|The poster to save Strait's Auction House, better known as the Old Guns and Ammo building, from the wrecking machines. See story. Drawing by Albert Fuhre|
by Dan Davidson
It may be the most photographed building in Dawson City, but that distinction is not going to save Strait's Auction House (perhaps better known as the Old Guns and Ammo building) from the wrecking machines if something isn't done to restore it within the next three years.
Yes, 2001 is the date being discussed by the Klondike Visitors Association as the latest it can wait before doing something to address the possible hazard the building presents.
For Albert Fuhre, who led the charge to save the building the last time it was under threat of demolition, these initial discussions are another call to arms. As he did in 1971, Fuhre is now attempting to raise enough interest in Dawson and throughout the territory to create a fund to save the building in some fashion.
For the KVA, which ended up owning the building after Fuhre's one-man crusade obtained it from its owner, Martin Dennis Victor III, the current issue is one of safety. If the building was described as unsafe in 1971, it certainly hasn't improved since.
Fuhre's own sketches of the auction house show the deterioration over the 23 year period from 1972 to 1995. In the first drawing Strait's might be personified as a elegant gentleman who has had a bit too much to drink of an evening. In the later sketch it is clearly more like a skid-row wino on his last legs.
So far the KVA has discussed a number of options, as revealed by the minutes of various meetings held between May 1997 and last month. Some of the possibilities are:
As yet, nothing is decided. The committee working on the project is collecting data, drawings and plans that could lead to a reconstruction or a restoration. The KVA has been directed to erect interpretive panels for the building, one to describe its history and another to make an appeal for the preservation project.
The site itself is to be cleaned up and made more presentable, while the anchor timbers currently helping to hold it up will be inspected and adjusted if necessary. But the year 2001 is still sitting there as an outside date for maintaining the status quo. Doing more than that is an expensive proposition.
Fuhre has a commission from the KVA to see what he can do in the meantime. Until the signs around the balcony were stolen two summers back, the building was best known by the "guns and ammo" lettering that hung from its second floor balcony. So the trust fund to collect money for its preservation will be known as the "Guns & Ammo Trust". Donations large or small may be forwarded to the Klondike Visitors Association at Box 389, Dawson City, Yukon, Y0B 1G0.
When Fuhre organized his last appeal he made it clear that no contribution would be too large or too small to be noted in the eventual wording of any memorial to be erected. A story in the July 22, 1971 edition of the Whitehorse Star listed dozens of names of people and businesses who had made five, ten, fifteen and twenty dollar donations to the cause.
That time, the citizens' committee needed to raise only $400. Any scheme to deal more effectively with the ravages of time, weather and neglect will cost a good deal more than that, but Fuhre still wants to see every contribution noted, no matter how large.
"It's part of our history," says the noted Dawson artist and graphic designer, "and we have to keep it as long as we can."
by Dan Davidson
Helen Winton, chair of the Robert Service School Council, isn't sure what recent meeting of school council CBC Radio One and Northbeat chose to report on on March 9, but she is sure it wasn't the March 5 meeting that she attended last week.
"I'd been away for the weekend," Winton said, "and when I heard this on the radio I thought there much have been some other meeting while I was gone." The March 5 meeting was a regularly scheduled monthly council meeting at which the agenda item, set back in January and publicized since, was to be a review of the latest edition of the school's general policy, known as its Positive Behavior Plan, in particular the School Wide Discipline-Intervention Cycle.
The plan, published in a handbook/agenda book distributed to all students last fall, contains a 17 point intervention program for dealing with a variety of offences spread over three categories. Adapted from a similar plan in use by Porter Creek Secondary School, the plan was due for a review before it was included in the 1998-99 edition of the handbook.
School council member Bob Laking says that one of the reasons the policy was up for review now was to have the final form ready for the printers in late May so that the books would be ready for the August opening of the next school year.
"Basically," said Winton, "I thought it was a very positive meeting about what could be an unpleasant subject."
She says that the 30-35 people there represented a good cross-section of parents and teachers and that the discussion was frank and useful.
Administration figures at the school indicate that 83% of the student population have no trouble helping the school live up to its motto, "The Very Best I Dare to Hope", and that a minority are creating most of the paperwork related to the discipline cycle.
Some people felt that these students tended to view the number of warnings they received as a badge of honour, but it seems clear that most do not.
Currently interventions range from an after school meeting between student and teacher, to parental contact, a meeting with the counsellor, a variety of in-school and out-of-school suspensions and appearances before the school council. So far this year one student has been directed by school council to seek an education elsewhere, but that is rare.
Winton says that the CBC story erred in a number of respects.
First, the meeting was not called as a response to any kind of problem, and had nothing at all to do with the recent vandalism in the community during which the principal's house was one of a number of residences and vehicles that were spray-painted on a Friday evening.
"The vandalism wasn't even discussed."
Second, the only parent quoted in the story was one who did not attend the meeting and could not have known what was said there.
Third, the meeting was a routine annual survey of school policy, not called to address any sort of crisis. If a large number of parents are planning to pull their kids out of school due to conditions there, Winton, who has three children at school herself, says it's news to her.
Finally, it is the council, not the school, which is surveying parents to find out their response to Discipline Cycle. This survey will continue over the next week and the results will be turned over to the staff and administration of the school to use in making any adjustments to the plans which may be deemed necessary at that time.
Robert Service School prepares a revised school plan every year and submits it to the council for final approval late in the second semester.
by Dan Davidson
Unprotected sex is a bad idea for a whole lot of reasons but, as Michelle Moonen told the students of grades 10 through 12 at the Robert Service School early in March, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases far exceed the danger of getting pregnant.
"If you get pregnant," said the representative from Healing Our Spirit, a BC based first nations society, "you still have choices. If you get AIDS you don't have any choices."
Moonen has been living with HIV since she tested positive in 1996. Prior to that the life she described to the students was one that placed her in a number of high risk categories, and yet it was a rapist who gave her the virus.
Moonen described her own life as having been one spent "looking for love in all the wrong places", in constant search of approval and affection from others.
Of mixed racial heritage, Moonen said she spent her childhood suffering from the taunts of those who ridiculed her oriental side, while those those of full oriental blood were no more accepting of her.
From an early age she was also sexually abused by a male member of her family, and really considers that her time spent on the streets as a prostitute later in her life was no more than a psychological extension of this early mistreatment.
At one point in her early adult life she pulled out of the rut, got married, had two children and had a number of solid jobs, but she blew all that away in her craving for more acceptance and more highs. She tried a lot of drugs over the years, free-basing cocaine and eventually sharing needles in the seedier side of Vancouver.
All this behavior was purely self-destructive, and she says she knew that even then, but she couldn't break out of it.
In her opinion the need that people have for love and security can get twisted into negative behaviors that put people at risk. She warned students against the kind of sexual predators - male or female - who infected her. They can, she said, be anywhere, and Dawson City's isolation is no guarantee of safety.
Moonen stressed that AIDS is a disease you have to acquire and that you do that by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dawson, she said, with its annual influx of visitors and summer workers might just be a very high risk place to be.
She warned that testing positive for HIV, the precursor to AIDS, can change the way a lot of people look at you. She has a solid relationship in her life now, but the disease has alienated her from her actual relatives, some of whom seem to be afraid of her.
Perhaps the most unusual piece of information that she shared with the students is that the progress of HIV varies greatly from one individual to another. The mutated virus and the defences that the body attempts to erect against it are so individual that an AIDS sufferer could actually catch a second strain of the disease if he or she were to have unprotected sex with someone else who had the virus.
The students appeared to be quite interested in her talk and many indicated later that they were impressed with her candour and courage. Moonen came to Dawson under the auspices of the AIDS Yukon Alliance and the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation.
by Glenda Millar
An emergency meeting was called by the remaining executive of the Humane Society on March 4 and a remarkable number of people attended to show their support and to help form the new board of directors. Discussion included the history of the society, the new location for the animal shelter and clinic and the CDF monies awarded for the development of this location. The new board was elected and they include: president - Karen McWilliam, vice-President - Aedes Scheer, secretary -Chera Hunchuk, treasurer - John Tyrell, directors -Nick Timms, Gudrun Manns, Wendy Cairns.
Plans are in to works for committees to be formed for the various projects and work required and it looks like the Humane Society is on its way to a productive year. Watch for the times and locations of the upcoming meetings and if you can lend a helping hand in any way, they would love to have it.
by Dan Davidson
Waste management is going to cost all Dawsonites just a little bit more on their utility bills if the the municipality's current proposal for rates gets to the bylaw stage. So far, after discussions with the chamber of commerce and two public meetings, the city doesn't have a bylaw drafted, but Mayor Glenn Everitt thinks it's getting close. He has until March 16 to make the rounds of the business community with the city's proposal.
If it passes muster, Dawson can expect to see the following changes implemented this summer.
"Those people will also have to separate their trash," Everitt says, even though they haul it themselves.
He notes that some people who don't live in town have said this isn't fair, but council feels otherwise. Collection costs are covered through taxes for those inside city limits. Those who don't pay taxes to the town have to expect to haul their own garbage but also should have to help make the best use of the dump, he says.
At meetings there had been some discussion about having variable rates based on volumes of garbage, but the city administration feels this would be very hard to administrate. There would be too much time spent figuring out individual charges.
The $75 annual fee is based on the amount of money the city feels it must spend to run the landfill with a person on site, about $80,000/year. Everitt figures it works out to 20 cents a day per household and business for waste management.
There hasn't been any decision about hours of operation yet, but the general tone of the discussion at the last public meeting was that the dump does need set hours, a site manager and a gate if it is to be kept in a properly organized state. Otherwise, most speakers felt that it would quickly return to the mess it used to be in.
by Dan Davidson
"Police are only as good as the citizens of a community want them to be," said Sgt. John Taylor when he addressed the students at Robert Service School on March 3. The head of the Dawson detachment of the RCMP was in the school to talk about Crimestoppers, and he wanted to get across to the students the message that they too have a responsibility in preventing crime.
Over the last year, Taylor told the students, Dawson has had a rash of crime, some serious, some just petty nuisance stuff, but all of it illegal, and most of it crimes where the community could help to find a culprit. People are shy about doing this, Taylor said, for a variety of reasons.
"Lots of people aren't happy (about crime in the community), but hold off reporting due to peer pressure, social pressure or fear."
Crimestoppers, he told the students, offers a person the option of reporting a crime without anyone knowing they did it. It is a completely anonymous service which assists the police but is not run by them.
In Dawson a call to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (or 222-TIPS) puts you in touch with volunteers in Whitehorse who run the line and take the information you provide. You are given an identification number and that is the only way that anyone can refer to you since you do not have to give your name. You can use the ID number to check from time to time to see if the information you gave has resulted in an arrest or conviction.
If this is the case the independent evaluation board will decide what your tip was worth in terms of a cash reward. You can decide to arrange to accept the reward, or chose to donate it to some worthy cause if you like. "The program works," he said, "because no one knows who you are. It has been very successful where it is used."
Taylor told the students that making a healthy community is a partnership affair, and that its takes more than law enforcement officials to do the job.
"Our office," he said, "is your office. I do encourage you to come in and see us."
by Dan Davidson
At the end of their set Laura Oltman and Michael Newman took the stage with but one guitar between them and performed a tricky little set piece by the Elizabethan composer John Dowland entitled "Galliard for Two to Play Upon One Instrument". It's a fascinating little conceit that involves intricate fingering on a fret board scarcely wide enough for one hand.
Just when we think we've got it all figured out - he's doing the bass lines and she's doing the treble - they switch parts, crossing fingering and plucking back and forth until you wonder how they don't get tangled up.
That's just a more concentrated variation of what they spent the entire performance doing, sending notes back and forth across the tiny stage from one instrument to another, one opening a phrase and the other finishing it or playing its counterpoint. Reaching the end of an intense run of notes they would pause together, take a deep breath and, with a quick glance at each other, launch into the next sequence.
The evening concert was neatly divided in two sections, the first concentrating on the work of various masters of the South American tango form, especially Astor Piazzolla, while the second focussed on the work of the Spanish composer Isaac AlbÈniz.
The wooden stage erected in the Visitors Reception Centre was no grand affair, so narrow it caused Newman to refer to their encore performance of Dowland as a "death defying high wire act". it was even too small for a bow, but it fit nicely into one corner of the VRC and was nicely framed by artifacts from the S.S. Keno, lending an antique air to the evening.
The atmosphere established in the room by the volunteers of the Dawson City Music Festival Society, who organized this concert, was warm and congenial, a civilized coffee house complete with goodies.
Newman and Oltman knew what they were getting into. They've performed in this venue before as well as elsewhere on their two previous trips to Dawson. They were not even bothered by the ten degree difference between their warm-up room and the main hall. It did send their guitars out of tune for a minute as the second half of the show began, but that provided a photo opportunity for the press, who snapped away while they tuned. "It does look just like playing, doesn't it?" Newman quipped.
This is their fifth trip to the Yukon and Alaska, an area they like to visit for a bit of a working vacation. They spent part of their day skiing on the Yukon River, a bit of an adventure for two musicians from New Jersey, where the ice on the Delaware River is much less substantial.
The only danger they've encountered in the north is the extremities of dry heat and cold, which can play havoc with the delicate wood of their handmade guitars. Newman's once cracked all round the back of the instrument, leaving him in Haines without a hope of immediate rescue, or so he thought. Luckily the local bank manager was something of an instrument maker himself, and managed to repair the guitar for him.
He figures this could only happen in the North. Most bankers in his area would be more interested in floating a loan for a new guitar.
by Palma Berger
Fred and I found that being Mr. & Mrs. Yukon means not only are we remembered for our years in the Yukon, but we represent the memories of so many people who either interacted with us or were around in our time. One heard quite often, "Yes, when you were doing so and so, I was at this stage in my life." Of course being the Yukon, most people are interconnected in so many ways. People we spoke to remembered what they and what soandso were doing back when.
Our time spent in Whitehorse at the Sourdough Rendezvous as guests of the Rendezvous Committee and Yukon Order of Pioneers was fun but it was also like opening a favourite book to be reread. It began at the meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Pioneers where we were presented with our sashes. Penny Sipple who is Pat Webster's aunt, arranged for our receiving the sashes. At the gathering of the Women's Auxiliary and Whitehorse Pioneers I met three people with whom I had done a Kindergarten course 25 years or more ago, as well as Pioneer members, as in Tony Hanulik, the President of the Whitehorse Pioneers, Laurent Cyr and wife Corinne, Lloyd Ryder, and Gordon Ryder. (Gordon Ryder asking after Don Neff.)
Former Mrs. Yukons Betty Taylor (1986 with husband Charlie); Mrs. Zoe Cousins 96 years old this summer (1979 with husband Bob) and the 1997 Mr. And Mrs Yukon, Bobbie and Ray Magnussen. As the week rolled on and we attended other events we were to meet up with these people again.
At the afternoon tea organised by the Ladies of the Royal Purple at the Elk's Lodge, we and the Queen candidates were in attendance. Fred whom you may think of as shy, had to escort these lovely young candidates around the hall, a pair at a time. He started off with a sort of a smile but by the end was grinning broadly and happily.
Again we met people we have not seen for years. Elizabeth InnesTaylor looked happy and relaxed; Pete Sudyeko (our Fullerbrush man for many years) and wife Marlene Margaret and Pete Erickson and Pearl and Doug Bell were also there. At the fashion show one night at F.H.Collins we spotted Joan Berriman.
The period costumes were lovely. One model gave full credit to Dawson City Museum for researching the details of the walking outfit she sewed and modelled. Another familiar face was there in Mark Smith who was the M.C. for the evening. Mark welcomed Mayor Glenn Everett 'who comes from Dawson City. Dawson is not as big as Whitehorse, but the mayor makes up for it in attitude. Watch for the Corporate Challenge on Saturday.'
Zoe Cousins won the award for the best costume from the audience. Betty Taylor (who was born a McLelland in Dawson City) modelled the original coat of her motherinlaw. It was beige in colour with layers of cape and with lace in the front. It was in magnificent condition considering it came from the early 1900's. At afternoon tea at McCauley Lodge we met up with Mattie Chapman who had lived in Dawson and who was the second Mrs. Yukon. Hazel and Jack Meloy of Dawson were the first back in 1971.
The night of the Civic Dinner with Mayoress Kathy Watson revealed there is no solidarity among the councillors in Whitehorse. Bribery and coercion goes on. The Keystone Kops dropped in on the evening dinner at the Yukon Inn. Although completely unbelievable in appearance, (one was 5' high with the helmet dropping over his/her forehead and I believe held up by the huge hoop earrings.), the Kops had power. They were going to take Mayoress Watson away, but she was able to slip them $10.00 to take Councillor Al Jacobs; instead he upped the ante. The Kops took them both away.
The luncheon at the Westmark Whitehorse courtesy of Holland AmericaWestours Inc. was ably hosted by Dawson's effervescent Wendy Burns who introduced the Queen candidates as they modelled different outfits. The evening at the Art centre for a Lyp Sync revealed that Whitehorse has as good talent as Dawson. The can can dancers who appear everywhere turned up here also. Those girls are very well trained, never out of step, never looking tired, despite having to appear at many places over the week One evening we looked in at the Lions gambling at the Yukon Inn. Corina Butterworth, Mike Telep and wife and George Pohlman were there. It was as if we had never left Dawson.
At the Rotarian Luncheon Mrs Yukon's garter was raffled off, and won by axCommissioner Art Pearson. This was an agonising time for the candidates as they each had to come to the microphone and when there pull a title from a hat and speak on that subject for a few minutes. But they all did well as they all acted so naturally that they won applause for quick thinking and good presentation.
We also attended the Fiddlers show at the Arts centre. Rusty Reid and her group played as did the young and talented fiddlers of Whitehorse. They were followed by Cam Wilson (violin) and Andy Hillhouse (guitar) participants in the Frostbite Festival, and fabulous. We enjoyed this so much that we unfortunately did not get to the Mt. McIntyre Centre in time to see the contest of talent as part of the corporate challenge. But two of the ushers we met at the door said that the Dawson group was definitely the best, but they did not win.
On the Saturday was the athletic part of the Corporate Challenge. Dawson's finest had challenged Whitehorse. Whitehorse looked as if it was not going to respond, but Lake LeBerge Marj (Marj Eschak) and NancyLou Huston (nee Firth) got a team together. Faro sent their team also.
It was a sunny warm day, but Whitehorse put on its usual breeze, so they had a cool Third and Main Street to carry out their challenge. Dawson won the Bed Frame Race. Their rejoicing with "We're the best in bed. We're the best in bed." may have given some onlookers the wrong impression. Faro won overall, thus proving they may be down economically but certainly are not down in spirits.
The Saturday night was the highlight of the Rendezvous week with the crowning of the Rendezvous Queen at the Arts Centre. The Queen candidates with whom we had become so friendly looked great on stage and we felt proud to have been sharing the week with them. Fred and I were presented with a plaque naming us as Mr. & Mrs. Yukon.
The only glitch to the evening as far as I was concerned was Mayor Glen Everitt. He was asked to come on stage to pull the winning tickets for the raffle. Out of the thousands of tickets in the barrel he could not lay his hand on any one of the many, many tickets that had our names. How could he? We had thought we had inside pull there.
On the Sunday was the wind up of a great Sourdough Rendezvous week with the parade. The Queen candidates were on a truck but Mr. & Mrs. Yukon travelled in state in the 1927 Model T Ford driven by Moe Grant. Again Whitehorse put on a warm and sunny day and so many people came out to view the parade that we ran out of candies to toss the onlookers. Myrna Butterworth had warned us that when she and Les were Mr. and Mrs. Yukon the temperature had dropped to 40? for the parade. But not for us. Some events can go without a glitch.
by Dan Davidson
By late November the latest edition of the Lost Moose Catalogue had sold a few thousand copies, a bit fewer than expected, based on the sales of the 1991 edition, but still respectable. Sitting in his book lined living room Peter Long is unconcerned. It's mid-November when we talk first and he's looking forward to the mail strike ending and the onset of the Christmas season.
"Somebody called up today and wanted 8 books. That kind of thing is nice. The bookstore took a couple of boxes the other day. It hits a certain point and then it starts going fast.
"It's the peak time of the year. 80% of book sales happen then." Fast forward to late January. I'm getting back to the notion of this article, having decided to tie it into the release of the new book by John Firth. Long, partner Wynne Krangle and I have been bringing my original notes up to date via e-mail.
True to predictions the Moose did well over Christmas, selling about 400 copies at just the Mac's and Maximilian's outlets during that time. According to statistics in Quill & Quire, the magazine of the Canadian book publishing industry, 250 copies of a single book is considered a good run during that Christmas period.
Mind you, there were 20,000 copies of Another Lost Moose Catalogue out there to start with. They aren't all in stores either. They're warehoused in Whitehorse. Vancouver, Toronto and some at the printer's, just waiting for orders.
The print run was determined by the ultimate sales of the original two volumes. The original Lost Whole Moose Catalogue sold 5,000 copies the year it came out. They printed 5,000 more and sold those. Since then it's been on sale in a reduced size edition, packaged up this Christmas with the two sequels and sold as a unit.
Another Lost Moose Catalogue came out 1991 and sold 10,000 in nine months, then another 10,000 in eighteen. There is a third run of 5,000 still on sale. When the Lost Moose group was faced with reprinting it they began to wonder if there wasn't room for a regional publishing company with broader aspirations that some of the small press efforts that have existed in the past.
Thus, in between the second and third Moose catalogues there were a number of other projects, twelve in all, ranging from cartoon collections to a children's ABC book and solid historical works on the Chilkoot Trail and the Mounties. In addition there were items of more local interest about the Whitehorse waterfront and hiking trails and an impressive collection of photographs from Richard Hartmier.
So this time around, the Lost Moose people decided to print 20,000 to begin with and bring down the unit production costs through volume. If the Moose doesn't move fast, it does move steadily, like its namesake, and personal experience with the book seems to count for more than advertising.
"It's a word of mouth book," says Peter Long. "We still get lots of people who tell us they've found the book at a friend's cabin in upper Montana, saw, loved it and want a copy of it. You get that for all of our books.
"I think there's a lot of interest in stories like the Moose. The reason we do books is because it's fun to do - it's enjoyable to do. As you're going along you get caught up in the energy of it. It feels like a neat book. There are a lot of neat stories in it.
"It's a nice feeling book. It has a variety of ways of looking at the community."
People do respond to that. Orders come in though every means possible. Lost Moose distributes through stores, by mail, and over the internet through its website.
Book stores, outside of the local ones, which tend to be boosters, are one of the most frustrating ways to sell the books. Stores in the south order a few copies in many cases, and sometimes they are returned unsold so fast that you wonder if they ever got them out of the box. Even if they do sell a copy there's no guarantee that they will order a replacement for their inventory.
So 80% of Lost Moose's sales are in the Yukon. How much shelf life does a book have? In the Yukon that's an interesting question. The population here is still far from stable, so there are always new people arriving who need to catch up on the past by picking up good books about the area. Then there are the multitudes of tourists who swarm through here each year. Long thinks the latter group is a good market for something like the Moose series.
"Our primary audience is Yukoners," Long says. That being so, the product has to appeal to the home audience. Extra sales outside of the territory are part of what drives the company to make good looking books, although most of it seems to come from the challenge. "We figure if we can do good books in the long run it's going to pay off."
Speaking of long runs brings up the subject of John Firth's new book, Yukon Quest, a revised edition of his 1990 Yukon Challenge. Getting that ready to be on the market in time for the Quest was a real publisher's marathon. Lost Moose's fifteenth production was also its fastest. By comparison, Whitehorse & Area Hikes and Bikes took three years and Law of the Yukon took one.
Assembling the latest Moose was a 2 1/2 year process. But then they were dealing with over 250 contributors, with each one needing to be consulted and stroked a bit along the production trail. Payment for being in the Moose isn't that large. You get one free copy of the book for each item that is published, plus, this time out, a spiffy Lost Moose t-shirt.
"The Moose is a neat medium," says Long. "It's a way to tell stories. In each of the Lost Moose books there have been groups of things that, taken together, begin to tell a story about how things are, how people live, what the distinct Yukon point of view is."
There's no set table of contents before the material comes in, although there is an attempt to ask for certain types of material: kid's stories and memories of growing up. The call for submissions tends to bring forth a lot of first person narratives, sparking a lot of autobiography and even en quite a bit of poetry. Not everything makes the final cut. Long says about 40 pages worth of densely set type didn't get into volume three.
The whole mass of material is broken down into sections controlled by various section heads and worked on by a volunteer staff that numbers into the dozens and includes both young and old. Mike Rice designed the look of the book, while Krangle, Long and Alison Reid coordinated the project.
The new Firth book was easier in some ways. As a reprint it had been typeset already and could be scanned into the computer before the changes were made. Patricia Halliday undertook the design of the book while Krangle and Long produced it, filtering it through the two big Macintosh computers in the home office of K&L (Krangle and Long) Services, with first drafts and dummy sheets emerging from their high quality laser printer.
What's next for Lost Moose? Long says he'd love to produce an equivalent sort of volume featuring mainly first nations material, not that there hasn't been quite a bit of that in the existing volumes. He's like to crack the Alaska market and even assemble a Moose-style book from that perspective. The group would love to publish some fiction, if only to gain some respect when it comes time to apply for Canada Council grants, but so far the burning interest in the territory seems to be nature and historical books.
By Ken Spotswood
Special to the Sun
Next to the Mountie on horseback, the old Guns and Ammo Building is the most photographed tourist attraction in Dawson City. That's not bad for an old wreck.
Most people don't know it by name, but once you've seen it you'll never forget it. It's the dilapidated old building at the corner of Third Avenue and Harper Street. It is leaning so precariously that the structure has had to be braced inside, and propped up outside by a series of wooden beams to keep it from collapsing onto Third Avenue.
It leans at such a rakish angle that it looks as if a strong breeze--or a sneeze--could send it crashing to the ground.
As a tourist attraction, however, the building is a peculiar irony. It's owned by the Klondike Visitors Association, which spends tens of thousands of dollars each year restoring and refurbishing other historic sites around town. Yet the Guns and Ammo building has rotted beyond repair, and it continues to draw tourists like a magnet.
The fact that it's still standing today is due to the efforts of Dawson resident Albert Fuhre, who led a campaign and saved it from the bulldozer in 1971. With the help of other concerned residents and a fund-raising campaign, Fuhre fought the town council of the day and won.
For years it's been known as the Guns and Ammo Building because of the "Guns and Ammunition" sign that adorned the east side of the facade. Unfortunately a souvenir hunter stole the sign in the summer of 1996.
It's original name was Strait's Second Hand Store. It was also known as Strait's Auction House--named after Ebenezer S. Strait, the man who bought the half-lot that it sits on, and who had it built.
Records show that the original owners of the property were James M. Wilson and Joseph Ladue, the latter being the man who founded the town site of Dawson City back in 1896. Ladue originally owned 160 acres in Dawson--practically the entire town--and made millions during the first years of the Klondike Gold Rush by selling town lots to the horde of newcomers that descended on Dawson, including Ebenezer Strait.
Historical data shows that the building was built by Strait in 1901, but advertisements in the Klondike Nugget newspaper show otherwise. It was actually doing business in November, 1900, possibly at a different location. Albert Fuhre is certain it wasn't on its current site before 1903.
"This Week We Offer Prunes and Peaches at 15 cents, Strait's Auction House, Groceries and General Merchandise" state the ads. To add to the confusion, the ads further identify "Geo. H. Meade, successor to E.S. Strait."
What is known is that Strait used it as his principal residence and place of business until 1910. City records show the store as having two paid employees during 1902. It's listed as the only second hand store and auction house in Dawson during 1902 and 1903.
During this period there were 135 merchants and traders listed in Dawson, but their numbers dropped sharply to 41 in 1902. The incorporation of the City of Dawson that year was undoubtedly the prime cause of the decrease. With it came taxes and enforced licensing of all businesses--and a whopping increase in fees, from $150 a year to $500. As a result many merchants fled en masse to Grand Forks and other communities in the gold fields.
After 1905 the Klondike valley was divided among a few large corporate claim owners. Population declined, and for those who remained there was a growing dependence on these large gold mining companies for jobs and--in the case of merchants--for sales.
By 1906 the owners of the surviving mining camps stocked goods from Dawson wholesale firms to feed their employees. The largest of these firms were the North American Trading and Transportation Co., and the Northern Commercial Co. Even then, the prices offered by the gold companies were barely above cost, and the profits of the companies that managed to survive were minimal. Many of the smaller firms were forced to close.
The situation was made worse in 1907 when the Guggenheims--the backers of one of the largest gold companies--announced that they would buy their provisions from the west coast.
While Second and Third Avenues had once been lively thoroughfares with stores doing a thriving business, the whole area was on the verge of becoming a desert of second-hand shops and junk yards. Some of the buildings were already vacant and the windows boarded up. The second-hand shops were jammed with the refuse of the gold rush: stoves, furniture, goldpans, sets of dishes, double-belled seltzer bottles, old fur coats, lamps, jardiniers, cooking utensils, rubber boots, hand organs, glassware, bric-a-brac silver, and beds, beds, beds.
One of the few general merchants to survive the heyday of the retail merchant was Ebenezer Strait, whose specialty was auctioneering and second-hand goods. In 1911 Strait's property was sold to the Dawson Trading Company Ltd., a company that was formed by Strait. For years he operated a second-hand store at the location, carrying all lines of goods. An early photograph of the building shows painted signs on its exterior advertising ëguns, ammunition, hardware, tobacco, furniture, crockery, clothing and tents'. And, of course, those delicious canned prunes.
Not much is known about Strait, but he was publicly embarrassed when his named appeared in a Klondike Nugget newspaper story on September 27, 1900, alleging that he had tried to skip town without paying a large debt:
"Yesterday T.M. Jones bethought him that he had not seen Mr. Strait for lo, these many days, and filled with concern lest perchance his friend Strait might be stricken by illness, he sought for him in the haunts of men, where he found him not," the Nugget reported in its strange prose of the day.
"What he did learn, however, was that Mr. Strait had become suddenly filled with the spirit of unrest, and had taken passage on board the Yukoner, presumably for parts beyond the border. When this came to the knowledge of Mr. Jones, he was reminded that among other reasons for thinking of the absent Strait and remembering him in times to come, was an unsatisfied account amounting to $2,060.
"On this account he asked his friend the sheriff to telegraph Capt. Primrose at Whitehorse to remind Mr. Strait of the matter, and if he could not recall it to mind with sufficient vividness to settle, to insist on his remaining a guest with him till such time as he could remember or desired to return to Dawson."
One may assume that Strait returned to Dawson and settled his debt as other records show that Strait left Dawson for good in the late ëteens. He apparently just locked the door and left town, leaving all his personal possessions and stock behind.
On October 18, 1918, Yoneda Okada, a Japanese who mined on Hunker and Last Chance Creeks, obtained title to the property, including all the merchandise that Strait left behind. The records of Yukon historian Victoria Faulkner state: "I think Okada used this mostly for a store house, but there was still a lot of Strait's second hand goods in it."
Okada held title until April 9, 1931 when Charles I. Tennant bought it. The property reverted to the City of Dawson at a tax sale in March, 1952. It was later bought by Martin Dennis Victor III, an American who lived in Alaska. Victor apparently made no improvements to the building and was the registered owner when the City of Dawson decided to raze the building in 1971. It had deteriorated to the point where it was deemed unsafe, and a fire hazard. It was scheduled for demolition.
When Albert Fuhre heard this, he was furious.
"When I first tried to get them to stop I went to the mayor, and he said to talk to the councillors, so I had to run around town looking for councillors, and I told them what the mayor said. I said if you all agree with it, then give me some time to save it. They said 'We'll give you 24 hours'. Well, what the hell could I do in 24 hours? But I tried," Fuhre said in an interview.
He made the rounds of local bars and started collecting donations. "Some people gave five dollars, some $10 and some $20. It was pretty neat. So the interest was there," recalled Fuhre.
He said he knew Martin Victor III who then owned the property. He phoned Fairbanks, Alaska, and eventually located Victor in Nome.
"He asked me what it was worth. I said you could buy a lot in town then for $400 and Strait's is only half a lot. He said how about giving me $400 and I said okay."
But Fuhre's fund-raising was still short of the asking price, so he went back to then-mayor Fabian Salois and the town council to ask for more time. They were more generous this time. They gave him 72 hours.
"The fire chief from Whitehorse came up. They were trying to destroy all the old buildings because they were fire hazards.," Fuhre said. "The day I got it stopped they had the Cat (bulldozer) sitting alongside the building, and everybody was just sittin' around waiting for five o'clock. I got them stopped in about three hours," he said.
Fuhre says Victor co-operated fully throughout his campaign. Victor sent the following telegram to Fuhre after a verbal agreement had been reached:
"To confirm our telephone conversation of this date, I am willing to sell the building and land known as the old Strait's Auction House. Legal description, Block H.C. east, one half lot, six, Dawson City--to a citizen's group interested in preserving this historic building. The price as agreed upon is $400.
"May I wish you success in this and in future preservation of the historic buildings of Dawson. I feel that these buildings are so vital to the attraction of tourist economy to the area. I do not believe tourists will be prone to travel thousands of miles to observe a city of historical interest that consists of merely vacant lots."
Victor's telegram was published in the Whitehorse Star on July 22, 1971, along with the names of the 66 people who contributed to the cause.
Fuhre says he had the title transferred to the KVA along with a little over $600 that he'd collected from people in Dawson--$200 more than was needed. And he says he's disappointed that the building has never been restored.
"The KVA was supposed to fix it up. That's letting the people down. They donated the money to help restore it and save it. It's the most photographed building in town. It has been for 20 years now."
Fuhre, now 67, still works as a graphics artist. Over the years he's done line drawings of the Guns and Ammo Building, with its sagging balcony and other interesting architectural features, as well as other landmarks in Dawson. His design for the Klondike Gold Rush centennial is the one that's being used on the Yukon Anniversaries Commissions' colourful banners that brighten almost in every community in the territory."
He said he used to poke around inside the Guns and Ammo Building before it was fenced off. "Right up until 1970 they were still taking all the antiques and stuff out of these buildings. There used to be a canvas lining for a casket upstairs. You could just lay right down in there and go to sleep."
Even though the building has been neglected, Fuhre says he's glad he saved one of Dawson's original relics from the past.
"I wouldn't take very much crap from anybody at that time because I figured nobody could hurt me anyway. I just barged in and went to the top because there's no point in talking to someone down below. They'd just let them bulldoze all the old buildings down. That was the attitude back then.
"This is our history," Fuhre said. "You can imagine all the hard work, chopping all those trees down to make the lumber. It just amazes me what they could do with what they had in those days. They had pride in what they did. That's why there's still so much of the old stuff sittin' around."
Most people agree, however, that it's the tilt of the old Guns and Ammo Building that makes it special. A replica probably wouldn't attract as much attention. While other historic buildings have been restored and replicated, it's the charm of eccentric relics like the Guns and Ammo Building that give Dawson City much of its character.
Dawson City's annual spring carnival, Thaw Di Gras, will take place in the heart of the Klondike from March 27 - 29, 1998. The weekend provides a hearty "Goodbye winter, hello spring!" for residents and visitors alike. Thaw Di Gras provides something for everyone. Young or old, big or small, you will definitely find lots of things to keep you active and amused throughout the weekend. The Klondike Visitors Association provides the framework for the weekend, but it is run by countless dedicated community volunteers and supported by local businesses.
The weekend kicks off Thursday March 26, with the opening games of the family hockey tournament. Friday afternoon will see the start of the Youth Scavenger Hunt, which runs throughout the weekend. First prize will be an overnight trip to a working gold mine, courtesy of Eldorado Placers. Friday night at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall is the Dawson City Music Festival's Lip Sync competition, the best of its kind in the territory. Get an act together, watch the show, and even play a few hands of cards if you're feeling lucky. Lip Sync entry forms are available at the Post Of fice. For the younger crowd, a teen skate will take place at the arena from 9 to 11 PM.
There will be a pancake breakfast / turkey shoot at the curling club on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, while the afternoons will hold a variety of fun events for the whole family. If you can't play hockey, get a team together for a real winter sport: Snowshoe Baseball! Call Vanessa or Charle at Tr'ondek Hwech'in to register.
Over on 4th Avenue there will be plenty of tea boiling, chainsaw chucking, egg tossing, smoosh racing, tug o' war, and lots more! If you have a pulse, Thaw Di Grass has an event for you! A new event has been added to the fray for this important year of the Gold Rush Centennial. The Trail of '98 Stampede will test your abilities to race on snowshoes, hike the Chilkoot, mush a sled, and stake a claim, all within the confines of one city block! On Sunday afternoon, THE RUSH IS ON!
Our canine companions will also play a big part in Thaw Di Gras this year. The Sunnydale Classic will test the best of local sled dogs, and the one dog pull will see who is the toughest (hungriest?) mutt around. If you prefer something a little more domesticated, check out Sourdough Sam's dog show at Gerties on Saturday. The dog show is being sponsored by the Dawson Humane Society. Come on out and show your support!
On Saturday night when the adults head off to the local watering holes for arm wrestling, canoe races, mummy wraps, and who-knows-what-else, the kids will be rocking at Gerties! The Youth Lip Sync takes place in the late afternoon, and then polish up your mosh boots as young sensations Undertow take to the stage for an all-ages concert and dance.
On Sunday, sharpen your kitchen knives and scrub your veggies as the 3rd annual Chili contest takes place on the parking lot between the Westminster and Downtown Hotels. Entry forms are available from Irene Davis or at the Westminster Lounge. If you prefer to just sample the finished product, public tasting will begin in the early afternoon. Then when you've had your fill, head to Moose Mountain for a free-ski day (ski rentals available) as well as Ski and Snowboard GS Races, and the ever-popular Dummy Race. The Ski Club will also be providing hot chocolate to warm your spirits.
Sunday winds down with the wildly popular Human Bowling at the Bonanza Centre. If you've never seen it before, you simply must check it out! Then head to Gerties for the wind-up Family Spaghetti Dinner. Only 300 can be served, and the doors open at 6:00.
The evening and the weekend will close with a fireworks display on the dike beside the Yukon River. This event is sponsored by the Klondike Visitors Association and the Dawson City Fire Department, with the generous support of Viceroy Resource Corporation, the Eldorado Hotel, North 60 Petro, the Yukon Energy Corporation, and NorthwesTel.
There is one other added dimension to this year's Thaw Di Gras: After the stellar performance by the Upstream Secondary Sewage Rats at Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous last month, a crew from Whitehorse will be in town checking out how we do things up here. In addition to the Rendezvous Board of Directors, they are bringing Can-Can dancers as well as the infamous Snowshoe Shufflers. So be sure to get out and take part - let's show those "City Slickers" how things are meant to be done!
Watch for posters and detailed schedules to appear around town in the coming week. If you would like more information on the weekend's activities, or if you would like to get involved, please call the Klondike Visitors Association office at 993-5575.
The Dawson Curling Club successfully hosted their 99th Annual Bonspiel February 19-21 under ideal conditions. Moderate outside temperatures and super ice conditions made for a great bonspiel. 16 teams from Dawson City, Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska participated. Curlers from Fairbanks were a welcome sight helping to make the 99th truly an International Bonspiel.
The 99th Bonspiel winners were:
A Event = Humphry Stephens, Fairbanks
Wayne Klippert, Whitehorse - 2nd
B Event = Clarence Jack, Whitehorse
Larry Burke, Fairbanks - 2nd
C Event = Dick Morris, Fairbanks
Bob Atkinson, Whitehorse/Dawson - 2nd
D Event = Dan Parlee, Dawson
Irene Nagano, Dawson - 2nd
Curlers were treated to a delicious chili supper, Friday evening thanks to Bea and Duff, and to a Saturday morning pancake breakfast by Bea and Lee. Saturday evening, both curlers and hockey players feasted on a banquet catered by Broad Shoulders.
Music for the Friday and Saturday Casino/Dances was supplied by Fred Silversmith and the Flying Squirrels. Thanks to the Dawson City Music Festival and Frostbite for cosponsoring the Band with the Curling Club and the Oldtimers Hockey Club.
The success of the Bonspiel is largely credited to the hard work and dedication of Bea Felker and to all the other volunteers who pitched in to help. Thanks also to Mark Castellarin for his efforts in insuring the ice was in excellent condition for the Bonspiel and throughout the season.
The Club would like to thank the local merchants for the break on prizes. Without the support, the Club would not be able to put the many great prizes on the table.
Now that the 99th Annual Bonspiel is history, planning has begun for the "Big One", the 100th in 1999. the Curling Club is anticipating the participation of many out-of-town curlers from the past bonspiels and the return of many former members. As 32 teams are the maximum that can be accommodated, preference will be given to teams of curlers who have participated in more than one past Dawson International Bonspiel. Posters and registration forms will be available in the near future.
|Klondike Sun Home Page|