Dawson City, Yukon Friday, December 7, 2001

Is this Smoke on the Water or Just a Deep Purple Haze? Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

The City of Dawson and the Supervisor
Gold Show Future Pondered
The Yukon's Biggest Advent Calendar
Celebrating the Verses of Robert Service
Urban Coyote on the Trail
Dawson Art in Munich
A Blizzard of Youthful Art Hits Dawson
Editorial: Smoke on the Water

Welcome to the December 7, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 23 photographs and 23 articles which were in the 24-page December. 4 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.

The City of Dawson and the Supervisor

by Dan Davidson

In December of 2000 the City of Dawson told the Yukon government that it needed to get involved in helping the town plan how it could meet the financial challenge of paying for the operating costs of a second stage sewage treatment system. The council, in line with the conclusions of every other council over the last two decades, was quite certain it couldn't be done.

Mayor Glen Everitt retraced the conversation that took place during a public meeting on November 28.

"I was directed by council to say 'If you do not do this (get involved), we are not doing this (secondary sewage treatment)'. That was very clear to the government and it really angered them."

Council told YTG that the costs of doing this unnecessary thing that the town was being forced to do were going to bankrupt the town. If that were to happen then YTG was welcome to the keys to the city, Everitt and councillor Byrun Shandler recalled saying.

"You run Dawson," Everitt recalls telling YTG, "because you're not going to charge people those rates. You don't do it in any other community that you are responsible for."

Dawson's utility rates for sewer and water are the highest in the Yukon already, running at over $1200 annually for a single family residence. This is more than twice the Whitehorse rate.

About a month later, on January 18, it was announced that the City of Dawson was going into partnership with the territorial government. The actual staging of this announcement was accompanied by a good deal of acrimony, some of which seems to have been created by the off the record comments made by YTG staff at the time. Reporters for the city newspapers and radio have confirmed that the staff comments took a far harder line than the fairly conciliatory press release (#010 - January 18, 2001 - GOVERNMENT OFFERS TO ASSIST THE CITY OF DAWSON), creating the impression that the town council was about to be replaced.

Nothing like this every actually happened.

In the briefing from the Minister, Pam Buckway, which was received by the Klondike Sun the day before the announcement, two things were clear:

1) The City of Dawson had not exceeded its spending authority at the time she chose to act. She was concerned that the current projects plus the additional burden of the impending sewer and water upgrade, might cause this to happen and so was prepared to "assist" the community in devising a plan to avoid the problem.

2) Further, at no time had she even contemplated asking for what the Municipal Act calls an order by the Commissioner in Executive Council to "dismiss the council or the member."

While Ken Hodgins was appointed as a supervisor, under the terms of the municipal act, his role was not to take over the governance of the town but simply to assist it in planning a long range budget.

Everitt admits that the Municipal Act does spell out some pretty hefty powers for supervisors, but said they don't apply in this case.

"I know that the act says," Everitt said. "I was on the team that wrote that act. There were eight of us that wrote the whole thing over a three year period. Everything was written in a broad sense and also written to tell you what you can't do and what you can.

"The act says they can appoint a supervisor, which is what they did. Part two says the minister can give direction. Part three says you're required to provide information to the supervisor in a financial plan.

"The direction part is important. The minister's direction to the supervisor was that he would not oversee the movement of the city, the passing of the budget, the development of anything. He will help them by providing advice on the development of a seven year financial plan. That's it.

"He's been here four times. We do not phone him when we're going to sign cheques. We do not phone him to approve anything."

The purpose of the seven year plan was to prove that the town could afford to operate its existing infrastructure, the new recreation centre and the sewer plant.

Regarding recent debates in the legislature between MLA Peter Jenkins and the Minister of C&TS, Pam Buckway, Everitt said, "I do honestly believe that the intent of our MLA is to be positive."

It's an attempt, he said, to shelter the town in the event that the mediation efforts it is now engaging in go badly and the community is held responsible for additional costs. Mr. Jenkins wants to be able to pass those costs, if any, on to the territorial government, which, in his interpretation of the events, would be responsible for the outcome.

Everitt said it would almost be nice if this were the case, but it's not.

"They had no input in the planning other than to give advice."

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Gold Show Future Pondered

by Dan Davidson


The Bonanza Centre arena, venue for 15 years of Gold Shows, no longer exists, having been torn down the summer after this shot was taken. Photo by Dan Davidson

Is there a future for the Dawson City Gold Show? That was the question on the minds of the six people who turned out to a widely publicized public meeting at the Downtown Hotel on November 27.

The show, which began in 1986, started out as a celebration of gold mining, timed to coincide with the spring meeting of the Klondike Placer Miners Association, but it changed over the years as mining slowly dwindled, becoming more of a consumer trade show with a mining emphasis.

As it neared its fifteenth year, in 2000, it was clear that many of the booths were filled by federal and territorial government regulatory agencies, not exactly the sight that placer miners wanted to see when they entered the Bonanza Centre Arena.

For 2001 the original plan was to have a Gas, Oil and Local Development (G.O.L.D.) Show, but somehow gold got dropped out of the acronym and the mining community got gas trying to digest the changes.

Last year, however, the trade show didn't happen. Its venue, the arena, had been torn down and, while its replacement was supposed to have been ready in time for the trade show, it became clear that it wasn't going to be and that it wasn't possible to make suitable alternate arrangements.

The arena is ready yet, which is another story, except that this fact did leave the nucleus of a planning committee, including two people from the chamber of commerce, two from the Klondike Visitors Association, and the coordinator of the last successful event, wondering if finding a venue might be one of the problems they would have to overcome to have a show in 2002.

Probably a more important factor was the absence of anyone from the mining community, KPMA member or otherwise. As the discussion continued over the lunch hour it was pretty clear from comments made by chamber president Boyd Gillis and KVA marketing manager Wendy Burns, that there needed to be miners involved in a committee or it just wouldn't work.

There was no point in staging an event to celebrate mining if the miners didn't show a visible and financial interest. And the committee did want to celebrate mining, which has fallen on hard times.

Suggestions ranged from having a homecoming event for anyone who has mined here, to staging gold pourings, arranging for a showing of different types of raw, poured and worked gold, everything from nuggets to bricks to jewelry.

A possible theme might even be that mining is still alive after 106 years, in spite of everything from hard times to government regulations. After months of hearing that mining is "in the toilet" (to use a phrase commonly heard at the recent AGM of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce) it might be a morale booster to show that the town that mining started still cares about miners.

The gold show was originally begun with input from the KPMA, KVA, Chamber of Commerce and the City of Dawson, and it may take all of those groups, plus perhaps some input from the Klondike Centennials Society (which seems to be good at developing themes) to get it going again.

More practical problems, such as funding for a coordinator, and who to invite to give speeches and present seminars (and how to pay for that), may just resolve themselves if the project develops momentum and vision.

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The Yukon's Biggest Advent Calendar

by Lisa Hutton


Lisa Hutton and Louise Ranger beside the S.S. Keno. Photo by Dan Davidson

A Community Advent Calendar on the S. S. Keno National Historic Site! Join us this Christmas season in a celebration of the artistic talents of Dawson's youngest citizens. Daily unveilings of original artwork by our youngest residents at the S. S. Keno National Historic Site combined with daily prizes of Christmas goodies at the Post Office.

This is the culmination of an idea born less than a year ago while Louise Ranger and I were traveling through Europe. Standing in Vienna's World Famous Christmas Fair and admiring all of the sites, their National Palace or Parliament Building came into view. The city had made the building into an Advent Calendar, each window revealing seasonally festive pictures as the days went by. Immediately grasping what I was looking at, I said to Louise that next year we have to do the same thing to the S. S. Keno. Being that the Keno is my favourite historic site in Dawson, I wanted to bring the focus back to her in a big way.

Well it is just about a year later and the idea is going forward, I approached Parks Canada with Louise Ranger as my partner in crime and sold them on the idea of making the S. S. Keno a community advent calendar showcasing the artistic talents of Dawson's youth. The theme of the calendar is "Our Winter Community". Once we knew that we had the full support of Parks Canada to have access to the boat we approached the two daycares in town about doing the feature days of the 24th and 25th. Now there are usually only 24 days on an advent calendar as the 25th is Christmas day, but we felt including Christmas day was important. We then approached Robert Service School about producing the other 23 days required and the response has been overwhelming.

We have unfortunately been so busy with the logistics of this project, we haven't had time to stop and smell the media flowers. We're not looking for credit - just exposure for this most timeless beauty and her most precious 2001 cargo.

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Celebrating the Verses of Robert Service

by Dan Davidson


Grade Four's team of huskies encounters winter along the trail. Photo by Dan Davidson

What could be more fitting than that students at the Robert Service School should be involved in the annual Robert Service recitation contest? November 28 was the day of the local event. After some days of preparation students from grades 1-7 were ready to participate in the contest, which was jointly sponsored by the school and the Dawson Community Library.

A good sized audience turned out for the afternoon's fun and the fourteen presentations.

In the class category grade 4 picked up the honours with a visually punny rendition of "My Husky Team." Grades 1 presented the well known "Goodbye Little Cabin"; grade 3 recited and acted out "Flight" and grade 2 presented "Nature Man".

In the small group category Lisa Perry and Mindy Anderson scored a first place finish acting out "Yellow," one of the bard's less humorous pieces, while Charles Brunner and Joshua Vogt came second with "The Bohemian," one of Service's warnings about the ills that beset mankind.

Mary Fraughton was the winner in the single presentation category, with her reading of "My Friends," while Ashley Graham came second with "Unforgotten."

If the school can come up with the travel funds the winners may attend the Whitehorse contest early in the new year.

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Urban Coyote on the Trail

by Dan Davidson


Miche Genest, one of the editors of Urban Coyote. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Urban Coyote Collective hit the road last weekend and made a field trip to the Klondike, where five of members of its pack joined with a like minded group of scribes from Dawson to have a bit of a communal howl at the ODD Gallery.

Miche Genest and Al Pope took turns hosting the evening, which ran for about two and a half hours in two sections.

Urban Coyote writers Jenny Trapnell, Murray Munn, Al Pope, Miche Genest and Paul Davis read from their selections and from the works of others in the anthology, sometimes stopping just at a cliffhanger in order to encourage some of the twenty-five or so locals to buy a copy.

Genest included one of her Greek stories, fiction springing from the time she spent in that country, a tale about local customs and how outsiders just don't understand.

Pope blew the room away by shifting into his native Scots brogue and reading a chapter/short story from a novel he has been working on.

The Dawson readers came largely from the local writer's group that meets in the library.

Anthea Whittiker read "The Girl from Outer Space" a allegorical tale about an alien visitor investigating snowflakes.

Dawne Mitchell read two comic pieces about her relationship with gardening.

Jack Fraser contributed some boyhood memories of linguistic confusion from his youth in Depression era Alberta.

Matthew LeQuick kept the audience hunting down literary allusions in a long quest like piece of poetry.

Mary Dolman and Marielle Schoener also contributed poems to the evening.

What was revealed, aside from the talent and effort that went into Urban Coyote, is that there is probably enough material sitting in Dawson right now to do a similar volume within the next year. Who will step up and undertake the project seems to be the only remaining question.

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Dawson Art in Munich

by Palma Berger


Jackie Olson in front of her artwork in Munich. Photo supplied

Imagine going to a reception that had 800 people in attendance. Imagine it when that is just under half of the population of your hometown. This is the situation in which Dawson artist Jackie Olsen found herself in Munich at the opening of the Munich Museum of Anthropology earlier this year.

Jackie and fellow First Nation's artist Ukjese Van Klampton had a showing of their art work at America House in Munich. This newly created Museum of Anthropology features the arts of the North American Indian and Inuit, and so had purchased one of each of the Yukon Artists' works shown at America House. From Jackie they purchased "Drum Fire" and from Ukjese they purchased "I Must Be Important, I Have All These Cards". Both were invited to the opening of the Museum of Anthropology.

Jackie was especially thrilled to receive one of the invitations sent out to find that it was her painting featured on the invitations. As the opening coincided with the closing down of the art show in America House, she was available to go.

She was at first bowled over. "That many people is more than I am used to." But she met the Canadian Ambassador, Marie Bernard, and the Canadian representative at the Canadian Consulate in Munich.

The specialty of the Assistant Director of the Museum, Dr. Rousseau, is North American and Inuit art. Many of the exhibits are donations from descendants of the gentry who, in the past traveled widely and collected. Now the descendants have neither room for, or interest in the objects their ancestors collected, or simply wanted to put them in the hands of a curator, and were willing to donate them. Other exhibits were purchases the Museum made.

Among the exhibits is a skin kayak that is the oldest one of its kind in existence.

"The building was awesome," says Jackie as she described the displays behind glass, the walkways, the way the clothing and West Coast masks were hung from the ceiling, with the light coming down from above. The displays were not put in the context of regions, but rather in the occupations. For example the tools for hunting from different regions were together in one case, as were the cooking utensils in another case. The large rug had imprints of animals on it. The large deerskin with drawings hung on one wall.

As you go up the stairwell there is housed the temporary exhibits, as in one of Morriseau's painting which was on loan, as well as an Inuit print.

The whole exhibit will be up for five years then they will change it. They want to show more of contemporary work of First Nations people. But at least the Yukon is represented there.

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A Blizzard of Youthful Art Hits Dawson

by Dan Davidson


At the YOOP Hall, David Curtis' drawing class posed with some of their work on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson was a hotbed of youthful artistic exploration during the third week in November as the first Youth Art Enrichment conference was held under the aegis of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.

"We wanted to see what KIAC could do in terms of visual art enrichment for high school students," said Karen Dubois, KIAC's Program Director.

The result was modeled after the successful annual Young Authors' Conference (held each April by the Department of Education), though it was twice as long.

KIAC used venues all over town for this event, said Dubois. Students attended workshops from 9 to 12 and 1 to 4 in the following areas:

At the Pioneer Hall local artist David Curtis taught basic drawing and block printing. He said he was thrilled by what his students had managed to produce and coaxed them to show it off for the camera as they were wrapping up early Sunday afternoon.

At the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Cultural Centre Whitehorse Artist Ken Ingemund Anderson taught Northwest coast drawing, painting and carving.

At the Dawson campus of Yukon College Paul Henderson taught New Directions in Art, including computer graphics, mail art, 'zines and trading cards.

"I introduced them to Adobe Photoshop," Henderson said. "and we did a combination of graphic design, using layout, fonts and text. We also worked hands on with drawing and collage, then scanned them into the computer and reworked them using the program."

The students produced a 52 page 'zine called "Anti-Plastic Rayon" on 18 cm x 22 cm paper folded in half, containing their own finished work plus photos, poetry and work from the other sessions.

At the Oddfellows Hall, the home of KIAC, Janet Moore taught mixed media and collage.

"We worked with a variety of media in this class," Moore said. "It was just a privilege to work with them. I felt so filled up by their creative energy that I'm going to go home and have lots of energy for my own work as well."

Jacklyn Rozon, a Whitehorse student from Porter Creek High School, said the four days had far surpassed her expectations, "It was a lot better than what thought it would be. It was great just to come here and work with all these artists and see what we could do. I didn't even think I'd be capable of doing this kind of work."

Carol McCauley, the Area III superintendent of Education and Shirley Pennell, the now retired vice-principal and former art teacher at the Robert Service School, were key contacts in helping to plan for this event.

During the process, The plan got paired down from four week long workshops to four workshops running during the same week.

Dubois presented the project to the members of the Association of Yukon School Administrators early in the fall and it was met with much enthusiasm. Some fifty plus applicants had submitted their names by mid-October.

Forty-six students in all were chosen, six from Dawson and forty from Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Mayo and Haines Junction, to participate in the workshops. The out of town students arrived on November 20. Courses began the next day and continued through to Sunday, with the visiting students leaving that afternoon.

While here, the visitors stayed at the Downtown Hotel. They had to pay $50 each for their hotel room and Dubois estimates that each student was probably out about $100 in costs. They didn't have to worry about two of their meals each day, though.

"I have this wonderful volunteer committee headed by Shirley (Pennell), who will be doing breakfasts and lunches for everyone at the Catholic Church," Dubois said in an interview before the event.

The students' art teachers also attended the workshops.

Sponsors for this event included the Department of Education, the Youth Investment Fund, the Yukon Order of Pioneers, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, and KIAC itself. Northwestel is the largest single sponsor for the event, which will cost about $13,000 in direct costs not including the transportation of the delegates.

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Editorial: Smoke on the Water

by Dan Davidson

Perhaps the Yukon River is on fire.

Maybe that's the answer. Maybe that's why it won't freeze in front of Dawson City.

It certainly looks like it's on fire. From the Front Street side of the dyke there's a steady rolling curtain of dark stuff rising into the -37?C air. When you ease your vehicle down to the ferry landing you can see that the river has frozen over in its shallow parts. The winding expanse of black water that you can just make out under the haze follows the deep channel, starting up near the Klondike River and continuing as far as the eye can see in the direction of Moosehide.

The steam that's rising off that wide expanse of open water doesn't much resemble the white, fluffy stuff that rises from a boiling pot. It's grey and somehow greasy in texture. It's thick enough that it would be hard to see where your pathway left off and the open water began if you were inclined to make the traverse. Brave souls are finding a way to cross it on foot or by ski-doo, but it can't be a really pleasant trip.

Morning mist isn't like this. It obscures things for a few hours and then slides on up the mountain and disappears. Evening mist settles, moving over things like a blanket.

This river fog just sits there, hovering a few metres above the surface, obscuring the black water from which it takes its colour. I suppose the greyness comes from the contrast between the dark river and the whiteness of the snow and the shore ice.

It's a nuisance for the people who live in West Dawson. It's a nuisance for the good ladies of the IODE, who can't even count on nature to provide the right conditions for their breakup ice pool.

We should probably try to make something positive out of this uncertainty - spin it so that it works for us.

Maybe we could market it as "the Mysterious Burning River". Rewrite the words to "Smoke on the Water" and turn it into an advertising jingle. Entice people to come down and see "the river that won't freeze - even at 40 below."

Just imagine:

Or perhaps we could have a reverse ice pool. Instead of betting on a day and time when the river ice breaks up, we could run one pool based on the month, week and day that it will finally freeze and another on the date when the official ice bridge will be ready to use.

Only thing is, we can't allow "never" as one of the options. There could be too many winners.

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