Dawson City, Yukon Friday, June 8, 2001

Hats fly into the air as the grads of 2001 observe a long-standing tradition in front of the Palace Grand Theatre. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Cap and Gown 2001: Tears and Laughter at the Palace Grand
Robert Service Ends the Year with Smiles and Tears
School Break-in: Classrooms Visited in the Wee Hours
Voyagers Journey through History
Adventures in Frozen Gold
A Memorial for a Princess Lost at Sea
Freemasons Celebrate Their Klondike Centennial
Showcasing 25 Years of Student Art
A Film about a Film: Hammad Zaidi Returns to Dawson

Welcome to the June 8, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 54 photographs and 28 articles which were in the 32 page June 5 hard copy edition. Our webmaster is back from his vacation and you Sun fanatics can look forward to suddenly seeing all the back issues appear in this space. You wouldn't have been deprived for so long if you had simply subscribed.

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, which is about three times the size of our subscription list,. We'd love to be sending out that many more papers.

Cap and Gown 2001: Tears and Laughter at the Palace Grand

by Dan Davidson

There was no special guest speaker at this year's Robert Service School Cap and Gown ceremony, but there wasn't really one needed, since a number of people provided short addresses which covered a lot of territory for the 12 members of the class, 8 of whom had been together since kindergarten.

Principal Denis Gauthier greeted the packed house at the Palace Grand Theatre and offered some words of advice to the dozen on the stage.

"Keep it simple. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Set goals for yourselves. Keep them in perspective. It gives a purpose to life.

"Learn to accept setbacks. Learn from your mistakes and don't let the spectre of failure stop you from trying again.

"Keep a sense of humour. Be able to laugh at yourself and life will be easier, more enjoyable and more rewarding."

School Council chair, Pastor Robert Thompson mixed philosophy with humour.

"I am a man who believes in miracles. You see 12 before your very eyes. Many of you teachers would probably attest that years ago you looked at some of these students and said 'There's no way they are going to make it.' And there are some students here this morning who probably felt the same way.

"On behalf of the school council we congratulate you this morning. We realize that the journey was not easy. Many times there were struggles and heartaches, but a lot of times it was fun."

Thompson noted that one big change for the grad class would be scheduling, which had always been based around school and getting to that first class on time. "Now they'll have to get up at 7 o'clock and go to work."

Councillor Byrun Shandler spoke on behalf of the City of Dawson, and also dispensed his wisdom in a form which brought chuckles from the room.

"Now that you're almost adults, everybody will expect more from you. You're never going to be able to sit down and relax.

"Get a job. Life is better with a job than without. There's no such thing as unskilled work any more. You need to have skills.

"Happy people make learning a constant in their lives. Everything takes effort. Nothing comes easy. There's no free lunch, You always have to produce something to get something.

"Pay your taxes.

"Volunteer. get involved in your community. it makes your life go better.

"Vote. Vote again. You can really make a change and make a difference. Present your views. Work at it.

"Travel. You gain the best insights, you see the problems and you see the recourses.

"Make some safe risk choices. Getting to the top of a mountain is optional; getting home isn't. YOU make the choices before the situations dictate what you're going to do.

"Your mother was right: clean underwear every day.

"No matter what you think, your parents are always going to think of you as kids. It's a hard one, but it's true."

Mark Moir delivered an address on behalf of MLA Peter Jenkins. Jenkins' speech urged the class to prepare to meet the challenges of the future and thanked parents, teachers and friends for helping the class to get to this point.

"The education you have received at the Robert Service School will be invaluable in your career choices. You are entering an exciting world which has much to offer ... opportunities which were not available when some of us finished school."

Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell had travelled from Ottawa to be at this occasion, and had a message full of hard choices and inspiration.

"Thank you all for all the work you have done to get yourself to this stage. With all the advanced knowledge you need to get a job and the international competitiveness where you have to compete, you would never have survived if you did not get this education. Now you can survive and take care of yourselves, and if you did not do that the Canada would have had to take care of you."

Bagnell spoke of this own school years and of the ways in which his total school experience, both academic and in clubs and sports, had prepared him to face the challenges of being a Member of Parliament.

He warned the grads that there were a lot of problems - world starvation, global warming, international crimes and terrorism among others - that they were going to have to help solve now that they were were moving into the adult world. But he concluded on a rising note.

"You are unique. You come from the great Dawson City, the city that helped all of Canada out of the great recession of the 1890's. You come from the city of Canadian hero Joe Boyle and of Parliamentarians like Martha Louise and George Black.

"You come from the city where gold runs, not just in the arteries of the creeks, but in the veins of the people. You are the heart and soul of the Klondike, You are special, so go out and make the world a special place."

The choir echoed some of those sentiments with the anthem "My Own Special Way."

Valedictorian Rhiannon Juniper presented a bit of a class history and offered thanks to parents, fellow students, teachers and the community. She included a tribute to retiring Vice-principal, Shirley Pennell.

"Parents ... although we will never be able to repay you for what you have done, we will always be grateful that you were there to help.

"We, as students, were not always as eager to learn as the teachers were to teach, but I would like to thank you all for believing in us and helping us to get where we are today."

With breaking voice, she concluded, "I would like to thank all of you for being a part of my life, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it with you."

Area III Superintendent Carol McCauley presented Rhiannon with the $250 valedictorian's award from the Department of Education and addressed the graduates briefly.

"Graduations are exciting because we ... get to look back and look ahead at the same time.

"While each of you may be able to predict what you will be doing tomorrow ... I doubt if any of you know with any certainty what you will be doing five years from today. Nor do we. That is the mystery which you will start to solve by the choice you make in the days ahead.

"The story of your life from now on will be about questions and choices ... and how you chose to answer those questions, as each one arises, will become the story of your life, and that will make your life truly unique."

Jennifer Russell was the recipient of two major awards as the ceremony came to an end. The $250 Audrey McLaughlin bursary was presented by Shirley Pennell, while Mark Moir presented the Yukon Party's $500 scholarship on behalf of Peter Jenkins.

After the symbolic presentation of "diplomas" by the Principal and Vice-principal the ceremony came to an end.

Outside, there was much posing for photos in the bright Dawson sunshine, with the Palace Grand as a backdrop.

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Robert Service Ends the Year with Smiles and Tears

by Dan Davidson


This school banner, created by staff members, was made to display at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, which is slated to be held in Whitehorse in July. Photo by Dan Davidson

In Dawson the end of May means the end of the school year. The 2000-2001 year wrapped up on Thursday with the traditional awards ceremony. The afternoon opened with the singing of "O Canada", led by Mrs. Davidson on piano and the school choir.

After greetings from Principal Denis Gauthier, the choir presented a rendition of "My Own Special Way", written by Nancy Price and Don Besig and Mrs. Davidson presented the Choir Awards.

In January the school made video submissions to participate in the Robert Service Recitation contest in Whitehorse. The host organization recently sent the students copies of Service's collected works as prizes. Mrs. Davidson presented these to Mary Fraughton (Gr. 6), Robyn Touchie and Colleen Taylor (Gr. 7) and an intermediate group of Sydney Larsen, Lisa Perry, Mindy Anderson.

Sgt. Steve Gleboff was on hand to present the R.C.M.P. Appreciation Award to Leah Adam, who has been doing volunteer work with the detachment this year.

Marjorie Kormendy, handles the extra-curricular Yukon Tourism Education Certificate credit course. presented awards to the RSS students who took the course this year.

The Robert Service School Citizenship Award was presented to presented by Mr. Davidson to Mary Fraughton and Gemma Gould, two students who have always been ready to help out at the school when needed.

The Canadian Association of Principals' Award was presented by Mr. Dragoman to Matthew Webster as a student who shows leadership capabilities.

In the fall Robyn Touchie submitted an essay as part of the Royal Canadian Legion #1 Remembrance Day Literary Contest. her essay placed second in the regional competition. Her award was by Legionnaire Jim Reilly.

Each year the federal government seeks artwork to be used as part of the Canada Day celebrations under a program called Tattoo the Moose. This year, out of 300 submissions made by Yukon students, two from RSS were chosen to be used in the program. Grade 6 homeroom teacher Mrs. Castellarin presented prizes to Ashley Bower and Kyle Dickson.

The Robbie Bucks program at the school was started to encourage random acts of kindness and good will. Ms O'Rourke and Ms Rowe presented the final award of the year to Sam Phelan- McCullough.

Hard Worker Award certificates were presented to Randy Taylor in Gr. 5 and David Gammie and Brian Naef in Gr. 6.

The Versatile Glass Scholarship Award a $350.00 award given to a Gr. 12 student planning to continue his or her studies in a trade related career was presented to Nathan Wolfe by Mr. Gauthier.

The Masonic Bursary, a new $250.00 scholarship to be given annually to a student who shows dedication to his or her studies, is a hard worker and demonstrates a commitment to attendance and involvement in the life of the school was presented to Gr. 12's Rhiannon Juniper by Steve Gleboff on behalf of Yukon Lodge #45.

One time Masonic Awards of $100.00 each were presented to Nicolaas Jansen (Gr. 7), Melinda Margeson (Gr. 8), Natasha Burian (Gr. 9), Miranda Adam (Gr. 10), and Adam Roberts (Gr. 11).

The Pioneer Women of the Yukon award, given to a student who shows dedication to their studies, has good attendance and contributes to the life of the classroom and the school was presented by school secretary Mrs. Barber to Steve Kocsis (intermediate), Kevin Beets (junior high), Bonnie Vogt (senior high).

Ms. McCullough presented the Top Athlete award to a pair of Gr. 12 students: Matthew Webster and Georgia Fraser.

Subject Awards were presented by the Principal to those students who had the top averages in their individual subjects in grades 7-9 and 10-12. There were: English -Natasha Burian & Tatiana Fras; Socials Nicolaas Jansen, Natasha Burian & Jennifer Russell; P.E.- Natasha Burian & Wayne Ollett; Science- Natasha Burian & Bonnie Vogt; Math - Kevin Beets & Tom Claxton; Art - Natasha Burian, Miranda Adam & Jennifer Russell; Home Ec. - Caitlin Gammie & Milo Gordon; Band -Kevin Beets; Shop - Nicole Cook & Nathan Wolfe; French - Natasha Burian & Bonnie Vogt; Computers - Danielle Mayes & Kristen Cook; Welding - Andy Isaac.

Departing vice-principal Shirley Pennell inaugurated a new art award and plaque to help continue her 25 year tradition of art projects in the school. This also celebrates the selection of student work to be part of the Yukon's travelling and permanent collections of student art.

The Scholastic Honour Roll for Gr. 5-6 included: Gr. 5 - Mindy Anderson & Sydney Larsen; Gr. 6 - Ashley Bower. Mindy and Ashley were also o the top students in their grades.

The Academic Honour Roll for Gr. 7-12 included: Gr. 7 - Nicolaas Jansen; Gr. 8 - John Vogt; Gr. 9 - Natasha Burian; Gr. 10 - Miranda Adam; Gr. 11 - Bonnie Vogt.

The Mary Gartside Award, named for one of the longest serving principals at the school, is given to the top Gr. 12 male/female student each year. It includes a name on the plaque and a cheque for $200.00 given by the School Council. This was presented by chair Robert Thompson to Jennifer Russell

The Grade 5 and 6 classes took on the task of preparing a school banner to be displayed at the Whitehorse annual general meeting of the Canadian Teacher's Federation later in the summer. Teachers Tarie Castellarin and Kathy Webster presented the banner to the community.

The closing presentation of the day was not on the program. Since one of Vice-principal Shirley Pennell's duties for many years has been the organization of the Awards Day ceremonies, it was necessary to hide from her the special presentation being made by two students, Matthew Webster and Jessica Burian, on behalf of the entire staff and student body. Ms Castellarin and Ms O'Rourke have been discretely assembling a memory book for some weeks now, including photographs from this year and from Shirley's 25 year tenure here.

It was a smiling and tearful Pennell who thanked the audience for the standing ovation, the memory book and the conspiracy which ended up in her being presented with an Excellence In Teaching Award earlier in the month.

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School Break-in: Classrooms Visited in the Wee Hours

by Dan Davidson


The broken ceiling in the French Room at the Robert Service School was mute testimony to the break in the morning after the event. Photo by Dan Davidson

Teachers arriving at the Robert Service School for their year end non-instructional day were surprised to find that someone had been there before them.

Nearly every room in the high school section of the school, most of the second floor, had been entered some time after the custodial staff departed for the night.

In most of the room the vandals entered by climbing on the lockers in the halls, lifting out the drop ceiling tiles that hide the duct work, and scrambling between the metal struts that make up the wall dividers above the tiles. Entry to the rooms was as simple as lifting out tiles inside and scrambling down, usually ripping a poster or some hanging item in the process.

The inquisitive visitors poked around most in the Miss Wood's science lab, rearranging the contents of the drawers, playing with beakers, disassembling an anatomical model, and generally making a mess. Some items were taken from the lab, but RCMP, who spent much of Wednesday in the school going over the many clues, have asked that these items not be identified at this time.

The midnight skulkers also visited rooms used by Mr. Sutherland and Mr. Davidson. In the latter room they showed some interest in an expensive guitar, but left it undamaged.

The tour ended after they apparently fell through the tiles in Mrs. McCullough's French room which was the classroom most damaged by the visitors. Chunks of tile were littered about the room and two of the metal supports which hold the tiles in place were bent and broken.

RCMP investigators speculate that the clandestine callers probably left after visiting that room and making what must have been quite a bit of noise. Police indicate that they do have a number of suspects of young offender age in mind and are pursuing the case.

Most of the damage was simply litter and tile bits, though the lockers which were used as ladders have severely dented trim along the tops. The janitors had everything cleaned up for the next day, which was the last for this school year.

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Voyagers Journey through History

by Jillian Bambach


The Voyageurs have spent many weeks making this freight canoe. Photo by Dianne Marengere

"I think every Canadian has an image of a big canoe in the back of their brain somewhere. It's how the Canada was explored and all its major waterways", says Andrew Robinson, a member of the non profit organization the Voyagers.

It was this image from the Voyagers creator Halin deRepentigny, that the dream of recreating the journey of Robert Campbell's trip along the Pelly river came into being.

Campbell was an avid explorer and a tradesman for the Canadian fur company of Hudson Bay Company. His job enabled him to meet a lot of the native communities along the banks of the Yukon and its surrounding rivers. He was responsible for the naming of many of the Yukon's rivers, including the Yukon.

Over the last six weeks the Voyagers and volunteers from the Yukon have been building a birch bark canoe similar to Campbell's.

Rock Bovin, a member of the voyagers says the community involvement in the project has been great.

"A lot of people come to help from all over the Yukon and Canada. The young, the old, the ugly, they all come. They all put in a bit and it was enough to do the whole thing".

The building of the canoe has taken place out of town and has ultimately followed the footsteps of Campbell and his crew. Bark for the boat was gathered from the shores of the Liard, and the spruce was harvested from the woods.

"It's very archaic" says Andrew," the whole thing is sewn together with spruce roots. So when you run out of roots, you've got to walk into the woods, yank them out of the ground, wash them off and start sewing again".

"It has also keeps the old skills alive" says Claus Schytrumpf, also a member of the Voyagers. "Most of it was basic hand tools and simple methods. Lots of carving with knives and axes".

"Whether it sustains the trip is another thing", says Rock. " It has to take a lot of abuse and the Pelly has some nice rocky waters, but I'm sure we can fix it along the way".

"Most of us have paddled canoes, but having six or eight people paddling together is a different story" says Andrew.

The Voyagers are for the most part a male group, however, they are hoping that a couple of women who have helped in the building of the canoe will paddle with them. One is a direct descendant of Robert Campbell.

Halin the original coxswain and creator of the Campbell project unfortunately will not be able to partake in the final leg of the river trip.

"He was dancing and broke a leg, just a freak thing. The man falls off cliffs and gets chased by bears but on the dance floor I guess it just didn't pan out. I guess that's what you get for wearing new shoes" says Rock.

The journey along the Pelly is five hundred miles and will take up to ten days depending on the weather. Their journey will be complete by the first of July.

"The trip itself is undefined but it seems to be edging more towards the traditional fashion. The way we all travel in the bush with limited supplies. It's mostly going to be oats, fish and rice and I think the support crews are going to travel in canoes," says Rock

The funding for this historic journey has been a cooperative effort from the members of the Voyagers.

"We were hoping to get a government grant and funding from Dawson City, but all of this takes time and we are spontaneous people. The day we decided to do this was the day we started. To try to get government bodies to move that quickly is impossible. That is why it is being done on a low budget scale. This is one of those things you do because you love it, not because you want to make money" says Rock.

"Part of the desire of doing the recreation of Campbell's journey and the whole birch bark canoe thing, is that we don't really want to see tourism in the Yukon to be that whole gortex, dramatic TV oriented theme", says Andrew, " we want it to be very archaic. You know bannock and beans is alright, you can live on it and it is a very unique way of experiencing the wilderness".

The canoe will be entering the free flowing waters of The Yukon in a week's time. There is an open invitation for all the community to come to the Yukon's shore and watch the recreation of history as the brave Voyagers practice for their upcoming journey along the Pelly river.

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Adventures in Frozen Gold

by Dan Davidson


A very pleased John Gould displays the book he has wanted to see in print for the last two decades. Photo by Dan Davidson

One of the Yukon's oldest citizens became one of its newest published authors on May 25 with the official launching of Frozen Gold: a Treatise on Early Klondike Mining Technology, Methods and History, by Dawson City's own John Gould.

To celebrate the event, Gould gave a slide-show talk to a packed room at the Dawson City Museum's audio visual theatre on Friday afternoon. Among his audience were family, friends and many of the people who will be adding this book to the list of resources they use to interpret the Klondike each year for the tourists.

Museum Director Paul Thistle summed up that last group in his opening remarks: "This is something ... that I needed when I got here, but I'm glad I've got my hands on it now, because this is what it's all about."

John Gould has, of course, spent most of his life in and around the Klondike, and his family has been active in mining since 1901, when his father arrived here from the Musquodobit Valley in the Maritimes, an area which had once had its own gold rush. Arriving in June, it wasn't too long before he had staked his own claim on Nugget Hill, an area which the family continued to mine until 1999.

Robert Gould married in 1917, capturing the heart of a young woman who had come north to visit a relative for a short stay and, like many since, lingered on. John, born in 1919, was part of the family of five boys and a girl who were raised at Nugget Hill and in Dawson, where they would spend part of the year. The trip between the log cabin on the hill and their home in town was just 16 miles, but it was an all day journey by horse and buggy.

While attending elementary school John counted the young Pierre Berton among his classmates, but the Goulds moved to Burnaby for John's later schooling, and Robert Gould became one of those seasonal miners who arrived in April and left when the season ended. By 1936 John had joined him on those annual trips home, a practice that was not interrupted until the Second World War, when he became a pilot in the RCAF and went overseas.

It was his wartime training in 1942 that took him to Ontario, where he met a young woman named Madeleine. Three years later they were married, and not too long after that she was introduced to that same cabin where John's mother had settled in 1917.

Robert Gould worked the Nugget Hill claims until he was 80 years old. John has put in nearly as many years, but his time was interrupted by the 13 years he spent working for Klondike National Historic Sites. He was the first local KNHS employee in 1968, with the responsibility of training the tour guides. These were years during which he began to research the mining history which had so fascinated him when he heard his father tell about it. Stories overheard during meetings of the Yukon Order of Pioneers also whetted his appetite.

He has also been heard to say that reading Pierre Berton's Klondike had a big impact on his life. Certainly his life since that time has included involvement with the Klondike Visitors Association, the Yukon Historical and Museums Association, the Klondyke Centennials Society and the co-founding of the local newspaper, The Klondike Sun.

The list of local projects which John has inspired and contributed to would fill a newspaper page easily, but this book is one that has been on his mind for many years.

Having grown up surrounded by the remains of the original placer mining era and the corporate dredge era which came later, as well as having been part of the bulldozer mining which was to follow them both, Gould was in a good position to appreciate and collect information about the methods used to extract the gold on which the economy of this region was founded.

There are lots of books about the Gold Rush itself, and an increasing number about what happened to the territory and to Dawson as a consequence of it, but there aren't a lot of books that look at the process of mining very deeply. That's not John Gould's fault. He's had this book just about completed for some 20 years now, and it lacked only the finishing touches that would probably have come about as part of the publishing process.

It was not to be. He couldn't find a publisher for the original version of the manuscript, even though a number of influential Yukoners, such as Flo Whyard, went to bat for the book.

He entered negotiations with Stan Cohen, of Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., about three years ago. The Missoula. Montana based author and publisher of such books as The Streets Were Paved With Gold, Queen City of the North, A Klondike Centennial Scrapbook, and many books on Alaskan history, finally committed to the project last summer, during one of his annual trips to the territory.

Cohen specializes in picture books, and Frozen Gold has a bit more text in it than a typical Pictorial Histories publication, but he had already bent that rule with David Neufeld and Patrick Habiluk's Make it Pay! a few years ago, so it then became more likely that he would finally take a look at John's manuscript.

There are photos a plenty in the book. John had his own personal collection, as well as many assembled from years of research with Parks Canada, and the collections at the Dawson Museum and Yukon Archives. Many of these were part of the slide show at the book launch. Cohen has added to these from the substantial collections which he has tapped in his books over the last 20 years. The end product is an attractive and long overdue book which will, we all hope, not be the last project from Dawson's oldest historian.

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A Memorial for a Princess Lost at Sea

by Dan Davidson


Sylvia Burkhard (left) unveils the Sophia memorial.

On October 23, 1914 the Princess Sophia left Skagway bound for the south with 278 passengers and 65 crew on board. Fifty kilometres down the Lynn Canal she struck the Vanderbilt Reef and stuck fast. Had the captain admitted the need for help and the passengers been taken off then, they would have survived, but the captain felt the wind would drop and conditions for transfer toe a waiting flotilla of fishing boats would be safer later.

He was wrong. The wind became a storm and the ship sank in the night, taking all hands with her.

In his book True North, the historian William R. Morrison writes: "This was an almost unthinkable disaster for the Yukon River Valley: approximately eight percent of the entire non-Native population of the Yukon went down with the Princess Sophia.

'It was the worst maritime disaster in the history of the north Pacific coast - the region's version of the Titanic - yet except among maritime enthusiasts it is almost unknown."

When Morrison's book came out in 1998 it was still true that "there are no memorials in Dawson City, or anywhere else in the North."

Even then, however, the Klondike Centennial Society had the idea of a Princess Sophia memorial on its list of things to do, and the actual memorial finally became a reality on May 26.

A plaque bearing the names of the Sophia's dead now sits embedded in a wooden base, sits on the dyke, just north of the S.S. Keno, on one side of the gate in the dyke through which modern day passengers must pass to board the ships that still ply the Yukon River in season.

According to KCS president Jon Magnusson, the memorial was the brainchild of John Gould, who says he got the idea from reading The Sinking of the Princess Sophia: Taking the North Down With Her, a book Morrison co-authored with Kenneth Coates in 1990.

Morrison and Coates were right in thinking that the tragedy was both devastating and soon forgotten. Descendants of the those who died, like Sylvia Burkhard of Dawson, have often known little about the event. Burkhard said she had learned of it through the KCS, and was proud to be the person who officially unveiled the monument on that sunny Saturday afternoon.

Magnusson thanked John Gould for inspiring the idea, and KCS employee Kelly Miller for doing the work which led to this day's ceremony, which, for a change, she got to officiate.

Father Lawrence MacLennan, himself a descendent, offered the prayer of dedication. MLA Cynthia Tucker spoke on behalf of the territorial government.

"It's good for us, as a community, to look back on some of these tragedies. (It will) help us work together as a community in the future."

Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell spoke of how important the loss of those Yukoners had been to the territory at that time and how fitting it was that they were being remembered publicly at last.

The Deputy Mayor of Juneau, John MacKinnon, brought with him a name plate which a diver had salvaged from the wreck of the ship some years ago. It belonged here, he told the crowd, and Kelly Miller noted that it will be made part of the memorial.

Other speakers included , White Pass and Yukon Route's Gary Danielson, Masonic Lodge #4's Tom Mickey and YOOP representative Wayne Rachel.

Klondike National Historic Sites representatives Glenda Bolt and Anna Claxton carried a commemorative wreath to the river and, with the assistance of Tommy Taylor, launched it on its journey to the sea.

Skagway's Steve Hites performed his moving ballad, "The Last Voyage of the Princess Sophia", which he wrote some years ago based on tales that he had heard from old timers in his town. Interestingly enough, the last time he performed this song in the Yukon was also in Dawson, at the Robert Service School.

Surrounding the memorial at the Princess Sophia Overlook are four plaques which tell the story of the ship and its last tragic voyage. As one of them notes, any chance the Sophia tragedy had of becoming truly famous was killed just about a month later in 1918, when the First World War came to an end on November 17.

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Freemasons Celebrate Their Klondike Centennial

by Dan Davidson


The Cornerstone is consecrated.

As the members of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon gathered on Saturday afternoon for the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Freemasonry in the Klondike, it quickly became clear that not even the new and enlarged front steps of the Masonic Lodge (otherwise known as the Carnegie Library) were going to be large enough to hold them all.

The Freemasons had arrived in Dawson the previous Thursday to begin several days of meetings and special events being held here to commemorate their centennial, which was reported historically in the June through September 1898 issues of the Klondike Nugget. While that first June meeting was in a tent, it was only a few months before the Freemasons had erected a temple of their own. Over the next few years the many adherents of the fraternity debated their future and, in 1901, it was chartered as Lodge Number 79 under the dispensation of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba.

About six years later the Lodge was renamed Number 45 and issued a new charter by the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, which is the governing body today.

In 1933 Yukon Lodge #45 took control of the defunct Carnegie Library, which had been built in 1904 and used as intended until gutted by a fire in 1920. The Masons bought the building for $400 and have been slowly working on its restoration on and off over the years.

In preparation for this month's events the building received a new foundation last summer, while the new skirting and steps were completed within the last few weeks.

The Masons marched to their temple from the Robert Service School, where they had held their meetings, and assembled at the corner of 4th Avenue and Queen Street for a dedication ceremony.

Jack T. Harper, Grand Master of B.C. and the Yukon, explained to the crowd that cornerstone ceremonies go far back into ancient history, and originated with stone construction, as does much of the symbolism of masonry. It has been adapted to more modern methods for, while the Carnegie Library may appear to be a stone building at first glance, it is actually a wooden frame structure wrapped in metal formed to resemble stone.

So its corner stone is not actually part of the building, but a sort of cairn which sits at the traditional northeast corner of the entry steps. A special feature of this cairn is that it includes a time capsule, dated to be opened a century from its sealing, including samples of currency, a copy of the Klondike Sun newspaper, various documents related to this ceremony and a poem by a grade 5 student, Mary Fraughton.

The cornerstone was consecrated during an impressive ritual which involved the symbolic use of the mason's tools - the square, the level and the plumb line - as well as corn and oil.

The Freemasons pride themselves on being a benevolent fraternity, and did not leave Dawson without distributing a bit of bounty. Earlier in the day they participated at the unveiling of the memorial to the Princess Sophia (about which there will be more later in the week), to which they had contributed a sum of money.

For the Robert Service School, which had provided the use of the only hall in town big enough to hold their numbers, the Masons had a number of gifts. Among the annual scholarships distributed by the school will now be a $250 Masonic bursary from Yukon Lodge #45. The B.C. parent organization contributed an additional $500, which the school has divided into a number of smaller prizes.

The largest endowment, however, was an $8,000 gift to the local ambulance service, which will be used to help purchase a portable defibrillator unit for the service. At this presentation the normally voluble Canon John Tyrrell was almost speechless.

Their duty done the Masons retired once again to the school and later to a steak barbecue. On top of all this were the usual historic tours and Dawson goodwill which makes this town a popular destination.

The Mason's next march was the next morning, when a substantially reduced number of them filled the front pews of Saint Paul's Anglican Church to participate in the service, do a great deal of singing, and hear an amusing and thoughtful address by the Reverend Canon Neil Vant, of Williams Lake, B.C.

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Showcasing 25 Years of Student Art

by Dan Davidson


New art by the grade 5 and 6 classes brought bright spring life to the foyer at the Robert Service School.

What do you do when you're a retiring art teacher who has collected 25 years worth of student art from programs you've been running, and it's finally time to start cleaning out your files?

If you're Shirley Pennell, and you've been holding a student art show for years during Gold Show weekend, you ignore the fact that the Gold, Oil and Local Development show was canceled for this year without even getting a chance to try out its new acronym, and you mount your art show anyway, adding to it a gymnasium full of material that goes back to the late 1970s.

That's just what she did, along with contributions from the elementary classes and other teachers who have shared the art portfolio with her at the school over the years.

Current artwork was hung, plastered and placed in the hallways all round the main floor and foyer of the Robert Service School, but the big nostalgic attraction of this year was the retrospective in the gym.

The Friday evening showing wasn't that crowded, but there was a steady flow of visitors all day on Saturday, no doubt partly attracted by the opportunity to pay their respects to this teacher/administrator who is now teaching the children of the students she had in her first years here.

Pennell recently received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Department of Education. She was nominated by her fellow staff members, many students, and lots of former students, and they did it without her being able to catch them at it. In spite of several terms on town council, she has retained the respect of many in the community.

You could see adults wandering around the gym, looking to see if they recognized something from their past, or that of a friend. Even two former students who are now part of that staff had a quick look around for their work - and found some.

Pennell put up a number of signs inviting anyone who wanted their work to take it home with them. For years she held on to some of the best student samples to use as motivators for later students. When they said an assignment was too hard or could not be done, she often had something or hand to show them that it wasn't and that it could.

By the end of the show, some of the pieces had walked away, but there was still a lot of material on the walls as the new week began, and RSS's retiring art teacher was sad to think that its final destination would no doubt be the Quigley Dump.

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A Film about a Film: Hammad Zaidi Returns to Dawson

by Heather Robb, Sun Reporter


Hammad Zaidi (center - short guy) directs his latest film. Photo by Heather Robb

L.A. film maker Hammad Zaidi loves Dawson City.

"It's an awesome town," he gushed.

He loves it so much that he came all the way from the City of Angels-- twice-- in a five week span. First, in April, to attend the viewing of his short film Baptized at Lucky Lube, at the Dawson City International Film Festival. Then again, in late May, to shoot a new film--about a film maker named Hammad who has 72 hours to get his picture shown to a paying audience or else be forced into an arranged marriage.

"I was searching on the internet for film festivals," he explained. "I was looking for something in April, and Dawson City came up. I had no idea what it was, but I clicked on Dawson City, and it was in the Yukon. I started laughing, and I thought that would be funny. To go to the Yukon. So I submitted."

"When he first emailed," said Film Festival Coordinator Dominic Lloyd, "and told us he was going to come up for the viewing, I was like-- yeah, right, sure. But then he showed up."

Originally Zaidi planned to take a camera and make a home video of his trip to the Film Festival. He wanted to film the trip because he thought "it would be a place that not many people get to see." And he recruited cinematographer Steve Nelson as his co-producer, who accompanied Zaidi on the first trip. The idea developed, and Hammad decided to play himself in the film. Next he decided that a second trip would be necessary, with a crew.

"I thought I should do this right," he said. So on his second trip he brought along a support team of three-- including cinematographer C.K. Cates to do sound and camera work, and professional actor and stand-up comedian Tim Ozgener.

"I play Hammad's cousin whose name is Raffi," explained Ozgener. "I'm the comic relief, the one with the goofy accent that's supposed to be Armenian/Turkish."

"I know I can't act," admitted Zaidi. "So what I do is I give myself maybe one or two lines and I'll give Tim the bulk of the lines. I'm only in it because it's about me. I thought about making Tim me, but then he'd have no one to talk to in the car, and that would be boring."

While Zaidi plays himself in his new film-to-be, he insisted that the plot "is completely made up-- absolutely made up."

"It's based on the fact that when I graduated from film school seven years ago, my parents told me I had seven years to turn myself into a director, and if I failed to do so I had to be a good Pakistani boy, give up film making and have an arranged marriage. So the joke is, seven years later, no film festival in the world will accept my film, except of course Dawson City."

I've made it so that [the festival organizers] wanted to have an international film festival, but they've never had a submission outside of the territory," he chuckles. "So they accept it without seeing it, and to them it doesn't matter if they play it or not because they think I'll never actually come from the States to see it."

"It's stupid, I know," he said. "But it's funny."

Zaidi talks about his film making like it's the kind of project that derives energy from the process, rather than a preordained vision. His criteria for selecting a crew included professional experience but also the patience to put up with his spontaneity. "I wanted somebody with a very very very even temperament."

The effort expended just getting to Dawson, he suggested, created a sense of anxious haste that was useful in making the movie.

"We had to hurry, but that's kind of the point." Zaidi and his crew flew to Vancouver and then hopped in a car and headed North.

"I've done a lot of cross country travel, back and forth from L.A. to Nashville, so I looked on a map-- 1800 miles. I figured it would take us two days, no problem. But it's a different kind of thing. It took us four and half days... As the days went by we got more tired and more agitated"

They shot filmed all along the way, and intended to film on the way back as well. Highlights of the trip included seeing a total of eleven bears, and filming a fake CBC radio interview in Whitehorse.

One of the bears got as close as two feet away from their vehicle while they filmed it.

"We weren't very good Canadians," said Tim. "Hammad was like feeding it beef jerky."

"I wanted a scene with the bear, me and the bear," Hammad replied.

Their two and a half days in Dawson, where they reconstructed the screening of Baptized was another high point.

"We stayed at Peggy's. Both times I stayed at Peggy's. It's a special place. I love that it used to be a brothel."

"It kind of fits," he added.

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