|ICE KICKERS...Two lads have a whack at breaking up an iceberg along the shore. The berg won. Photo by Dan Davidson|
by Dan Davidson
The fire siren sounded in Dawson about 1:45 on Sunday afternoon, signaling the first massive shift of ice that heralds the breaking up of the Yukon River.
Within minutes, the dyke between the old CIBC building and the Waterfront Building was crowded with people, ATVs. bicycles, videocams and 35 mm cameras, as Dawsonites and visitors converged on the area to see just what the river was going to do.
Oddly enough, the tripod which is used by the IODE to time the actual moment of breakup was not overturned. It had tugged at and parted from the cable that ran back to the old CIBC building, tripping the clock, but was still upright, several hundred metres downstream, heading sedately toward the ferry landing on an ice pan so large that a person could practically have crossed the river on it without getting a wet foot.
Joyce Caley, current Regent of the IODE, was on hand within a few minutes and, with the assistance of Jack Fraser, pried the clock from its housing to see when it had stopped.
"One forty-one," she called out, and people along the dyke searched their memories or their tickets to see if they had picked the winning number in the ice pool. Caley said she and her fellow IODE members would have to sift through the records at someone's home later on to see who the winner was.
The ice surged along briskly for about 20 minutes, snapping and cracking as pans and bergs battled for dominance in the current. Massive bergs slipped up out of the water part way onto others, and then shattered in the middle, collapsed by the weight of their own rotting ice.
The TransNorth chopper made several circuits up and down the river, looking for problems and apparently finding none.
Along the dyke you could hear chatter from young and old as well as the metallic crackle of voices coming from the hip-slung radios that seemed to be worn by about every fifth person there. Volunteer ambulance and fire department crews have been on steady alert since the middle of the week when there was flooding at Rock Creek, along with City of Dawson and territorial highways employees.
Federal people from IADNC (Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada) were present as well, though this is the last year that their participation in this annual ritual can be taken for granted.
The first movement settled down to a crawl and then came to a stop at about 2 pm, leaving the spectators to to wonder what might happen next. Water was still moving freely, but the ice wasn't. Would it rise? Would it suddenly flush itself? People hung around for 45 minutes or so awaiting developments, but when nothing had happened by 3, the dyke was pretty well deserted.
Movement was pretty rapid early in the day, as the jumble ice began to build up in the river opposite Saint Paul's Anglican Church. At noon, people who had spent the morning along the dyke were predicting it would go out that day. It seems they were right.
by Dan Davidson
"This is the emergency measures broadcast station at 91.1 on the fm dial. This is the update on the Yukon River in the Dawson area for Sunday, May 4 at 4:50 pm.
"The Yukon River is presently running free from Lousetown to Fort Reliance. At Fort Reliance there's a slight jam that we'll be monitoring for the next 24 hours."
The voice of Dawson's fire chief and EMO coordinator Pat Cayen repeated endlessly from the spot on the radio dial where highway reports usually originate. Cayen was able to control the content of the message and create a new one in minutes from his vehicle where ever he happened to be.
While the earlier blockage caused by the Yukon River ice bridge had cleared by late in the afternoon of May 4, Water Resources monitoring showed that there was a rise in the height of the river during the day.
Cayen reports that it had been rising about a 1/2 metre a day at a very steady rate during the previous week, but Sunday it came up over a metre, flushing the ice that had been sitting in front of the town and forcing the remains of the ice bridge to let go.
"We only know this because of the water monitoring being done by Water Resources (a branch of DIAND)," Cayen said about 9 pm Sunday night.
Sunday night they also knew that there was a blockage down river at Fort Reliance, which is just below the Han village of Moosehide, about 5 km south of Dawson. Overflights by helicopter had shown that the blockage of the moving ice was 8 kilometres long and that it was hard up against solid ice which had not moved yet.
Blockages are not unusual north of Dawson, but it was the backwash from a jam in this general area that caused the 1979 flood, so people do get a little nervous. It isn't breakup that worries people here so much as it is what happens a few hours or days later.
In the other direction, south of Dawson, the Yukon was full of large pans, but the effect was more like a dotted line: clear, pan, clear, pan, etc. This configuration is not unusual for this time of year, and it stretched back as far as the confluence of the Yukon and White Rivers.
Again, stressed Cayen, this information was available because of the flood monitoring program, which is now in its final season.
Both situations bore watching, so Cayen and his assistant, Keith McMaster, were down at the fire hall, checking out the city's boat and making sure equipment was ready to use. They planned to spend the night on the dyke, keeping an eye on things and preparing to sound the alarm if it should be needed.
It wasn't that things looked terrifically bad, but the situation can change with astonishing rapidity, and it pays to stay ready.
"We know this stuff," Cayen said, "so we can prepare. But we only know it because we've been provided with the information." He's not looking forward to doing this next year without the support of the federal department of Water Resources. Unless something happens to replace or restore the flood monitoring program, it's Cayen's opinion that the next flood season could be extremely difficult.
by Dan Davidson
The winner of this year's IODE Ice Pool is Kim Bouzane, a worker at the Dawson Women's Shelter. For guessing the closest to the breakup time of 1:41 PM on May 4, Bouzane carried off $1,651.47. This is a pretty good return on a ticket that costs one loonies.
IODE Regent Joyce Caley said, "She was away to India, I think, during the winter and came back kind of broke, so she's very happy."
Total sales on the tickets were down this year. Of the 5,000 printed only 3,126 were sold. Last year's sales were 3700 and they have been as high as 4900.
One other change did affect the size of the pot this year. The IODE changed the distribution formula so that the winner took 60% of the pot and the organization got 40%. In previous years it has been 75/25.
The IODE has considered the notion of raising the ticket price, which has bee the same for years, but they can't raise the price without being affected by provisions of the lotteries act. If they moved the take from sales to over $5,000, they would have to post security to match it. which would then require them to have security of $10,000.
The IODE uses its part of the money from the pool to finance its charitable activities at home and outside of Dawson. The groups donations last year break down as follows:
|IODE 100th Anniversary||$25.00|
|Snack Pack for Labrador Schools||$100.00|
|"War on Teen Depression"||$100.00|
|Victory Gardens (Dawson)||$150.00|
|Cadets-896 Pioneer Squadron||$100.00|
|Dawson Women Shelter||$50.00|
|Elisa Van Bibber School||$100.00|
|Robert Service School -- General||$100.00|
In addition, the IODE also gave donations to two Dawson fire victims and the school in Old Crow.
The mission of IODE, Caley says, is to improve the quality of life for children, youth and those in need, through educational, social services and citizenships programs. The ICE POOL is the major one of its two fund raising activities during each year.
by Dan Davidson
Rock Creek residents got a slight taste of spring flood panic on April 29, when the Klondike's rising waters invaded the main road that runs through the community, cutting off the south end of the lane where it exits beside the the YTG campground.
Members of the Klondike Valley Firefighters and other residents were activated by an emergency measures call-out at mid morning, and began patrols to watch for overflows.
At the north end of the Rock Creek road a half dozen residents had parked their vehicles to get them above the potential danger. One homeowner, who had decided that his car was already dead and in no need of saving, used it instead as a place to pile other things.
Steve Kurth said the motor on his lawn mower still worked, so he put it on top of the car, out of harm's way.
According to volunteers on patrol, the waters had reached their morning peak by about noon, without doing too much damage. By 1:20 they had receded four inches in the estimation of volunteers, and it looked like the worst was over.
The puddles at the north end of the Rock Creek road were extensive in size, but not too deep to drive vehicles through, even if they did kick up a bit of a wave on the way.
Pat Cayen, Dawson's EMO coordinator said late that night that most of the water was gone from the road after about 3:30 in the afternoon.
The Emergency Measures plan was activated during the day and overflights of the river were made to keep an eye on the situation.The KVFA kept watch during the night.
The Klondike Visitors Association hosted its annual General Meeting on April 29, 1997, to a packed house of over 80 members. Chairperson Pat Cayen commented "the record attendance at this meeting demonstrates the the KVA continues to be one of the most dynamic association in the Yukon and remains one of the most successful non-profit organizations in Canada!"
The membership approved the $2.3 million 1997-98 budget that will invest $215,000 in marketing and promotion activities, $70,000 on special events and attractions, over $1 million in local payroll and contracts, and $90,000 on capital expenditures, including $30,000 to complete the Berton Home and $50,000 in upgrading and equipment for Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino.
The $2.5 million 1998-99 Provisional Budget was approved and is highlighted by an allocation of $20,000 for special Gold Rush events, a $10,000 investment in the Guns and Ammo building, $60,000 for new slot machines and $35,000 to computerize casino operations.
The membership approved significant changes to the constitution that include the introduction of new membership classes and an increase in membership fees. Calls to review the Board election bylaws to broaden representation on the 13 member board were answered by the election of women to every available board position.
Elected were: Peggy Amendola, Brenda Caley, Marlene Braga, Vi Campbell, Lori Sprokkreeff, Elaine Behn, Margot Anderson and Roz Vijendren.
Remaining on the board, fulfilling the second year in their terms are: Giovanni Castellarin, Peter Jenkins, Lambert Curzon and Dick Van Nostrand. A by-law amendment sees Pat Cayen remain on the board as immediate past-chairperson.
"The membership has elected a talented, experienced Board of Directors who understand our community and its needs. The new Directors bring experience in community events, marketing, business, First Nations issues, tourism and education. We are excited about the fresh and progressive ideas that will be generated by this committed and talented group," said Denny Kobayashi, the Executive Director.
On the lighter side, one of the new Directors was overheard saying: "Look out, old boys... we're here!" as she surveyed the list of eight elected directors, all women!
by Dan Davidson
The Dawson Schools Reunion '97 Committee is looking for locals to confirm their registration in the event as soon as possible. The reunion is planned for the last weekend in May, beginning on the 30th and running through to June 1st.
Organizer Myrna Butterworth says that she has solid registrations from about 80 people outside of Dawson, and is pretty certain about another 80, but she doesn't know much about local people who will be getting involved.
Visitors from outside the Yukon will be coming mostly from British Columbia and Alberta, but she has one registration from far away Quebec City.
This will be the second time that the former students of Dawson's schools will have had a reunion, the first having been just a few year ago in 1989, the same year the new Robert Service School opened. At that time there a lot of interest expressed in repeating the experience, and a local committee spent quite awhile deciding just where to place the event.
"Originally we were going to do it in '99," Butterworth said, "however in 2002 they're going to have a homecoming and in '98 the International Sourdough Reunion is coming here and the Alaska Pioneers. So we were trying to figure out where we were going to fit it in. And '97 seemed to be the quietest of the years coming up.
"A lot of these people will come back again for the homecoming, so we figured we'd better give them a little bit more time to accumulate a little bit more money."
Why so little response from here in town so far?
"Well there's a few that have registered, but they always wait until the last minute."
The schedule for the three days is quite light by design.
"We found that last time we had some things planned, but that people were just to busy visiting to get around to doing." So the committee will include free passes to Gerties and the Museum in the package and mostly let nature take its course. Aside from the registration wine & cheese on Friday night and the BBQ on Saturday, the schedule is wide open. Lunches on Saturday and Sunday will be provided by the Dawson Child Care Association.
Reunion paraphernalia such as coffee mugs, T-shirts and pens will be available in limited quantities.
Butterworth says that this time out she's expecting a generally younger group than came in 1989. That crowd included a number of very old people, one of whom attended school here in 1906. last time around it was estimated that 450 people attended the reunion.
Dawson's schools have, over the years, included the Dawson Public School, Saint Mary's Catholic School and the original version of today's RSS, which first bore the name Dawson Elementary-High School.
The deadline for registration for the reunion is May 15th, but Myrna Butterworth knows there will be people a lot later than that. Probably most of the really late ones will be from local folks.
by Dan Davidson
The train enclosure outside the Dawson City Museum suffered a break-in on the evening of May 7. Damage was done to two historic locomotive engines and obscene graffiti were scrawled in the dust which covers the engines and display signs.
The entry was discovered the next morning when Museum Director Mack Swackhammer discovered the door to the north end of the enclosure ajar.
The damage was done to Engine #4, a Vauclain Compound Locomotive and to the #4 Porter Engine. The wooden cowcatcher on the front of the Vauclain was staved in on one side. On the Porter glass windows were smashed and a plexiglass screen walling off the cab from access was snapped at the corners as if someone was trying to get in.
The enclosure is a roofed wooden building with screened in sides which are open to the dust from Fifth Avenue. As a result the engines inside are always covered with dust. In the dust on the engines and also on the interpretive signs inside the enclosure, there were various words inscribed, written with a finger in the dust.
Most of the words or phrases begin with the letter "f" and suggest various anatomical improbabilities. Scrawled on the Vauclain locomotive are the numbers "666" and a number of crudely drawn pentagrams.
The Vauclain is supposed to be the only remaining example of its type in Canada. The Porter is one of seven that were built to be used in the Yukon, and was assembled in 1904 on Bear Creek.
The damage to the Vauclain is permanent. The best the Museum can do is to conserve it as it is now. Much of the damage to the Porter can be restored.
Museum registrar Susan Porter says that the damage to the trains is probably in the area of $1,000, but "the real significance is in the loss of community history."
She asks that people keep as eye out for people around the train shelter and let the museum know if they see anything out of the way.
Swackhammer says the problem will probably continue until the enclosure can be made totally secure. In the long term he would like to finish the building, putting in a floor, power and ventilation as well as electricity and a better security system. At the present there are just a few locked doors, the walls and the screening on the upper half of the walls to keep intruders out.
Over the past couple of years the shelter has been broken into several times, once by kids tunnelling under the walls of the building.
Unfortunately, he noted, there are some people who seem to think that public property is their's to destroy. This is a loss for the rest of us.
by Jennifer Heinbigner
On Saturday March 23 1997, at seven o'clock in the morning, twenty excited high school students and two tired chaperones gathered outside of Robert Service School awaiting the arrival of the bus that would take them to Whitehorse. At seven-thirty that morning the students loaded onto the bus excited about the long journey that lay before them.
The usual six hour bus ride seemed to pass quickly; before we knew it we were in Whitehorse airport checking in our luggage. Our plane arrived at 6:00 pm and we had to wait four hours at the Vancouver airport for our connecting flight. Some people had friends meeting them there while others wandered around the airport looking in stores and getting photos taken in the little photo booths. Everyone met at the gate at nine thirty and we all got on our next flight. This over night flight lasted from 10:00 pm until 6:00 am (Eastern Standard Time) the next day. During the whole flight, only a few from our group slept. We drowsily found our next gate and boarded our plane. This was a short one hour flight from Toronto, Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec. After arriving in Montreal at eight o'clock in the morning we found our luggage and boarded the bus that would take us to Beauceville, Quebec, by noon.
We got to Beauceville and pulled into the school on Sunday the 24th. There, we were greeted by the sight of a parent with an unwelcome home video camera. After 27 hours of travelling and little sleep we weren't exactly very photogenic! At the school we were introduced to our host families and taken to their homes.
That evening we went to a get together at Lucie Fortin's (Clint Brickner's host person) house. There we got to meet all of the Quebec people and see who was staying with whom. It was a fun evening of meeting new people and trying to carry on a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Luckily for us, our host people spoke quite good English. That evening turned out to be a pretty early one and everyone went home by eleven o'clock.
The next day, Monday the 25th, we all met at the school and got a tour of Beauceville and the surrounding Beauce area. We met the mayor, visited the longest covered bridge in Quebec and went shopping in St. George. That evening we all met at Catherine Vallee's (Ben Rudis's host person) house and had another get together. These get togethers became ritual and we had one each night we were in Quebec.
The next day, Tuesday March 26th, we went skiing at Mont Sainte Anne. Most people rented their equipment, though some of the Dawson people had brought their snowboards with them. We spent the whole day skiing and most people got in quite a few runs. That evening those who could stay awake went to Anne-Marie Thibaudeau's (Jo-Anna Davidson's host person).
On Wednesday the 27th we left Beauceville and went to a near-by dairy farm and after that we went to a Cabin à Sucre, or a Sugar shack where we had maple syrup and a huge brunch. The sugar shack was run by Lucie Fortin's grandparents. That evening we went to Audrée Vachon's house (Kevin McCauley's host person).
On Thursday the 28th the group took a two hour bus ride and a short ferry ride to Quebec city. We went to the National Assembly building and had a tour and we also went to old Quebec where we saw the Château Frontenac and the rest of old town Quebec. That was our last full day with our billets so that evening we went to Nicolas Cormier's (Craig McCauley's host) house and had our last get together. That evening ran until about twelve o'clock. There were probably more pictures taken that night than on the whole trip.
On Friday the 29th we all got to sleep in! This was a change from the usual waking hour of seven o'clock. Everyone arrived at the school on time but the bus. This was all right though because we got to see our Host families for just a little longer. When the bus finally did arrive we said our good-byes and started on our way for Montreal.
That Friday night we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and went and played laser tag. It was a blast! Then we all went back to the hotel and visited until it was time for lights out.
On Saturday the 30th we went to the older part of Montreal and saw some buildings like the Molson Bank, the Bank of Montreal and the Notre Dame Cathedral. After that we had some shopping time. Then we all took the subway back to Saint Catherine's Street, where we did more shopping.
On Sunday, we got up bright and early and made our way to the airport. Our flight left at 9 am and we arrived in Whitehorse at about four o'clock Pacific standard time. We then took a bus home and arrived back in Dawson city at about eleven o'clock that night.
Our trip was very successful and every one had a good time. The people from Beauceville will be arriving in Dawson on Saturday, May 31. We hope that they will have as good a time here as we did there.
by "Johnny Caribou"
The new season in Dawson brings with it a flavor which hasn't been seen in these parts in almost a hundred years. In 1898, up and down the bustling streets, thousands of aimless men paced -- looking for some sort of economic niche which enabled them to fill their bellies, feed their families, their teams or pay for their trip back home.
These men and women -- these entrepreneurs -- added a business flavor to Dawson which has helped establish the legend of the Klondike Gold Rush.
And now in 1997, a new stampede of entrepreneurs have arrived staking their claim just like their entrepreneurial ancestors in Dawson City. However this time round there are not the hordes of transport companies, dentists, doctors, lawyers, outfitters, gold dust buyers and sellers, and newspapers. Instead, a new generation of entrepreneurs are realizing the special needs of the town, gong out and filling those voids and laying claim to Dawson's future.
"People get tired of the boom and bust cycle of Dawson," says Tim Gunter who has opened 'Circle Cycle' a new bike business in town. "Opening a business is a way of taking control of the cycle."
Gunter is right. These new entrepreneurs have seen the nine million dollar Klondike pie spent here and are eager to have a slice of it.
"Competition is healthy," says Diane Roy, one of the new owners of River West. "It keeps people on their toes, which I think helps everyone."
Roy's attitude is reiterated by other new entrepreneurs.
"Competition helps keep things more in control," states Phillippe Bartholomus who along with Heidi Blieding is one of the new operators of Belinda's Bed and Breakfast.
"It brings a better quality of services for the people who live here and for the visitor," says Greg Karais the new owner of Harper Street Publishing, and publisher of the Dawson City Insider as well as the Guide to the Goldfields.
Karais is on the money about quality. These new businesses bring a life style improvement to the community; a better quality of life for us all living here. Ten years ago if you wanted something a little different, you either made it yourself, went 'out' for it or just went without.
These new businesses have also helped to add to the Dawson experience. Visitors can now jump off the dome with 'Grinning Adventures', buy chocolate from Brussels at 'French Kiss', enjoy a sub at 'Grub Stake', eat at an old fashioned horse drawn wagon, 'Curly's Claim', shop at a deli bar, 'Bonanza Meats' or kick back a lattee (incidentally the only place that doesn't serve lattees in town now is the George Black Ferry -- which will no doubt consider the thought and open up a drive through lattee service).
Perhaps its the ghosts of the great entrepreneurs of a hundred years ago which are mushing the new crop of entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. Interesting that they should end up in a town which was built by dreamers. Thank goodness that the winters are so long and people still have the time to dream.
(Ed Note: We realize that this is unusual, but you have just reached the end of a serious article by Mr. Caribou, who is generally renowned for his satirical bent. Actual inteviews were conducted in the preparation of this article and, unlike last year's season opener, all quotations are real. You have been warned!)
by Dan Davidson
According to Anita Roberts, the root of the anger that is so often projected by teenagers is a sense of powerlessness. Roberts, the program director of the Vancouver based Safe-Teen program, has been working with teens for over 20 years now and she says that this, at least, has not changed.
That combination of powerlessness, anger and raging hormones is mixed by our society into a mess that resembles a programed missile in search of a target.
Couple that with the fact -- and Roberts says it is a fact -- that teens are very adroit at pushing the emotional buttons on other people, especially adults, and you have a scenario for constant conflict with adults.
How good it is to see an adult explode, she says, because of something that you have done. For that moment, at least, you have a sense of power.
Roberts and her partner, Aaron White, were in Dawson to present two days of workshops to the grade 7-12 students at the Robert Service School. Their visit was sponsored by the school, the school council, the Dawson Women's Shelter, the City of Dawson, the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, the Downtown and Eldorado Hotels, Dawson City Video, Maximilian's and the Dawson General Store. That diverse set of sponsor organizations demonstrates the degree to which adults in this town thought there was a need to help their teens.
Roberts and White spent their days with gender segregated groups of young people, "adults in progress" as they like to call them, teaching them techniques for being safer from adults, strangers and from each other.
They spent their evenings working with adults. One session was with members of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in at the Tr'ondek Heritage Centre, and the other was at the Downtown Hotel, though both were open to anyone who wanted to come. The adult sessions focussed on reacquainting parents, teachers and shopkeepers with the problems teens face, the stresses they are under, and the ways in which the Safe-Teen program advocates they can best be approached.
Part of the session was a demonstration of the assertiveness exercises that had been part of the school program. Both Roberts and White start from the assumption that people are basically good, but that they get locked into certain patterns of role behavior which can cause them to become aggressors or victims.
Most aggression towards females by boys and men, Roberts says, is not really about the actual act that is taking place, whether this be verbal harassment, physical or sexual abuse. Instead these things are about power, about powerless people trying to dominate others for the sake of their own self-esteem and security.
People are more likely to fall victim to this kind of aggression if they present themselves in ways that seem to be submissive and make them look like an easy target.
Roberts teaches assertiveness as a tool which can cause a "transformation of the self", creates a "new emotional posture" that says "I have a right to be here" and project body language which says "I am not afraid."
"When we are connected to our inner strength and have the tools to communicate that strength with clarity, it becomes possible to move through our lives more safely."
White adds to this the notion that men are afflicted in ways that women have not been, traditionally. The extra angle is that men are programmed by society to strive for power. All the media images with which young people (and many adults) are most familiar project the message that a normal man has to be powerful.
On top of this, males tend to be discouraged from showing any emotion other than anger.
Powerlessness inspires fear, but men are never supposed to feel that, so it is converted in them to aggression.
White is quick to add that more and more younger women are showing this same sort of behavior, spurred on by role models that seem more and more male each year.
In dealing with stressful situations, the Safe-teen team says that people tend to do two things. Either they seek the safety of childhood by retreating into a little child posture, or they turn 180? the other way and react as a bitch (for girls) and stud (for guys). Both of these emotional and physical postures are mistakes a lot of the time.
A middle ground is needed, one in which the imaginative nature of the child and the strength of the aggressive persona we all have are channeled through a third face, that of the wise woman or wise man.
The wise person manages to assert individuality without coming to blows, to find safety in presenting a strong and dignified personality. Various techniques can be practiced and used to salvage situations.
One should not think, they told their audience of 60 or more, that assertiveness is about winning. It's not. It's about safety and self-awareness.
Roberts and White opened the evening by stating up front that any adult who deals with teens is facing an impossible job. One cannot be fair, consistent, protective and open at the same time as one is also the judge, jury and arbiter of a young person's fate. It is exhausting.
"Teens," said Roberts, "can make you feel abused and violated at the end of the day."
So part of the exercise this night was to share a few horror stories about times when you, as an adult, had "lost it" with a younger person. This was to build a bit of community, for it is something that happens to everyone. You feel better knowing you are not alone.
Their Excellencies The Right Honourable Romeo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Diana Fowler LeBlanc will visit the Yukon June 6 to 9. This will be Their Excellencies' first visit to the territory since the governor General took office.
Yukon Commissioner Judy Gingell will greet Their Excellencies upon their arrival in Whitehorse June 6. An official welcoming will take place at 4 pm at the Legislature with Government Leader Piers McDonald. The Yukon government will host a public reception from 4:30pm to 6:30pm June 6 at the Main Administration Building.
On June 7, Their Excellencies will travel to Dawson City for the Commissioner's Tea and the Commissioner's Ball. On June 8, Their Excellencies will stop in Pelly Crossing to meet with the Selkirk First Nation. "It will be a pleasure to have the Governor General in Dawson City for the annual tea and ball," said Gingell. "Since this is his first visit to the Yukon as Governor General, we hope to make it a memorable one."
Their Excellencies plan to meet with Whitehorse Mayor Kathy Watson and the city council and to visit the Cournciel of Yukon First Nations. While the Governor General visits Ecole Emilie Tremblay on June 9, Her Excellency will tour the Whitehorse General Hospital. "This is a great chance for Their Excellencies to see the territory and meet a wide rage of Yukon people," sid McDonald. "It's also a wonderful opportunity for Yukon people to introduce distinguished guests to our beautiful corner of the courntry."
by Dan Davidson
Just living beside the Yukon River doesn't really qualify you to be an expert on its mysteries, I guess.
A half hour after the break-up I'm talking to a local who's been hanging out here for 30 years. This is one of the few times she's ever managed to be on the dyke when the river broke up. The closest she's ever come to winning the ice pool was to miss it by a minute shortly after she moved here. Experience and longevity are no guarantees.
There's even a lot of guesswork to being prepared. People in the Klondike Valley know, after the last decade, that they are considerably more likely to experience at least some flooding than Dawson itself is. In town it's been 18 years since the Yukon River surged over Front Street, but it's happened several times at Rock Creek and Henderson's Corner in the 11 years I've been here.
A lot of the houses in the area are now on raised foundations, just like many of the buildings in downtown Dawson. Most for the year that's great storage space, but this time of years it's not so safe. So people up the valley go through annual rituals of moving their perishables and valuables to the highest ground they have.
I can recall doing the same thing with some of the stuff we had stored in our basement the year that we lived in government staff housing near Front Street. We did it with an edgy feeling that we really haven't had to suffer since we moved to our home on 7th Avenue, two blocks above the 1979 flood line.
Of course, that was them and this is now, and the drama is a little bit different every time it plays.
Some people like to push the envelop a bit. Like the guy who was running his ski-doo up and down the ice just about an hour before the surge took it out. Skidoos don't float all that well, I thinking, when the fellow who is telling me this story interrupts himself to inform me that drowning is the largest single cause of death in accidents involving snow machines.
Airboats can create a sense of false safety, with their ability to skim over flat ice or water. The crew in the boat on Sunday hit the water almost as soon as they could and skimmed around like they were doing a victory dance. Over the water and up on the ice they slid, gliding over to the IODE tripod to look it over. The ice had stopped moving by then, but the danger of it starting up again was quite real.
At the time I thought their act was a bit risky. Pat Cayen, the EMO coordinator who was in the chopper patrolling the river, saw more than I could from several hundred metres away. Things actually got more than just a little bit exciting than the crew had bargained for. Getting into the water was easy. Flipping up onto the ice pan looked like a cinch. But when the airboat turned back for shore, they had a tough time getting out of the river.
Cayen says their faces looked anything but happy as they buzzed about looking for a reasonably safe place to hit the bank. It took them awhile. Fortunately that time wasn't measured in more than minutes, because the river was clear just a couple of hours later. The middle of a jumble of icebergs is not the sort of place where you would like to have your luck run out.
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