Dawson City, Yukon Friday, February 1, 2002

A snow machine towing a sledge full of supplies heads north along the Peoples' Ice Bridge. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Gold Show Committee Struck to Plan Revival
Once More onto the Ice Dear Friends
Dawson Annoyed by Assessment Appeal Deadline
CIBC Supports Dawson City Museum
Museum Opens New Pre-Gold Rush Gallery
Recreation Centre Issues Go to Arbitration
KCS Announces Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball
3rd Annual Ruck on Ice
Andy Jones: Going to the Wall and Then Some
Photo Exhibit by Janice Cliff
Bugs and the Art of Minh Nguyen
Jim Robb Celebrates Bombay Peggy's

Welcome to the February 1, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 8 photographs and 28 articles which were in the 24-page January 29 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, the locally created cartoon "Camp Life", 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.

Gold Show Committee Struck to Plan Revival

by Dan Davidson

It may be scaled down and may have to be held in several places about the town, but there will be a Gold Show this May. That was the decision taken by a meeting of fifteen interested business people at their meeting on January 16 at the Visitors Reception Centre.

The discussion went round the tables for some forty-five minutes, listing lots of pros and cons.

The Gold Show is, after all, a fairly expensive proposition to mount, and it doesn't make a cent usually. The fees charged for the trade show side of it subsidize the forums and it generally manages to break even.

That's not it's main purpose, of course.

Rene Mayes, who directed the last successful event two years ago, said the networking is the main attraction of the weekend. It's a chance for buyers and sellers to get to know each other, for producers separated by distance and busy schedules to renew acquaintance.

In the discussion it became clear that people felt the show worked on two levels. For the industry people it was what Mayes had described. For local businesses, it was a bit of a kick start to the tourism season.

Val Anderson of the Klondike Visitors Association noted that Diamond Tooth Gerties opens on the Victoria Day weekend.

Chamber of commerce president Boyd Gillis and Jon Magnusson of the Klondyke Centennials Society spoke of the need to fill some hotel rooms for a few nights.

Gary Parker, manager at the Dawson City Arts Society, summarized what might be done to fill out a couple of days. In his view it could be a kind of miner's appreciation weekend, with a social aspect.

As before, there was discussion about building in a celebration of the paleontological work that has been done over the years, aided by the fins the miners have discovered on their claims. Gillis hoped to be able to go into partnership with the Dawson City Museum on that project.

At this meeting, with more than four times the number of participants than attended the last one, the Klondike Placer Miners Association was also represented. Speaking for the KPMA Leslie Chapman said that someone must have misunderstood when they got the impression that the association wasn't interested in the gold show.

Her proposal was that the KPMA would sponsor a dance which would be open to the community, "showing Dawson that we are part of the community, too." It would take place after the evening spring meeting of the KPMA, which usually happens on the Friday night.

Gillis summed up the idea of where to hold the pieces of the event. Chances are that the arena, still unfinished and currently bogged down by litigation rather that construction problems, may not be ready by May. This uncertainty was the downfall of last year's show, so he felt it would be better to plan to act without it, using smaller venues around the town.

A trade show could be mounted in the school gymnasium, provided arrangements could be made to cover the school's gym classes for two of three days. Special exhibits could be set up in the YOOP Hall or the Museum. Social events could be held in the Oddfellows Hall or perhaps the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Community Hall.

There was a strong feeling that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board meeting here in December had proven that it was possible to hold an event without having one big place to put it all in.

The hardest part of the evening was pulling together a committee to begin the detailed planning. All of these people have businesses and the group can't afford a part time coordinator, as was the practice for the past few years. In the end Boyd Gillis, Leslie Chapman, Mark Mather (Dawson City General Store), David Millar (Goldbottom Mining Tours), Rene Mayes and Lindsay Jordan (Chamber of Commerce) agreed to take on the task of fine tuning the project, restoring the Gold Show to life after its one year hiatus.

There was enough enthusiasm around the table to ensure that a scaled down version of the 16 year old event could be assembled on time, but it will take a lot of work and the commitment of a good many volunteers. Anyone interested should contact the chamber office in Dawson at 993-5274.

top.gif

Once More onto the Ice Dear Friends

by Dan Davidson


Courtesy dictates that vehicles which meet in the middle of the bridge will give each other lots of room. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawsonites adjust to the weather and circumstances as much as they can. The local curling club is planning to hold its commercial bonspiel out on the Yukon River again this year, since progress on the arena is tied up in legal discussions, the curling rink won't be ready and last year was a success outdoors, so they're at it again this year.

In the same way locals have once again made their own ice bridge across the Yukon River, a route slightly more than two kilometres long which takes about the same amount of time as a ferry ride to cross.

The route has varied a little over the last four years of doing this. The original impulse seemed to be to go to the south end of town and take off from the lower dyke road, but this year, as last, the ferry landing at the north end is the jumping off point.

It began as a walking trail, moving from shallow to shallow, finding the thicker ice and avoiding the main channel with its open leads. The first stories had people walking across with long balancing poles so they could pull themselves out if the ice broke.

Time passed and we heard of skidoos, none of which seemed to go through. More constant use hardened the route for light trucks and sport utility vehicles, which seem to be the wheels of choice for many who live on the west side of the Yukon River.

In mid-December, as reported here earlier, the Fellers family decided the trail was thick and firm enough to risk a farm tractor on, and they spent a few days with a blade, improving the rough surface which is the legacy of this year's freeze-up.

After that, traffic became a common sight.

This reporter drove it first during the Christmas Break, just to see what it was like this year, and because there was a New Year's dinner to attend on the far side on January 1. On neither of those trips was there enough sun to get any decent photographs.

A twilight trip across the river is still kind of spooky, especially when you meet a pack of snow machines and they suddenly veer of into the nowhereland of the jumble ice, through some shortcut only they can see, leaving you to wonder if you've missed a turn or something. Eerie., yes.

Daylight was better the next week, which was when the photos for this piece were taken.

The warning sign "This road not maintained beyond this point. Travel at own risk." serves to remind you that travelling at something like idling speed is probably the best plan. It's just about a kilometre down to the point where the river is narrowest and the actual ice bridge has to cross deep water. The road winds out from the shore a bit. Whether that's the path of least resistance or a ploy to avoid the rotting edges which plagued the People's Bridge last spring is anyone's guess.

From the point you can see the track down to Moosehide, which also hugs the bank. The river in front of the old Han village is as open as the lead in front of Dawson.

From here it's a 400 metre diagonal ride across the river, on a surface which feels quite solid. The entire bridge is a one lane affair with frequent wider spaces where one driver can ease over and let another go by.

The east bank ice is a real mess of jumble ice. You wonder how anyone got through it to begin with. On the west bank things are smooth and even. The cruise to the ferry landing is another 700 metres. Snowmobiles pull out before that of course, swooping up and down the bank, but a light four wheel drive has no trouble negotiating the well sanded west bank and pulling up to the road.

The trip back never seems as long as the trip out.

top.gif

Dawson Annoyed by Assessment Appeal Deadline

by Dan Davidson


The generator building seen to the left of the Yukon Energy Company offices has been down and up in assessed value as the result of this year's assessment process. Photo by Dan Davidson

The City of Dawson is quite puzzled about the territorial government's handling of property assessments this year. So far the town office has received two quite different sets of documents, and discovered a number of errors in the second set. But, said town manager Scott Coulson, he has been told by YTG that it's too late to make any more appeals.

"We had the first set that came in," he said in a recent interview, "and they were completely out of whack."

The town treasurer went through them line by line, finding questionable information on every line.

At that time, in mid November, Mayor Glen Everitt announced at a council meeting that it looked like assessments had gone up about 9% across the board. The issue arose in delegations due to rumors that the town was planning to raise taxes to pay for cost overruns on the recreation centre projects.

Neither part of the rumor was true, Everitt asserted, but he warned the television audience that their taxes would probably rise due to the assessment increase.

"We sent them back," Coulson explained, two months later, "and they said, 'Whoops, we made a mistake.' and they redid it and sent us a new one.

"We did the same thing, going through it line by line, and we still had a bunch of questions. A lot of the hotels, a lot of the government buildings, the school, things like that dropped significantly."

Residential rates, however, went "up, way up", to borrow a phrase from the Friendly Giant. Private dwellings shot up from 25% to 35%, averaging around 30%.

To the council, it looked a lot like the government had decided to devalue some of its own property to lower its tax bill and make it up by increasing the load to the residents.

"The big one was actually the Yukon Energy Corporation generator building," Coulson said. "It dropped dramatically also." This was after YEC had invested quite a bit in repairs and upgrades.

Coulson said, "We did up a spreadsheet with questions and sent it in, and it turned out that they had made quite a few errors once again. They corrected them - some of them."

The YEC building not only didn't drop, it increased slightly, which made more sense. Government buildings remained low.

Later on Coulson was meeting with the manager in charge of the process, Gary Gerein on another matter and indicated that the town still had some questions it wanted answered.

"He said, 'Oh, you're past the date when you can question.'

"This is ridiculous," Coulson said, "considering that they made they mistakes."

He feels that the thirty day time line for asking questions should begin from the time that the most recently revised assessment was received by the town.

"How can a hotel that just spent a lot of money on improvements go down by $600,000? How can you justify that?"

"I mean," Coulson said, "all the government buildings went down. There wasn't one that didn't. I told him that if they wanted to lower their own taxes, that was a way of doing that. He looked at me like I was calling him a liar."

The town isn't in a position to lower its residential mil rate. That would cause it to be penalised in its block funding. But the town's budget isn't finished yet, and won't be until March. There's a distinct possibility that council might establish a new rate for government buildings.

"We want it to stay on par; we don't want to increase revenues, but we do want to stay where we were."

Coulson said that he has checked with other rural communities and the story is pretty much the same, though he has been told by YTG officials that the value of government property throughout the territory actually rose as a result of this assessment. He said that he can't figure it out.

"All the increases must have happened in Whitehorse."

He says he can't make sense of that, since the assessments are supposed to be based on Whitehorse replacement values, and those certainly can't be less in Dawson than they are in the capital city.

top.gif

CIBC Supports Dawson City Museum

The Dawson City Museum & Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has received a donation of $5,000 in support of its operating expenses from the CIBC.

Having opened its branch in Dawson City on 15 June 1898 as The Canadian Bank of Commerce, and been in continuous operation here since then, CIBC takes great pride in its long history in Dawson City. It recognizes the importance of the Dawson City Museum in preserving and educating the public about the rich history of Dawson City and the entire Klondike region.

The Museum Board and all those associated with its operation are very gratified with this strong show of corporate support from the CIBC. In an environment where the costs of operating the Museum facility and the levels of expectations from all directions about our performance are all increasing exponentially, this is a most welcome boost to the Museum operation. The lack of increases in the past number of years and even some drastic reductions in funding support from government sources has placed the Museum in a very difficult financial position. It is very encouraging to have this financial support from CIBC during the current financial squeeze.

Twice during last summer's busy tourist season for example we were very close to having to close our doors to the public due to a lack of funds to meet our payroll. The Dawson City Museum currently is in a critical situation and the funding squeeze means that our ongoing viability is beginning to come into question. We have diversified our revenue sources substantially over the past number of years and currently generate 84.8% of the revenues required to operate, but government contributions have not kept pace. Compared to the levels of government funding devoted to sports and arts organizations for instance, we believe that the Museum operation which husbands a tremendous wealth of locally, territorially, and nationally significant heritage resources has been chronically underfunded.

top.gif

Museum Opens New Pre-Gold Rush Gallery

The Dawson City Museum & Historical Society is proud to open its newest exhibit gallery constructed recently in its impressive century old heritage structure known as the Old Territorial Administration Building.

The new gallery which is unique in the territory focuses on the rich history of the Klondike region from the little known period in the half century prior to the gold rush. The Museum has expanded its exhibits on the Han people who inhabited the area prior to the gold rush with elements such as a diorama showing a winter camp scene. First Nations trade between the coast and the interior as well as the historic trade at the Hudson's Bay Company post at Fort Selkirk are treated. Exploration and mission work in the Klondike are also illustrated. Come see the Museum's gopher skin blanket a highly appropriate artifact for the gallery opening on Groundhog Day!

The exhibits continue with a model and many photographs of the community of Forty Mile that thrived with a population of a thousand people prior to the discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek in 1896. We also compare the equipment used by "Forty Mile Man" in the 1880s with that of "Modern Musher" more than a century later. Early gold mining techniques and Yukon River transportation are also explored. The new exhibits conclude with additional material including an audio account by Patsy Henderson on the discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek that leads on into the Museum's existing exhibits dealing with gold mining and the social history of Dawson City.

Funding for the new pre-gold rush gallery has been provided by the John G. Lind family, the Heritage Branch of the Yukon Tourism Department, Hon. Sue Edelman Minister, and Lotteries Yukon. The exhibits were fabricated and installed by Paul Derhak Custom Millwork in association with Leslie Piercy, Daintry Chapple, and Bird's Eye Design based on research and planning by Sally Robinson & Associates.

All are invited to attend the opening of the Dawson City Museum's new John G. Lind Gallery at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday 2 February. A pancake breakfast costing five dollars in support of Museum operations will be held starting at 9:00 a.m. and door prizes will be provided.

top.gif

Recreation Centre Issues Go to Arbitration

by Dan Davidson


The afternoon sun hits the nearly completed Rec. Centre on Fifth Avenue in Dawson. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson's Recreation Centre looks pretty much finished from the outside and, indeed, city manager Scott Coulson says it's fairly complete inside, except for the concrete floor in the arena.

That would have been poured in the middle of last fall except that the geotechnical firm advising the town recommended against it, indicating that the permafrost had thawed and would need to freeze back before the job could be done with any hope of it lasting beyond a year or two without problems.

Indeed, it has been stated in council meetings last December that some concrete which was poured around the footings would probably need to be replaced for the same reasons.

The delays meant that, once again, the contracting firm of TSL was unable to provide what the council expected to receive as "substantial completion" of the project, a deadline for which was originally set for July of 2001.

The whole matter, Coulson said in an interview this week, has gone to mediation and arbitration. The sessions are currently scheduled to take place on February 12 and 13, and if the concerns of the City of Dawson; FSC, the architectural firm; and TSL, the contractor, are resolved during those talks, then the project can go forward.

"There might be some mediation and some arbitration," Coulson said.

He confirmed that the most likely time for pouring the arena floor would be in April or early May, at the same time that it would have taken place last year if the contractor had met the original timetable for construction.

He felt that the physical work could actually be done even if the issues at the table had not been completely settled.

Much of the other interior work has been completed already, and the exterior looks ready to go.

"There might be some things that we're not happy with, but that's just normal construction."

That situation is still too uncertain for the committee planning to revive the Gold Show this May. The event was cancelled last year when it became clear that TSL was not going to meet an earlier commitment to have the arena ready by May 2001. This year's committee is planning to use several venues around the town so that they won't be tied to the success or failure of this project.

top.gif

KCS Announces Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball

Klondyke Centennial Society today announced the Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball will kick off the many celebrations planned for Dawson City in 2002. On January 9 1902 the Incorporation of the City was officially recognized as a city and the First Election was held on February 6, 1902.

On January 9, 2002 the Klondyke Centennial Society hosted a Community open house at City Hall in honor of the 100 Anniversary of the Incorporation. Approximately 100 residents attended the Birthday Celebration where local historian John Gould cut the Birthday Cake. Mayor Glen Everitt unveiled the display, which houses the "Time Capsule", to be opened on January 9, 2102. Visitors can view the "Time Capsule" display just inside the entrance to City Hall along with other memento's of the Klondike Gold Rush Centennials.

On February 9, 2002 Dawson City will officially celebrate the Incorporation Anniversary at the "Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball" that will be held at Diamond Tooth Gerties. This Gala 1890's evening will kick off the final year for the Decade of Centennials of the Klondike Gold Rush 1993-2002 with entertainment for the evening beginning at 6:00pm with local duo Willie Gordon & Bob Hilliard for cocktails and appetizers. Dinner is at 7:00pm and at 9:00pm Dance to Wall Street coming to Dawson City from Vancouver for the celebration.

For more information contact:

Klondyke Centennial Society
Kelly Miller
Tel: 867-993-1996
Fax: 867-993-2002
Email: kcs@yknet.yk.ca

top.gif

3rd Annual Ruck on Ice

by Carolyn Risebrough

On March 19th, 2002, history will be made. The third annual rugby match between the Dawson City Barbarians and the British Military will take place, and this time, the trophy will end up in Dawson's hands.

The Dawson City Barbarians have been practicing since the end of November in preparation for this game, even in temperatures below -30C. The team is also working hard (off the field) to raise money for equipment, jerseys and other costs of creating a club. After submitting a grant application to the Dawson City Recreation Board, the team was successful at receiving funds for 10 rugby balls, a tackle bag and a rucking bag.

The team is still recruiting players, experienced or not, and invite anyone interested to come out to the Robert Service School yard on Thursdays at 5:30pm and/or Sundays at 2:00pm for a friendly match. Although the "Ruck On Ice" in March will be seven players per side, a full team of 15 is the goal for summer recreational games. Competition will stem both from the Yukon and Alaska. Club membership will be discussed this spring.

The Barbarians are also recruiting spectators. So throw on your parkas, and come down to the river to cheer on the home team at 6:00pm, March 19th.

top.gif

Andy Jones: Going to the Wall and Then Some

by Dan Davidson

They used to say that you can take the boy out of the church but you can't take the church out of the boy. Andy Jones' new show, "To the Wall" seems to be living proof of that truism. Jones entertained a full (and oversold out) house at the Oddfellows Hall in Dawson on Saturday night and presented what must have seemed an odd show to anyone who hasn't been to church lately.

It you went expecting Codco skits, or some of the fare that sister Kathy presents on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", then you might have left the hall a trifle disappointed.

What Jones had prepared (getting back to my first point), was a bit of a sermon, complete with four or five main themes, digressions, funny bits and serious bits, all of which were intended (so he said) to make us think about the nature of the world and the possible meaning of life.

Now this is not new stuff for comedy. Monty Python did it in a movie. Douglas Adams did it in a very funny novel. Dilbert's Scott Adams did it a strange book called God's Debris.

Andy Jones did it with a slide show, a computer, a bucket, thermostats, a bit of knotted cord and an array of vestments that would make a bishop blush.

The slide show was used for a number of things. There were some slides of parts of Newfoundland, showing how difficult it would be to create such a place by randomly tossing sand about; the Jones' family (including an aunt who was the centerpiece of one monologue); some text about the true nature of performance art; pictures of historical figures and the words of Stephen Hawking, who played a minor but pivotal role in the show.

There were stories, the one about the aunt who perhaps prevented Hitler's invasion of England being one of the best, though it would be rivaled by the stories of his father's days as a travelling cinematic purveyor.

There were monologues, the most hysterical being the skit in which Father Din demonstrates the "has the priest gone mad?" style of sermon - or homily, this being the St. Johns' Irish Catholic Church, a point which it would not do to forget.

There was science, well, sort of science. This involved an explanation of the 'N' factor in world history, the business of the whole Teddy Bear's Picnic and the postulation of unknowns called 'X' and 'U'. The relationship of all these things has a bearing on the meaning of life, though whether it equals "42" as in the Adams' novels, is not something we ever learn.

Finally there was a quest for God, who made the whole TBP (see above) and did it randomly (a reference to the bucket), and who could stand (this is Andy talking, not me - I saw what happened to him when he took this line) to pay a good bit more attention to what is going on in his creation, IF YOU PLEASE.

Now I can't really spoil anything by telling you how it all works out, what the relationship is among the things I mentioned (which were all recapped many times just to keep us on track), but I will say that this was a thoughtful piece of tomfoolery, and remind you that one of the functions of a fool in the old days was to say important things in a subliminal sort of way.

Comedy, said the late Frank Shuster, is a fragile thing, and if you analyze it too much, it disintegrates. We wouldn't want that to happen to Andy Jones - and we do hope he recovers the use of his body before his next show.

top.gif

Photo Exhibit by Janice Cliff

by Catherine Woods


Janice Cliff bares her emotions at the opening of her photography exhibit. Photo by Dan Davidson

Cryptic, personal, obvious. Three words Janice Cliff uses to describe her first photography exhibit showing at the Odd Gallery until February 28. Walking through the gallery, peering closely at the tiny photographs, you may get the feeling that Janice has somehow gotten into your own house with her camera, and a lot of film. She has taken a photograph of your disorderly junk drawer, cluttered with duct tape, Red Bird matches, and needle-nosed pliers, among other necessities. She then moves on to view your lazy meal of Kraft Dinner left on the counter in the kitchen, the fork still in the pot. Opening your kitchen cupboard she documents a forgetful moment in the form of a pork chop. A cool black kitten is caught exploring your refrigerator. Luckily she does catch the industrious side of your life with before and after shots of an overflowing sinkful of dishes.

Wondering what else she could have documented? Try sexy, and assertive. Or sheepish, timid, unstable. Even hard-hearted and murderous. While these words may conjure up certain feelings and images in your mind, the process of visually representing each word was harder than Janice ever could have imagined.

As a graduate of Ryerson's Film Photography program she recalls that her professor's biggest criticism of her work was that she never really finished anything. And admittedly "life skills: feelings list" is also a work in progress. She intends eventually to represent, with photographs, all 275 words from her feelings list. Each photo is subjected to her ruthless editing process. Which for this exhibit resulted in 25 shots from her original 50. "The biggest difficulty I have had is trying to let go of the fear that the images alone aren't strong enough."

Janice used different methods to complement a feeling with an image. At times, she found she already had a literal, personal translation of the word from her own experiences. For some of the others she first stared at the word for as long as possible to "conjure up some sort of image to actually represent that feeling" and then took the photograph to match. And she's not about to tell you which method was used for which set. "Some of them are really, really personal and a little bit scary to have up there, but as long as I don't point out which ones those are, then I'll be fine."

The stark physical display of the artwork on bright white paper clipped to steel wire, brings to mind hanging laundry. Of something private now set out for the public. One of Janice's hopes for her audience is that each of us will find at least one image that strikes a cord or a makes a connection with our own life. Undecided? Trust me you'll be more than satisfied with your trip to the Odd Gallery for this exhibit by Janice Cliff.

top.gif

Bugs and the Art of Minh Nguyen

By Palma Berger


Toronto artist Minh Nguyen has a fascination with bugs. Photo by Dan Davidson

A bug?! Splat! Squash! And his life oozes out never to bother you again. That is our everyday attitude to the insect world.

Not so to Minh Nguyen. She has studied them, not as a botanist, but as an artist, and has found a world of shapes and design. She has created artistic compositions out of part or whole of a fly, for example, or a bee, or a bird, or anything small. Her work is on display at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse.

She was in Dawson this past week teaching a course on drawing her favourite subject. Her course was called "Lives of Lines". This was to show that anybody can create using just the lines. One did not have to be great at drawing to create. We were just going to experiment with a range of linear effects to express spontaneous ideas on paper.

This was encouraging to some who felt they had the imagination but not the practice to do great drawings.

This idea caught on and such a large number signed up for the course, in fact 21 people signed up, so there had to be two classes. A surprised Nguyen said, "What is it with Dawson? In Whitehorse, a much larger community, there were only eight who signed up."

How Nguyen came to be into making compositions out of bugs began with her early difficult years in an unsettled Vietnam when she and part of her family fled to the countryside for safety. There was no schooling, and she had only to occupy herself with studying the insect life and read. Many years later when everyone was reunited in Toronto, she studied art. It was while working at an art gallery that she began to notice the deceased flies collecting on the window ledge. She began to see the shapes in them. From this she created compositions. She brought some of these results along with her. We were amazed at what could be developed out of such a small object.

She brought with her a collection of bees, butterflies, flies, moths, and others. There were dried flowers also. But our purpose was to do a general contour drawing first to get the general shape and then to dissect our drawings; to find in them shapes or lines that really appealed to us and which we could develop further.

Our drawings were quite tentative at first. But then we became bolder, and soon some were attacking the paper in the same forthright manner of the teacher herself. As we began to create, just with a black wax pencil or black charcoal, enlarging on our chosen section, or erasing parts of it, it was amazing to see what both trained and untutored members of the class could do. There were interesting shapes appearing on paper all over the room. Nguyen was quite encouraging and could get right into our struggles and help us along, but never laying any drawing tool to paper herself. Encouraging those who even wanted to add a touch of colour to their work.

All too soon the evening was over. Many felt we could have gone another couple of nights. In fact one did sign up for the second class.

Minh Nguyen came to the Yukon with her showing of her work at Yukon Arts Center. From here KIAC was able to bring her to Dawson with some funding from the Arts for Employment funds. She gave a talk and showing of slides to which others as well as the students came. She boarded with Karen Dubois. There were enough students to pay for the instruction. She really experienced Dawson as she attended the auction for Peter Ledwidge, the musher, visited Bombay Peggy's for a musical evening with Steve Slade. She had been given some preparation for life in Dawson from her friend, Joanne Davidson in Toronto. Carole Legace traded a second class of drawing with her, for an extended dog-team ride as well as some traveling with skidoo which she thoroughly enjoyed. Ask Carole, and she will nod her head and say, "Yes I got the feeling that she will be back to Dawson another time."

top.gif

Jim Robb Celebrates Bombay Peggy's

by Dan Davidson


Jim Robb shows off his new print of Bombay Peggy's at Bombay Peggy's. Photo by Dan Davidson

Jim Robb was in Dawson recently to show off his newest print, a painting of Bombay Peggy's Victorian Inn and Lounge. Robb was autographing and selling copies of the print at the upscale pub on the evening of January 10. He's depicted it basically as it looks since its revival by Wendy Cairns and Kim Bouzane, but with a touch of the old structure.

Why did he decide to do a picture of this building at this time?

"I knew Peggy," he said while sipping coffee in the lounge on Thursday morning. "She was a very colourful person. She used to keep in touch with me.

"I recently came across a whole bunch of notes she had written me through the years. She was a personal friend of mine, though she never used to talk to me about the red light days or anything.

"Peggy took me through the building when it was more or less a derelict." It was rotting away in a swampy gully just off Front Street before the present owners got hold of it and relocated it to the corner of Second and Princess.

The other deciding factor was the way in which the place has been restored.

"I like what the girls did with the place, you know. Locals like it and so do the visitors. I like how it perpetuates the idea and the glamour of the building."

While Peggy's was many things to many people in its day, having been as ordinary as a home, as rundown as a storehouse and as risque as a brothel, it is today one of the most distinctive inns in the Yukon, with every room laid out in a different theme with a different name.

Robb just loves the place. It appeals to his sense of what can be done to preserve an old building and still keep its ambience. To him, the owners have shown the kind of enterprise and imagination that he wishes the government officials who manage our official heritage would demonstrate.

"Some of these early Klondike buildings and buildings in Whiskey Flats and Moccasin Flats in Whitehorse - if those walls could only tell tales it would be really amazing to hear about the different characters that lived in the buildings through the years."

Robb has also recently completed a print of Moccasin Flats, his homage to that era of settlement in the territory's capital.

"Every era has its colourful five percent," said the artist.

While Robb has celebrated his own cluster of colourful characters in his writing and art over the years, he says he learned long ago that there were characters before Wigwam Harry and Black Mike, and there will be characters in the years to come.

A former neighbour of his, Ed Whitehouse, was born in Dawson in 1909, and he grew up knowing a whole different group of five percenters.

"He was a history buff and he knew a lot of the Klondikers that stayed behind after the Gold Rush. He knew the characters of the 20s and 30s and he said they were amazing too."

Robb says he envies Pierre Berton the opportunity he had to interview key characters like Belinda Mulroney and Robert Service when he was working on his research for Klondike.

Robb is well on his way to becoming one of his own era's colourful characters. Hopefully there will be someone equally dedicated to preserve his legacy in the years to come.

top.gif

Klondike Sun Home Page