Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 23, 2003

This Mammoth statue was created by local artist Halin deRepentigny and displayed at the Gold Show to mark the coming Mammoth Conference. Photo by Anne Tyrrell

Feature Stories

Dawson to Host Third International Mammoth Conference
Parks Canada Honoured by Dawson
Klondike Sun Enters Its Fifteenth Year
Barber Wins Education Award
Holy Hockey Sticks, Dawson!
Remembering the DEW Line at BAR-1
Access an Issue on Dawson Streets

Welcome to the May 23, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 12 photographs and 17 articles that were in the 20-page May 21 hard copy edition. Last issue was the first issue of our 15th year as a publication, though we've been online for only seven years.

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, the Fraser's Edge and obviously, all the other material you won't find here.

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. Since we went online in March 1996 our counter has crashed a number of times. The first counter logged about 25,000 visitors. The second one, which crashed recently, logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April of this spring and is currently sitting at 3130. About 838 people visited this site during the last two weeks.

Anybody Got a Loonie?

If every person who logged onto this website would send us a loonie, we'd be able to pay off the lease on our new laser printer in just a few issues. Seriously folks, since the beginning of this year there are more of you reading this digest edition of the Sun than there are reading the real thing on paper.

So far, one person has responded to this plea for assistance. But the response was a really good one. We'll let you in on the secret next issue.

Dawson to Host Third International Mammoth Conference

Submitted by the Department of Tourism and Culture

Scientists from all over the globe will be in Dawson City from May 26th -29th, 2003 to attend the 3rd International Mammoth Conference.

This is the first time that this prestigious conference has been held in North America. Past conferences were held in Rotterdam, Netherlands and St. Petersburg, Russia in 1999 and 1995 respectively.

The Conference will welcome 120 scientists from 13 countries to Dawson City for 4 days to discuss current research on fossils from the Ice Age. The scope of their work extends from bones and teeth of mammoths and other animals that lived with them, to mammoth/human interactions, clues to Ice Age environments, and the great extinctions at the end of the Ice Age.

New cutting-edge research on ancient DNA, and molecular research giving new insights into Ice Age animal diets, behaviour, and prevailing temperatures represent breakthroughs in science. Perhaps equally significant is new research in Russia demonstrating that in a few northern areas mammoths and their fauna survived well past the previously recognized extinction events of 10,000 years ago.

Much of the significant research to be reported at the Mammoth Conference centers on Beringia, the unglaciated area that spans Yukon, Alaska, and much of Siberia. Over 10,000 years ago the great glaciers of the Ice Age had lowered sea levels, creating the Bering Land bridge which connected the Yukon and Alaska to Siberia. It was here in Beringia that woolly mammoth, mastodon, steppe bison, giant beaver, Yukon horse, and camel came to be preserved frozen in permafrost, along with large carnivores including the giant short-faced bear, the American lion and the scimitar cat.

"This is a great honour for the Yukon to host this conference," said John Storer, Yukon's Palaeontologist. "We have received tremendous global attention from scientists and media interested in mammoth research and in this conference."

Three days of technical sessions in Dawson City will give an in-depth look at current research on fossil mammoths and their environment by researchers from Canada, United States, Mexico, Belarus, England, Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Denmark, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Italy.

The Dawson City Museum will be presenting an art display on ice age mammal fossils featuring George Teichmann and Halin de Repentigny, and a special full-sized woolly mammoth by deRepentigny designed especially for the Mammoth Conference.

Working with staff at the Department of Tourism and Culture, the museum will display fossils from the Klondike including the Last Chance Creek mammoth tusk. Dan Fisher from the University of Michigan will provide demonstrations on sampling growth rings in this mammoth tusk, to obtain a unique record of environment and temperature history.

The Danoja Zho Cultural Centre, Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation, will be the location for special free lectures co-sponsored by the Yukon Science Institute on Monday, May 26 and Tuesday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Dick Mol and Dr. Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke will speak on Monday evening about work on the Taimyr Peninsula of Russia, in a talk entitled "Mammoths by Land, Sea and Air."

Dr. Evgeny Maschenko of the Russian Academy of Sciences will present the lecture "Mammoth Bones as Building Blocks: Paleolithic Use of Mammoths at the Lugovskoe Site." Researchers have been speculating on the relationship between humans and mammoths in the Western Siberian Plain where human tools were found along side the remains of 13 different species of ice age mammals.

The Yukon Science Institute is a non-profit society that promotes public awareness of science activities in the Yukon. They also aid and facilitate scientific research and development in the territory.

A conference field trip to the Goldfields will round out the conference and give a view of both the geology and the Ice Age fossils of the Klondike.

The Klondike Goldfields are one of the world's major sources of fossilized woolly mammoths and the plants and animals of their time. Long-term co-operation between placer miners and palaeontologists has made large numbers of fossils available for research. Many of these fossils have been preserved frozen in permafrost and give added opportunities for molecular research.

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Parks Canada Honoured by Dawson

by Dan Davidson


Paula Hassard holds the glass trophy while Glen Everitt presents the framed certificates. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson's newest eatery, Mama Cita's Ristorante, was packed on May 13 when the City of Dawson invited all the employees of Parks Canada to lunch to witness the presentation of the first corporate recognition award to Parks.

Parks Canada, often know locally as Klondike National Historic Sites or the Dawson Historical Complex, has been through a lot of changes over the last decade, downsized, reorganized, renamed more than once, but Mayor Glen Everitt told the group that council had come to the conclusion it rarely gets the credit it deserves for working behind the scenes to maintain Dawson's historic look.

"I just had a visitor, a tourist, the other day compliment the Klondike Visitors Association for the fine work it did in preserving the Palace Grand Theatre," Everitt said.

"I had to explain to them that that is Parks Canada building. That's not KVA."

Everitt also recalled criticisms that have been directed at Parks from "the political arena down to a local level" over the last decade.

"This was unfair, undue and unjust criticism," he said, "and in a lot of cases the people launching the criticism were the ones that created the problem."

To Paula Hassard, currently in charge of Parks operations in Dawson, he presented a glass display trophy for the office, and three framed certificates designed to be placed on the three most prominent Parks sites in the complex.

All four items will have to be changed slightly, since the names change so often that even Parks employees have trouble keeping up and so the City didn't quite get them right.

The event was a smashing success in more ways than one. Everitt had to make a quick recovery when the glass base fell off the trophy and shattered on the restaurant floor.

Hassard thanked the mayor and council for the honour and talked briefly about the role of her organization in the community.

"Parks Canada likes to use the words 'Stewardship' and 'Heritage Integrity' to describe our mandate. It is true that Dawson would not look anywhere as authentic as it does in 2003 without Parks Canada, but it really was the initiative of the citizens of Dawson...

"It was a small group of citizens who brought the Historic Sites and Monuments Board here in the 1960s and triggered the massive Parks restoration program, beginning with the reconstruction of the Palace Grand Theatre."

Hassard said the credit for what has been accomplished belongs to the people who make up the Parks' staff.

"(In) over 40 years of Parks presence our staff have served on practically every board in town and have show true dedication and commitment to the community. To have Parks recognized as a good corporate citizen means to me that we have become part of the community and that is a heartwarming thought."

Speaking of behalf of Park's senior field unit in the territory, Gary McMillan also thanked council for the honour.

"I've always said it was a lot of fun to work here," said the former Dawson superintendent.

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Klondike Sun Enters Its Fifteenth Year

by Palma Berger


Madeleine Gould, Dan Davidson and Palma Berger are the remaining active volunteers who were part of the founding group of the Klondike Sun back in 1989. Photo by Anne Tyrrell

In 1989 a group of writers got together and started a community newspaper which they named the Klondike Sun. Being only writers they had no idea of all the talent needed to put a paper together. It began to seem that writing was the least of the business of putting out a newspaper. With the help of many, many volunteers the paper began to get a life. It was started in the days when the article was typed and the columns cut and pasted with glue on to our 'flats'. Many thanks to Steve Robertson of the Yukon News for his and his paper's many years of valuable guidance and assistance in getting some knowledge into our heads on newspaper production. Thanks also to local Chere Mitchell who shared much newspaper knowledge.

In the old days we did everything by hand. We created the ads by cutting creating, pasting and photocopying. We hand pasted the cut out articles around them or vice versa We often worked till 3: 00 a.m. (Kathy Gates was often later than that.) Many hands were needed, and a sort of comaraderie developed. But technology came to our assistance, and we now have computers, printers, our own photocopier, and programs such as Pagemaker, Word, MultiAd Creator, Internet Explorer and Illustrator and a couple of others. Submitted articles can now arrive on a disc or via the internet, and volunteers do not have to spend so many hours typing stories. So we have one part-time person in the office.

But one facet is still time consuming. That is the volunteer reporters spending time at a function or interviewing, and then spending the lonely hour or two writing up the story for that one event. Repeat this for a few stories and you know how much time is spent on the stories.

We have had some narrow squeaks financially. Our book keeper was brave enough to go without paying herself for a few months until we got solvent. Anne Saunders had a few late paycheques when she was in this office. Ditto the printer. But we did not want to push our luck with the latter too much.

Seven years afte we started out print run we were asked if we would assemble an on-line digest version for the internet. Our editor selects a some of the top stories and photos and our Whitehorse based webmaster, Richard Lawrence, puts them into HTML format. This usually happens just before the nest newsstand edition is due out. Richard did this for nothing for years, but finally started charging us a very small fee last year.

We have recently been blessed with help from the City and from KVA in the purchase of much needed office equipment. This makes for faster and more efficient assembling of a better looking paper. For which we are most grateful.


This photo was taken in 1991 by another volunteer, Michael Gates. These were some of the volunteers way back then. Back Row, L-R: Murray Matchett, Kathy Gates, Dan Davidson, Palma Berger, John Gould, Jan Couture, Colleen Smith; Front Row: Madeleine Gould, Evelyn Dubois, Sue Ward. Photo by Mike Gates

That just leaves the transportation. On Sundays, we (rather Anne Tyrrell, the office manager) rushes the 'flats' containing the laid out paper to Air North for transportation to Whitehorse, and Kluane Freightlines return the printed paper to us. We are always making adjustments. Thanks to Bonanza Market for harbouring our early delivered papers in the winter time and thus offering protection against snow.

When something does go wrong it usually does it very well For last paper the plane didn't land and after a frantic run around Anne found Carlene Kerr about to return to Whitehorse. Carlene agreed to take the paper. All was well we thought. But no. Carlene and family arrived home at 1:00 a.m. to find the furnace out and pipes burst. That of course became their priority. But by ten o'clock the next day, Gordon was speeding into the city to deliver our paper for printing. Again saved by volunteers. Late for the usual delivery time, but the News got it printed and Kluane delivered it in time, and nobody in town knew how close they were to having a late paper.

There is so much more one could say about the tremendous help we have had from many individuals, too numerous to name, but whenever you find a volunteer, present or past, for your community newspaper, please say a Thank You.

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Barber Wins Education Award

by Kathy Webster


Superintendent of Education Dr. Collin Kelly presents Bonnie Barber with her award.

The Yukon Excellence in Education Awards are not just for teachers, as Bonnie Barber found out on May 2.

Bonnie Barber is the secretary at Robert Service School and is well known for being the best resource person in Dawson City. Bonnie gives of herself no matter how much work is before her. She organizes find raisers for student exchanges and student activities, assists with and participates in community activities, trains and guides staff and administration, and shares her baking and cooking expertise. During the past thirteen years Bonnie has crated a warm, non-threatening environment at the school for students, parents, visitors and staff.

Her involvement with the school, community and students is legendary. She spends countless hours as an advocate, promoting and working on behalf of the students and the school. She s a quiet leader, knowing the community and recognizing the strengths of each individual, she brings out the best in people.

Whether fixing sewing machines, sewing costumes, teaching quilting or preparing specialty cakes for staff and student events, Bonnie is a bundle of energy. Graduation dresses get made or altered, tuxedos are fitted and families are fully included in the plans and preparations. Yearbooks are published and special wishes and anecdotes are included.

Many students in Dawson City consider Bonnie a surrogate mother. In fact, many students over the years have continued their education solely because Bonnie had provided support, encouragement and parent-lie interest ... she sustained them. As a graduate of this school herself, and as a mother of three ore graduates of this school, Bonnie know s first-hand what is needed in the community to encourage learning. Under the toughest circumstances her warmth, sterling smile and good will are ready.

Bonnie is also a vital link between the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation and the school. Bonnie sits on numerous first nation and church committees and helps organize and direct a summer Bible camp for all interested children. Her selfless service to the families and children of Dawson City is the epitome of the truth, "It takes a community to raise a child."

Congratulations, Bonnie on receiving this well-earned reward.

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Holy Hockey Sticks, Dawson!

Submitted by Jennifer Keller


Hannah Dewell strikes a pose on her own hockey card. Photo submitted

Is it just me or are we all a little out the loop when it comes to the accomplishments of Dawson's sons and daughters? Accomplishments that reflect so well upon all the many volunteers and professionals that teach, encourage, and engage our youth in sports. For example, I had no idea, no appreciation, for the caliber of hockey that is currently being played by some of our community's kids. Now that I do know, I'm going to share so that we can all feel proud.

The initiative for picking up my pen was hearing about Hannah Dewell's invitation to play for the Canada Polar Bears Under 22 Female Hockey Team. This summer she will tour Europe with them as they compete in their 2003 Prague Hockey Tournament. Hannah and her team will be challenged by up to eight European hockey teams as they travel through Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria from July 31 to Aug. 15.

How exciting! This is especially notable as there are only 17 player spaces available on this team and our Hannah was chosen for one of them. The other players are picked from Western Canada based upon their adeptness, and general conduct as well as their ability to perform under mental and physical duress. This team played against the Finnish, Czech and German national squads and placed a solid 3rd last year.

It's not only Hannah, there are other local young people working hard to excel in their sport. The City of Dawson and the Recreation Board should be applauded for all of the effort that has gone into these kids. Naturally there are extra Kudos for the Dawson City Minor Hockey Association from families like Hannah's. JJ Flynn, Nathan Dewell and Trevor Rudniski all played on the Yukon Canada Winter Game's team in 1999 in Newfoundland. Paul Isaac, Daniel Mason, Malcolm Dewell, Alexander Derry among others played Arctic Winter Games Hockey. Trevor Rudniski made it all the way to play Major Junior A hockey in Halifax. Douglas Johnson recently returned from Kamloops BC where he was playing at a hockey school called Breakaway Futures. Douglas enjoyed the competition at the Midget Triple A level, even after playing Junior B. This is what I'm talking about. These kids are the products of DCMHA and all the associated resources.

How about another example? I recently spoke with Paul Derry about his son Alexander who just put in time at a Spring Hockey Camp for local Junior A players aged 16-19; he is just 15. They are selecting next years Junior A team. Alexander who resides in Camrose, Alberta, played AA Bantam hockey for a team that not only won its league playoffs but the Provincial Championships for all of Alberta as well. Alexander is playing goal for this team. He was chosen #1 out of eight possible goal tenders at last year's camp. In August Alexander will be trying out for Midget AAA followed by an invitation to try out for the Alberta Junior A league in Calgary.

If you are unsure about all the Hockey terminology used, such as "Triple A" or "Bantam", fear not and rest assured that it is very intense hockey, highly competitive and challenging!

Experiences in competitive levels of sport are invaluable to anyone. To be able to compete in other places' let alone foreign countries, can afford our young athletes the great gift of PERSPECTIVE. In the past any youth from Dawson who had been invited to travel in competition, were supported by our community in various ways. I myself have been part of fundraising activities such as: auctions, 50/50 draws, nights at Gerties; 10% of the cost of my adult beverage went to Kyla Boivine once. There are other ways to show the kids how much their success means to us. Stop them on the street to shake their hand; use them as a role model to another who feels there are too few; speak of them as examples of where hard work can lead; recognize what an asset they are to the reputation of Dawson City and the Yukon.

Hannah's upcoming European trip is a good chance to show your support. If you have any fundraiser ideas, would volunteer for a fundraiser or just be a fund for Hannah, please let me know through The Sun. Remember, any company or business sponsors can get an income tax receipt.

I'd like to think that the words used recently in a letter to the Rec Board could apply to many of our Dawson sons and daughters;

"These kids, no matter where they go and what they do, will remain ambassadors for Dawson City and the Yukon."

If you would like to see The Klondike Sun begin a column about sports in our community, a sort of who's doing what where and a look at sports events around town, you're in luck. I'm thinking of getting the people who know a little something about this to write it down for you. We have had people covering sports like hockey, curling, soccer and baseball in the past, but they have since moved away or burned out. Fax or e-mail The Sun if you have something to report. Perhaps in the future,some of our more informed community members will take a trip down the sports writing path and we can all cheer together!

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Remembering the DEW Line at BAR-1

by Palma Berger


David Neufeld and Joanne Jackson Johnson standing beside an Azimuth and Range Indicator, which is a radar screen which has been removed from its console unit. It is on loan from the McBride Museum. Photo by Palma Berger

In the fifties, the Cold War was heating up. The Russians were coming - most likely. The U.S. had to be defended. To do this they erected a line of radar stations within the Arctic Circle, stretching along the north shore of Alaska, Canada, across to Greenland and on to Iceland. These stations were called the Distant Early Warning or DEW, Line.

They had to be manned.

In 1993 just prior to the shut down of the DEW line, photographer Joanne Jackson Johnson and Parks Canada historian David Neufeld teamed up to preserve with photography and collected artifacts the history and feel of this era.

The went to Bar-1 the station located near Komachuk Beach on the northern Yukon shore. Here the workers and environment of the workers was recorded.

It was a bleak land. The buildings were made up of modules, a large dome, several large curved 'dishes' to catch the signals. The men were confined to their quarters most of the time as the weather did not allow them to spend much time outside the buildings. What were the buildings like? These were functional, purely functional.

As Johnson says, "When .... I see the DEW line in context of the energy, inventiveness, and progress of that period, I see its construction epitomizing Modernism, the height of believing in invention."

So it is that there were unbelievable self contained units built up there. The units were filled with machinery that required constant maintenance. Maintained not only so that they continue to serve their purpose of spotting any enemy craft, but carefully maintained so that the lives of any of the workers were not endangered, either by malfunctioning machinery or by furnace failure, the constant fear.

Johnson photos of the men at work at their consoles, or with the wrench in hand are all recorded. The figures look as immobile as the shining steel or painted machinery that surrounds them. The buildings were at first purely functional, as in no carpets or ceiling as fire was a big concern. But as better material was invented carpets of these material was placed.

The environment was described in the writings of one man who said, 'the on-site noise is inescapable. Two power plants are constantly running. Often a truck is kept running for planned errands. Inside, although the diesels are at the far end of the station, the whole train gently rocks.' The 'train' being the connecting modules that made up the living and working quarters. He goes on 'it seems the noise is a physical part of the fortress as necessary as the building, shell and roads.'

'Every room not occupied by a t.v., seems to have pumps, compressors, motors. Inside is the omnipotent smell of oil and steel, never strong but everywhere. It reinforces the fortress character of the place, functional, focused, utilitarian, mechanical.' This purely functional idea is caught very well by Johnson. Nearly everything has straight lines to it. The only curves are in maybe a cylinder, a round cup, the fake jungle plant.

There is no bonding with the outside environment. The decoration at the end of the wall is a lush tropical scene. The tables are of shiny wood; wood such a rare commodity up north.

She said that a couple of the men were real Trekkie fans. Indeed one large photo is of a U.S. airman standing in front of the 'diamonds' formed by the steel girders of the dome, looks as if he has just stepped out of a space ship. It is a great photo.

Their living quarters although not too big, were very clean and modern. The wages were great. Some worked and saved for a home, another for a university course, another had been there so long, and had made great money and invested it wisely and was now a millionaire. Still he stayed on.

But how did the men survive mentally? In another piece of a preserved diary on the wall someone has written... "the DEW is a trap. You don't get any relationships because you are away all the time, and you don't quit because you have no relationship to go back to."

"I quit in 1980 to get married, but I broke up with my fiancée. I was just bushed . You don't know how bushed until you're out for 5 months and then you look back and say, 'Boy, was I weird' ".

Most of the men in the photos have a somber countenance. One has to see the photos of the Inuit to see a liveliness. One photo taken at the beginning of the construction shows one Inuit man standing on a road being constructed across a bare flat plain. He is waving his hand in the air, and laughing. Another, a few years later, shows a genuinely happy Jonah grinning out of his fur trimmed parka. The last photo of any Inuit shows one with blue rubber gloves on beside the fake brick divide, as he begins his chores, but he too can grin.

The photos and the artifacts gave but a small indication of what life was like at BAR - 1.

PHOTO: David Neufeld and Joanne Jackson Johnson standing beside an Azimuth and Range Indicator, which is a radar screen which has been removed from its console unit. It is on loan from the McBride Museum.

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Access an Issue on Dawson Streets

From a concerned senior

Have you ever thought about how you would get around Dawson if you were mobility impaired? The ramps that we see on newly renovated buildings are not for sliding and skateboards; they serve the very useful purpose of allowing people with mobility impairments to access services. This means that residents and tourists alike can wheel through town and conduct their business independently, or can they?

Take a look, most buildings in town d not have ramps. You can buy liquor quite easily, but not do your banking. You can stay very comfortably in a wheelchair accessible cabin at Kate's. The new Post Office may have a door that is at grade level but how do you open it if you are in a wheelchair?

Our roads are either, potholed and dusty or potholed and muddy. The boardwalks are great to wheel on, but getting up onto them is a challenge at the best of times. Imagine what it is like to try and climb a 2 food slope covered in mud when you are doing it by arm power in a wheelchair. There are at least two places in the downtown core that one can wheel onto the boardwalk, roll down the whole block of shops but then at the end, there are steps!

Some establishments in town have very nice ramps, put there because the Building Code says they have to, but the end of the ramp goes into rocks, totally impossible to push a wheelchair independently through. And the ramp to the new arena has a step at the entrance!

As our population gets older and more of our Seniors decide to stay in the Yukon we in Dawson are going to have address these issues. We get more and more mobility impaired tourists who travel and who motor about sightseeing in scooters and wheelchairs, do you think that they will look on their experiences in Dawson with pleasure or irritation?

We need to let those in charge know that accessibility is an issue for Dawson. We need to make the boardwalks accessible; it is not difficult to do. Take a look at what Kate's has done to the ramp up to the Boardwalk on the 3rd Street side. Then look at the entrance to the boardwalk at the 2nd & King South east corner. See those holes in the storm drain; imagine trying to go over that in a wheelchair. Nice wheelchair ramp at the Sub Shop, no way to get a wheelchair to it.

Yes it will cost a bit of money. Is it worth it? You decide, but remember, one day it may be you in that wheelchair trying to do your banking.

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