thirty-six inches thick in order to handle the heavy trucks and graders that need to be in place on the west bank by April in order to get the Top of the World Highway open.

But highways doesn't need a big window of opportunity to do their work over there. A few weeks is enough for what is vital.

For folks who live in West Dawson or have recreational property there, the matter is a bit more pressing, and they haven't generally been prepared to wait for the official ice bridge. This year, as last, the informal route is to head north along the Yukon River bank, drive to the point, where it seems the lead must close, and then tack west along the frozen shallows and sandbars until you reach the ferry landing.

Weeks ago, it was being reported that a footpath was following this route. Then it graduated to the use of snow machines. Recently, light trucks have been seen making the crossing. The big disadvantage to it all, according to John Mitchell, who lives in Sunnydale, is that the surface that has frozen is a bit of a mess this year.

That would explain why some initially unidentified soul was out there on the afternoon of December 12, using what looked in the distance like some sort of backhoe or small cat to level the route. It wasn't anyone official, so that pretty much made it a resident who owned such equipment. From the circuitous nature of the route it took across the ice from west to east, the trail this year must be quite a maze.

A call to the home of Joe and Wendy Fellers confirmed that it was Joe, along with a neighbour, who was out there with a farm tractor, making the trail a little easier for everyone else.

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Dawson City Hosts National Gathering of Federation of Canadian Municipalities

by Dan Davidson


Thursday morning's opening session of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was held in the 100-year-old Oddfellows Hall ballroom. Photo by Dan Davidson

The board members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities descended upon Dawson, along with their staff members, some family two of members of the territorial cabinet and representatives from many of the Yukon's communities for early December meeting of the board, a event which takes place all over the country each year but which, as FCM president Jack Layton noted, has never been this far north and west at this time of the year.

Layton, a city councillor in Toronto, got the full Yukon treatment, having been driven to Dawson last night during what he described as a five hour hyperbolic monologue by Dawson's mayor, Glen Everitt.

Even after all those stories, it took being here for the reality to sink it. As he told the opening session of the meeting in the restored Oddfellows' Hall ballroom shortly after 8 a.m. on the morning of December 6.

"I could never have imagined from the descriptions, or what I'd heard, what the place actually looks like. Walking through the streets last night, it's a totally charmed community as far as I can tell."

That left a beaming Glen Everitt to welcome the group to his town for a meeting which he began to sell some four years ago.

This gathering comes at the beginning of what is typically one of the slowest times of Dawson's year and is a boost for tourism which Everitt referred to as the sole surviving industry in the Klondike.

The topics on their agenda covered a wide ground: the various regional committees, national transportation and communications, municipal infrastructure, economic development, community energy planning, municipal-aboriginal relations, climate change, arts, culture and heritage and so on.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is 64 years old now, but it traces its roots back to an earlier organization of civic leaders which first met in 1901, so 2001 is something of a centennial for the group. Thus, a meeting in Dawson, which will celebrating the centennial of its incorporation as a municipality just next month, is quite appropriate.

FCM styles itself as the voice of local government at the national level. Its mission statement reads: "The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. FCM is dedicated to improving the quality of life in all communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal government."

The issues in which it involves itself as a lobby are all connected to local government in that their major impacts are felt at that level: affordable housing, service infrastructure, etc.

This visit to the Yukon is not FCM's first. Some years back it met in Whitehorse.

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Dawson Receives Green Fund $ from FCM

by Dan Davidson


Town manager Scott Coulson and Mayor Glen Everitt receive the Green Fund certificate from FCM president Jack Layton. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson City was the recipient of a Green Fund grant of $12,500 towards the study of the municipal water metre and bleeder program at the opening of the December board meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Universal water metering and regulation of the bleeding of water into the constant flow system is a critical component of the plan to move the town towards construction of a secondary sewage treatment plant over the next two years. Indeed, the study has already been completed and and the results were on view at a community meeting the evening before, but this was still the official presentation by FCM president Jack Layton to Mayor Glen Everitt and town manager Scott Coulson.

Layton noted that the Green Fund, which was started with an infusion of $125 million in funding from the federal government just under a year ago, is a program of which the FCM can be "very proud." So far the contribution of $8.5 million, spread over 115 projects in every size of community has "leveraged more than $42 million in total project funding by municipal governments and their partners."

Layton said, "(The Green Fund) has been supporting municipal government leadership in the whole field of addressing environmental management and climate change mitigation.

"That was one of our goals, to make sure that every type of community in the country would be receiving support from the Green Funds."

He went on to say that fifty percent of Canadians now live in a community that has already received some form of Green Fund support.

In Dawson's case the sewer system which was originally constructed under the aegis of the territorial government was an experimental model which required a constant flow of slightly heated water through the system in order to keep it from freezing. If the water stops flowing in an area for a brief time, even in the above ground heat of summer, pipes in Dawson can freeze quickly. It has been said that the community of 2,000 uses as much water as a place 7 times its size for this reason.

In order to move to a metered water system it was necessary to come up with a design which would allow and discount the continuous flow of water through bleeders at every house and business in the community while also keeping track of the water that each customer actually uses.

The pilot study recently concluded and community wide metering will begin shortly.

"Because of federal legislation that we really felt was unnecessary," Everitt said, "we're building an anywhere from 8 to 12 million dollar sewage treatment plant for 1900 residents - only 1400 of them are on the system. We can't have lagoons up here because of the topography."

Everitt explained that the heat needed to bring the water in the system past the critical point has always come from the waste heat generated by the Yukon Energy diesel plant at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Front Street. With the building of the hydro power extension line from Mayo, the town will lose that heat source.

"Our water has to be heated year round since it comes out of the ground at 32?F (0?C). It's going to be a $250 to $400 thousand bill - they haven't figures it out yet."

So, he concluded, reducing the amount of water that has to be heated to the bare minimum is a vital project.

"Without the money that we got from the Green Fund the study couldn't have been done right away. It would have been delayed and we would have been in court again with the (federal) government."

The town's part of the project was an additional $12,500.

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Municipalities Are Short Changed Financially, Says FCM President

by Dan Davidson

Jack Layton, the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has a message for the communities of the nation: they're being short changed by the senior levels of government when it comes to financing.

"I'm really just trying to underline for our municipal colleagues that our financial situation compared to the federal and provincial governments is untenable. It's not sustainable and it has to change."

Municipal governments have tended, Layton said, to buy into the idea that local government just isn't efficient enough and not doing a good job with its money. That's the reason often promoted for local governments being in financial trouble.

No such thing, says Layton. The truth is that municipal governments have had an increasing share of the financial burden of running society downloaded to them without any commensurate increase in funding.

Nor are they able to benefit from economic growth when it happens.

"We don't have access to the growth taxes," he told the FCM board last weekend, "so our economies are growing, we have to provide more services when they grow, but the growth taxes and the revenue from growth flows to the federal and provincial governments, not to the municipalities."

A Powerpoint slide show emphasizes this material, showing that municipal revenues have increased 7.7% in the last five years, the same time period during which provincial revenues have climbed 26% and federal revenues have shot up 33%.

"We've got to change this scenario. I know that all of you are attempting to do this in your relationships with your provincial governments We're attempting to do it in the relationship with the federal government. Our work this fall has been highly focussed on that effort, in particular around the budget."

FCM approached the federal government last September with a set of proposals which included $1.7 billion for housing, $1.7 for core urban infrastructure, especially water, and $1 billion for transportation initiatives.

"A week later we had September 11 and everything changed."

Layton says that FCM recognized the primacy of security concerns after the 9/11 attacks and directed its support to the security of water sources, especially in light of events in Walkerton and North Battleford and a year of "boil water" orders all across the country.

"We believe that infrastructure finding continues to be a high priority so that we can get our water systems up where they can be safe for all Canadians."

To boost this process FCM asked the feds to take the remaining four years of funding in the federal infrastructure program and allocate it all over two years.

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North Needs a New Economic Development Agreement

by Dan Davidson

Among the resolutions passed at the December meeting of the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities were two that will, if they are eventually accepted by the federal government, have a very direct bearing on the economies of the northern territories.

Both resolutions came to the board from Nunavut, but the arguments behind them have a long history and have been advocated by Yukon M.P. Larry Bagnell since his days as executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities. Mayor Glen Everitt, now in his third term as president of AYC, has been equally active in this lobbying effort.

The first resolution calls for new economic development agreements for the three northern territories, noting that they are the only jurisdictions currently without some form of extra federal economic stimulus.

The rationale notes that "our communities are in desperate need of investments in basic infrastructure, stimulative investment policies, tax breaks and economic development strategies."

Further, it says that "a territory cannot create economic wealth for its people when many communities are almost 100% dependent on government transfer payments."

Finally, it urges the the government to recognize that, while an EDA is only one of the tools needed to create strong economies in the North, and that it must go hand in hand with "strong leadership, innovative economic strategies, projects that attract federal funds and committed partnerships," nevertheless, an EDA "indicates a strong commitment by the federal government to support development."

The second resolution of note related to finding under the Federal Infrastructure Program and the manner in which the money is disbursed to communities. During the first set of funding under this program, money was handed out based on a per capita funding formula which the FCM document says does little for the North: "the three northern jurisdictions received less than 0.004% of total funding under any such program."

The resolution describes in detail the benefits to be gained by programs of this nature, but goes on to advocate a different funding formula with respect to Northern jurisdictions. The FCM proposal would see a change to a "combined fixed and variable (per capita) basis" formula which would guarantee base funding of 1% to each jurisdiction in the country, leaving the remaining 87% to be allocated as per the old formula.

This would be a considerable increase for the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Everitt told the December 10 meeting of Dawson's council that he was really pleased both resolutions had passed without debate at FCM, being placed on what is known as the "consent agenda." This is reserved for motions that are considered "non-controversial" by FCM staff and the executive. It is heartening to think that the rest of Canada believes that economic assistance for the north is a reasonable request that needs no further justification or debate.

He only hopes the federal government will agree.

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Uffish Thoughts: An Unconventional Convention

by Dan Davidson

While members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board of Directors may sometimes have trouble recalling which resolutions were passed in which city over the years, I think it safe to suggest that those passed in Dawson City will always have a certain ambiance.

Where else have the opening sessions taken place in a a hall originally dedicated to a group that wanted nothing more than to do good works (hence the name Odd fellows), which subsequently died and was reborn as a hotbed of cultural innovation and education?

Where else have the board members had to don winter gear and march out into -20 temperatures to seek out the next meeting - or their lunch for that matter?

What city convention centre dining facility had anything to compare to Halin de Repentigny's mural at the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Community Hall as a backdrop to a buffet lunch?

When did the plenary sessions of the various standing committees occur in such a variety of meeting places? Imagine future discussions of these topics at later meetings:

"Oh, we discussed that issue at the cultural centre / the VRC / the YOOP Hall..."

Where else did a gambling hall get turned to better uses as a banquet hall and then a venue for sober deliberations? How easy a symbolism is that, to remind the delegates that public policy is always a bit of a gamble, that not every throw of the dice or roll of fortune's wheel can bring success?

Some things remain the same where ever you go. of course, in line with the old saw that if you go on a trip to get away from your problems, you take them with you.

For certain, there are divisions and suspicions within the membership of FCM. The North would not feel it needed a separate committee if it did not sense that it was being drowned in wheat as part of a "remote" forum.

Rural delegates would not be so quick to insist that the Big City Mayors caucus needs to remember to put "FCM" in front of its title and clear its correspondence with the executive if there was not a natural concern that the megalopolises tend to forget about everyone else. Not that they don't have most of the population and some of the biggest problems, but that's no excuse for perceived arrogance.

Rural folks can get edgy, too. An urban claim that 80% of Canadians now live in cities was countered later in the same debate by the aside that one-third of Canadians still live in the country. Doesn't add up? Well, some people do both. Relatives of mine have a condo in Toronto, a farm on the Bruce Peninsula and a cabin on the upper curve of Lake Superior, all three taxed to a fare-thee-well, so it just might work out.

Dawson's just a little off the beaten path for almost everyone on this trip, except for Derm Flynn, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities, whose brother, Don, has lived here for years. Derm has been here before. Just about all the others are a little out of place, a tad off balance without their cell phones and business suits.

It's probably good for them. Television reality to the contrary, most people don't have cell phones and wear business suits. It's good for the movers and shakers of municipal politics to stop thinking like "vested" interests for a while and mingle with the masses, even if it's just for a few hours at Gerties (once again transformed) or the Pit (probably untransformable).

An unconventional convention is good for shaking things up once in awhile, and this one certainly fit that bill.

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A First Hand Account of the Youth Art Enrichment

by Duncan MacLeod

Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, here to assure you that tis true that strange things are done in the land of the midnight sun.

My story begins in Dawson City with an amazing group of highly motivated people. In Whitehorse, oblivious to all but rumors of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, a series of fortuitous events resulted in my being privileged to attend the first of what I hope to be annual or biannual event in Dawson City.

Nothing could have prepared me for the events to come. By hook or by crook 45 really creative little humans were selected to attend an intensive art workshop hosted by KIAC and staffed by Janet Moore, Ken Anderson, David Curtis, and Paul Henderson. First day nerves? Get over it! Each of the artists demonstrated a deep level of understanding which included both their medium and the possibilities presented by the students. With few exceptions the humans involved grew so engrossed in their work that art mode was achieved quickly and the production began.

It was fascinating to watch the chaperones, the artists and the students bond through common experience with colour, form and discipline. As the chaperones, we were on a rotating schedule so our experience was different from the students who were in the same sessions morning and afternoon for the five days.

The development over the five days was really astonishing. Humans grew comfortable and began to take chances which fed the others stimulation which fueled their creativity. The discussions between people, who might not otherwise talk to each other, about the resolution of some aspect of piece of art were indicative of the trust possible in an emotionally charged highly creative experience such as this. Trust is required in order to take the chance necessary to develop and affect a communication through art. I believe, that with the possible exception of the Rural Experimental Module (REM) which operated in Carmacks some years ago, that I have not seen such effective use of money devoted to education.

I think the one of the strengths of our art community is the people that are genuinely interested in giving of their time to the young people. For those who know me you realize that I did not get his big by being shy around food. Hey talking about food the lades who volunteered to cook and serve deserve a warm and heartfelt thanks for their yeoman's labour is this respect. The food was plenty and of very high quality.

Finally I wish to acknowledge the Downtown Hotel Staff and the local detachment of The RCMP for the patient and professional manner in which we were treated. Thanks humans, one and all, for an emotionally charged experience that will contribute to my art life and I know will make me a more tolerate and observant human.

(Ed Note: We'd like to thank the Highlander for sharing with us out of his more than mortal range of experience. It's too bad Connor couldn't have been here too, but we understand that "there can be only one.")

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Pierre Berton: Not in the Federal Data Base

by Dan Davidson


John Gould and Pierre Berton chat over old times for the crew from the Idea Factory at Nugget Hill, the Gould family mine, in 1998. Photo by Dan Davidson

If the recent tempest in a teapot over Pierre Berton's citizenship is any indication, we can all stop worrying about the federal government being able to cross reference all the computer and paper files that it maintains on us. It appears that several branches of the government were unable to confirm to another one that, yes, Pierre Berton is a Canadian.

Yes, that Pierre Berton, whose national honours include:

That Pierre Berton, whose face is familiar to most Canadians over 25 as a permanent fixture for decades on Front Page Challenge, the host of "The Pierre Berton Show" (kind of a giveaway there)from 1962 to 1973, author and host of numerous programs dealing with Canadian history, such as "My Country," "The Great Debate," "Heritage Theatre," etc.

Oh yes, and the author of, let's see now, 47 books, (including Why We Act Like Canadians and Pierre Berton's Canada) most of them bestsellers. This is the fellow who recently toured the country in support of his latest book, Marching As to War, which inspired Peter Gzowski to devote the November 24 edition of his column in the Globe and Mail to the praise of Pierre.

Gzowski recalled a conversation he had once had with the young Wayne Gretzky about the fickleness of fame and how the media could turn on him some day as it once had on even the likes of Pierre Berton.

Said Gretsky, "Pierre Berton? Is he Canadian?"

Said Gzowski, "Is he ever."

Berton, now 81, was born in Whitehorse, and spent his first dozen years in Dawson City. His family roots in Canada go back a mere seven generations, having arrived here in 1681, as he noted in his mid-1960s essay, "On Racial Origins."

The problem lies with the Canadian Audio Visual Certificate Office (or CAVCO), which has been asked to issue a tax credit to Edmonton's Idea Factory, the independent documentary unit which filmed "Pierre Berton: Canada's Arrogant Icon" back in 1998. They'd like six percent of the eligible labour costs out of the $200,000 it took to make the hour long program, which aired on CBC television's "Life and Times."

To do that, they had to ask Berton, along with everyone else who was paid to be in the film, to fill out a declaration form.

"I didn't know what it was," said Berton in a telephone interview this week. "I saw 'Life and Times' on the envelope and thought they must have re-aired it somewhere and that I was getting a little residual. I looked at it for a moment, said that's not it and threw it in the waste basket."

It was his business partner, Elsa Franklin, who realized what was going on and broke the story to the Toronto Star, from whence it was picked up by the Canadian Press and the CBC.

At the Idea Factory, president and executive producer Drew Martin thinks the situation isn't too serious.

"It is quite funny ... but I think it's just one of life's little humorous situations.

"These guys (at CAVCO) have to have some kind of policy, just like the federal government does when you apply for your passport ... You're going to run into situations like this where you've got one of the most prominent Canadians having to present documentation that he is in fact Canadian."

CAVCO's excuse was that Berton wasn't in their data base, which seems silly on the face of it, he agreed.

"I'm speculating that what the CAVCO data base refers to is people that they already have on record as performers or service providers who have already signed off. In my case, the first time I produced a show I had to do that, so then they would have me on record there as being a Canadian citizen.

"Nevertheless, one would think that somewhere in the government records, period, they would have a record is that Pierre Berton is a Canadian."

"It should be there, but it isn't," said Berton, laughing about "this silly idea of my having to identify myself as a Canadian."

"There's lots of excuses for me to be in the data base ... I don't understand it. I think it's funny though."

Still, it's a problem that the Idea Factory has to solve.

"In our business there is just no end of paperwork that we have to do," Martin said.

There's so much of it, in fact, that it tends to get in the way of the creative process. Martin says they should probably have filed this set of papers a year or so ago, but CAVCO does allow three years to do it.

He thinks the issue will actually be resolved without Berton having to prove anything. CAVCO is now thinking that they don't see Berton, who was the subject of the documentary, as a lead performer, even though ACTRA (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) had insisted that he had to be paid in order to be in the show.

"They're going to look at it differently. Then it's not important. Everybody else is signed off, including Knowlton Nash, who was the narrator."

That'll please Berton, who really doesn't feel the need to prove anything to anyone when it comes to being a Canadian. That was, after all, the point of the documentary.

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Drama Revives at the Oddfellows' Hall

by Dan Davidson


Mary Hitchcock (Wendy Burns), Mrs. Crane (Barb Hanulik) and Edith Van Buren (Jayne Fraser) compare observations of gold rush living while a young miner (Ben Rudis) looks on. Photo by Dan Davidson

After several years of dormancy the Dawson Drama Club has revived itself in cooperation with the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. The first two plays in what it is hoped will be a regular series were presented on December 8th and 9th in the ballroom at the Oddfellows Hall.

The evening opened with "Sailing," a one act play by Michael Shurtleff. It features a dialogue between Walter (Chuck MacLeod) and Hari (Lue Maxwell), a middle aged couple whose children have moved on and who are trying to sort out their lives. Neither of them seem to be entirely comfortable with the emotional side of life, and their endearments have to break through the brittleness of their verbal sparring.

Walter, in particular, is in crisis, experiencing an increasing intolerance with the general foibles of humankind and a frustration with the injustices of life.

There are hints of deeper emotional and perhaps mental problems, but not enough to make us sure exactly what he is going to do on that afternoon when, after venting all this, he leaves Hari to go for a sail. We are led to assume the worst.

After a 20 minute intermission filled with all sorts of goodies, the audience assembled again for the premiere of a play that has been waiting to be performed since the sad death of the annual Dawson Drama Festival some 17 years ago. "Tourists" is a one act play by local humorist Barb Hanulik, who originally wrote it for the festival. The play examines the 1898 visit to the Klondike of two ladies who Pierre Berton has called Dawson's first tourists.

Edith Van Buren (daughter of the president) and Mary Hitchcock arrived during that gold rush summer with literally tonnes of supplies, a parrot, two dozen pigeons, a pair of canaries and two Great Danes. They erected a 70 foot circus tent in West Dawson and spent the summer holding court for the cream of Dawson society. It was so large, unwieldy and leaky that they eventually pitched a second tent inside it to serve as their bedroom.

Mary was a writer and recorded the whole adventure in Two Women of the Klondike. Brief accounts of their adventures can be found in Gamblers and Dreamers by Charlene Porsild, Klondike by Pierre Berton and Women of the Klondike by Frances Backhouse.

Barb based her play on Mary's book and used it to point out the clash of cultures which resulted when two American society women brought their expectations to the Klondike.

The play opens with a Klondike perspective on the situation as three miners, played by Anne Tyrrell, Jennifer Knowlan and Suzanne Gagnon, discuss the apparition and its rumours while waiting for the mail in downtown Dawson.

In the play Mary (Wendy Burns) and Edith (Jayne Fraser) have to cope with a shortage of supplies, a late steamer, obstreperous servants (the redoubtable Issacs, played with gusto by Dominic Lloyd) and the management of a horde of visitors, represented by Barb herself (as the formidable Mrs. Crane), Jennifer Knowlan, Bonnie Nordling (nearly unreconizable as the globe trotting Mr. Quilley), Ben Rudis, Anne Tyrrell.

The play had a lot of laughs for the audience and was a good counterpoint to the more unsettling "Sailing". The pair of plays made for an enjoyable evening out.

The Saturday night production was heavily supported by visiting members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

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Francine Kay in Concert

by Dan Davidson


Francine Kay takes a bow as she finishes her last set. Photo by Dan Davidson

The biggest little concert hall in Dawson seems to be Dick and Joann Van Nostrand's living room. Large enough to accommodate a grand piano and an audience of 25, it was the setting on December 2 for a piano recital by Canadian concert pianist Francine Kay. The event was sponsored by Whitehorse Concerts and the Dawson City Music Festival Society.

Kay was fresh from a successful evening at the Yukon Arts Centre. It's quite a jump from a concert stage to an evening at home, but Kay let slip that at least one of her favorite composers, Chopin, would have preferred the more intimate setting.

Kay opened the evening with the Suite in A minor by Jean -Philippe Rameau (1663-1764) and then moved into the impressionistic compositions of Claude Debussy (1862-1918), performing five preludes from books 1 and 2 of his works. Kay has successfully recorded these preludes to great public acclaim.

After an intermission, Kay moved to the work of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), and spent the rest of the evening there, performing Barcarolle op.60, Waltz in C# minor op.64 no.2, Scherzo in C# minor op.39 no.3, Mazurka in G minor op.24 no.1, Ballade in G minor op.23 no.1.

Chopin, a Polish national in an age which his nation barely existed except under the thumb of the greater European powers, used his music to celebrate the culture of his country and to protest against the things that were being done to it. To no avail. Poland, of course, ceased to exist in the last quarter of the 19th century, and was only reassembled after the Great War of 1914-1918. Even then it was a tenuous existence, and some might say that it has only emerged as a state since the fall of the Soviet Union a decade ago.

Still, one can easily see where the pent up anger and power could come from in such a circumstance as Chopin's exile. Kay used the salon setting to talk briefly about each piece as she played it, explaining its origins, some of the themes to watch for, and some of her own reactions to the work.

Aside from being a marvellous performance, it was painlessly educational as well.

Ms Kay also performed in Haines Junction during this Yukon Tour.

She is more accustomed to the larger venues, having been a featured soloist with many North American orchestras. As a recitalist, Kay has performed throughout the United States, Europe and in cities such as London, New York, Paris, Chicago and concert halls such as Salle Gaveau, Carnegie Hall and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She is also featured regularly on CBC Radio and on many other international radio and television broadcasts.

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Not Quite the Longest Night in Dawson

by Dan Davidson


The Longest Night Ensemble at the Oddfellows' Hall. Photo by Dan Davidson

December 1 may have been a way from the year's longest night in Dawson City, but it was the evening that the Longest Night Ensemble came to town.

The evening began at 6 at the Oddfellows Hall with a fine meal put on by the good folks at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. The entertainment took the stage after an hour or so of good food and conversation had already lulled the audience a bit.

This may have proved to be a little bit of a problem from the point of view of the concert players for, as emcee Daniel Janke was heard to admit several times during the evening, the Longest Night play list for this night tended to be a bit on the moody side, sometimes even a bit sleepy.

Standout tunes included Janke's "Who Killed Robert Johnson" and "On the Rock"; an interesting novelty piece featuring Jay Burr on tuba and other winds; and Don Bishop's Latin drenched untitled composition. The latter piece was the liveliest work of the evening and was the one the group chose for its encore, perhaps feeling that they had spent just a little too much time on the dark side of the winter solstice celebration during the two 40 minute sets.

None of that is to say that it wasn't a fine evening. Good musicianship and good company help to drive the cold winter away any night.

The Longest Night Ensemble included these players: Daniel Janke (vocals, piano & accordion), Andrea McColeman (vocals, accordion & percussion), Rachel Grantham (vocals, violin & percussion), Lonnie Powell (drums), Jay Burr (tuba), Brendan Hanley (clarinet), Don Bishop (trumpet), Kim Barlow (vocal and guitar), and Pam Sinclair (cello).

The appropriately named Steve Dark had the task of balancing all of the instruments through the sound system, and Chris Clarke coordinated the tour.

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Seniors Celebrate Christmas

by Annetta Gleason


Senior's Dinner. Photo by Monique Kuzma

On December 5th, McDonald Lodge had their Annual Seniors Christmas Dinner. This was my first Christmas dinner at the Lodge. My husband Lin, who lives in Dawson City, joined me. The cooks, Lynn, Sandy and Myrna, did a wonderful job with turkey and ham and all the traditional trimmings. The RCMP and their office support turned out to help serve and were a real help to the staff.

There were 68 people attending the dinner. Barnacle Bob played Christmas Carols for us thanks Bob for the wonderful music. Madeleine Gould was there and took lots of pictures of everyone enjoying their meals and visiting with their friends and neighbours.

The dinner was a great success and we'd like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it a success, from the YOOP and Robert Service School who leant us tables and chairs to the Property Management Men who helped us set up and delivered the tables, to the RCMP who served and helped us put the tables away, to Barnacle Bob for his music and to all the staff and volunteers who helped so much. Thanks everyone; we had a great time!

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Yukon Order of Pioneers Christmas Dinner: Past and Present

by John Gould


YOOP Dinner. Photo by Madeleine Gould

The Yukon Order of Pioneers held their first annual dinner on December 31, 1897 in this hall which was built the summer of 1897. The dinner was catered to by the chef from Belinda Mulroney's hotel, the Fairview. The menu was:

The New Years Eve dinner has been held for many years. Then it was changed, and the annual dinner was held on the Saturday nearest December 4th the anniversary of the Y.O.O.P. There was also a dinner at noon on Christmas day for all the old timers in Dawson men and women, who lived by themselves. many of the wives of the members would help with preparing the menu for the dinner, cooking the hams and turkey at home, setting table and washing up afterwards. Members of the lodge would send out invitations to the old timers, and then those members with cars would give them a ride to the lodge, this was done for many years. Eventually there were not many who were living alone. By this time the Alexander McDonald Lodge was build, most of the old timers of Dawson moved into the facility. The Pioneers Lodge, entered into an agreement with the McDonald Lodge who would cook the Christmas dinner, and the Pioneer Lodge would help in any way they could making sure that those still living on their own had transportation to the dinner.

The pioneer Dinner held on the first of December 2001 was the 104th dinner held by Dawson Lodge No. 1. the menu was turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, salads, vegetables, and plenty of desserts with tea and coffee. The delicious meal was catered by Ruby's Hideaway Restaurant.

Because of the chilly weather some of the guests vehicles were left running so they would be warm when the social evening came to an end. Many pioneers and their friends that attended the dinner.

After dinner there were door prizes and bingos for turkeys. The bingos were called by the retired bingo caller Jack Fraser.

Everyone had a good time, talking with friends and swapping tales and lies.

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