Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 28, 1999

The George Black Ferry takes one of its first crossings of the 1999 season on May 14. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

The Birth of the "Sun"
And We Have a Winner...
Gold Show Reveals Surprising Strength
Gertie's Back, Sexier and Sassier than Ever
The Art of Education
Bring on the Show
Han Cultural Centre Design Honoured
Tombstone Territorial Park Boundaries Discussed
Letter: Congratulations to the Sun
Letter: Thanks a lot for online edition of Klondike Sun

Welcome to the May 28 on-line Klondike Sun. The hardcopy edition appeared on May 25, sporting 24 pages, 13 articles, 24 pictures and 5 1/2 pages of municipal financial statements. You're not missing as much as usual this time. It was also our 10th Anniversary issue. Palma's short history was surrounded by a display of front pages showing the evolution of our look over the years.

On-line Note: The Klondike Sun finally has its OWN e-mail address, which is klondikesun@dawson.net. This one goes right to the office instead of to the editor's study at his home.

The Birth of the "Sun"

by Palma Berger

Writers are dreamers. A group of us had begun to mumble years ago that with so much happening in Dawson that needs to be recorded. Recorded, as in a newspaper. Eventually, in 1989, a group made up of Dan Davidson, Sue Ward, John & Madeleine Gould, Palma Berger, Kathy Gates and Dawne Mitchell met to discuss the possibilities. As we bounced ideas off each other the enthusiasm grew. Write? Of course we could all write. We could fit this in to our other full time occupations of earning a living, or retirement plus volunteer work.

In our innocence we did not know that writing for a newspaper was only a miniscule part of publishing a newspaper. We soon learned. Chere Michell was around to help educate us.

First there had to be a location. We were fortunate to get the use of a back room of the then Sunset Home. There had to be utensils, equipment, and ads to pay for the paper, and then someone to chase up the ads. There had to be someone to keep books.

At first we typed up our stories on a computer at one member's house, rushed them to the office, cut and pasted the columns of print onto sheets to be printed up in Whitehorse. We used drawings or cut outs to fill in gaps. All our ads were similarly created by hand. The photos were developed at the house of another volunteer. Hours and hours of work. But there was a good camaraderie of all working together.

When the papers were returned from Whitehorse there had to be someone to distribute them. We were also receiving subscriptions, which meant more sorting and mailing, and keeping track. Fortunately we had some people with business knowledge.

Our first issue came out. We even had a guest editorial by Pierre Berton!

But with all this work we could publish only once a month - but those were big issues. We never got near the 16 pages we had figured on; they were all closer to 30. There was just so much going on in this town!

Eventually through a loan given us by one of the group we were able to purchase a computer. This hastened the production end up significantly. We could generate ads and store the stories on this. Less and less working till 3:00 a.m. or more.

We moved to Front Street when our old quarters were condemned. (There was one month in the bottom of the VRC in between, and another month in the centre of the Waterfront Building when the fumes from an oil leak drove us out of here.) Here another volunteer built the sloping shelves for better viewing of our lay-outs. We were a society now and thus were able to acquire better equipment such as a program and printer that printed out the whole page complete. No more cutting and glueing pieces of print. Production came along a lot faster. But we lost the closeness of working with a group.

We still worked some long hours; so it was we made a few glitches. Early one morning we discovered someone had placed the ad on AIDS information right next to the write -up announcing this year's Diamond Tooth Gertie. We had to frantically rearrange the paper to fit both items in more appropriate spots. The one that slipped by us was at Christmas when we printed up Romy Jensen's Christmas recipe as "Hot Buttered Bums" - the 'n' became an 'm', etc.

We now have our own dark-room for photos We have computers, printers, and a waxing machine. We have been fortunate to have some good office managers, albeit underpaid, but they were paid through grants. All of our summer students have done well as they have gone on in their field of journalism. That gives us a good feeling to have helped so many.

We are so grateful to our advertisers over the years, for without their support we do not know where we would be.

All in all we do feel pretty good about the paper being in existence for ten years now. Not bad for a bunch of writers...assisted by many, many, many helpful and capable hands.

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And We Have a Winner...

by Dan Davidson

Contrary to all expectations there is a winner in the annual IODE Ice Guessing Contest. Mrs. Mary Kogler of Vernon, B.C., selected the day, hour and minute closest to the one which was finally determined to be the official time.

Keen eyed readers of this paper will be saying, "Wait a minute! Didn't we read last week that the timing clock malfunctioned and there was no official time?"

All true. When the fire alarm sounded to alert the town on May 8 it was discovered that the clock had not stopped and no one had any idea when the movement of the tripod might have taken place. The IODE proposed to roll this year's prize into next year's pot, but Yukon Lotteries said it thought they should try a little harder to find a winner.

So the word went out over the town. Who saw the river and when? Midnight was covered by this writer. After a few days Mike Baerg came forward to say that he had seen the river move in the wee hours of the morning.

He'd been out dyke walking when it happened. Better yet, he'd been stopped by two member of the R.C.M.P. who had wondered if he was up to some mischief. His report and theirs narrowed the time down to about 15 minutes between 3:30 and 3:45 a.m.

The final contribution came from Emergency Measures Coordinator Pat Cayen, who was able to add that the EMO electronic gauge down river a few hundred metres from the tripod had detected ice movement at 3:49 a.m. Cayen says that they can't be too precise as to the exact second because the water this year has been so low that sometimes the device was actually out of the water.

Mary Kogler's guess was the only one near that time. From the 4157 tickets sold this year, $2,277.62 went into the pot for the contest. The rest goes to pay for the cost of running the pool and for donations to the various charitable causes which the IODE supports throughout the year. The pool is the organization's largest revenue source.

According to Cayen, this year's break-up is being called a "mush out" by those who deal with such things. A week after the event the rivers seem to be clear of just about everything and water levels are at a 45 year low.

The launch date for the George Black ferry was actually moved up from Monday, May 18 to Friday, May 14, as a result of concerns about access and the fact that the river was ready for it in only 7 days.

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Gold Show Reveals Surprising Strength

by Dan Davidson


The Gold Show takes place in the Bonanza Centre Arena each year. By Thursday night the banners have been hung, the tables are up and the exhibitors are finishing up their booth spaces. Photo by Dan Davidson

Kim Matthews isn't sure what's going on, but there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the Dawson City International Gold Show in spite of the Bank of England's reported lack of interest in the metal itself.

As event coordinator for the show, which ran on May 21 and 22 (Friday and Saturday) here in Dawson, Matthews has seen exhibitor interest jump from 35 to 53 booths this year, and from 7 to 9 outside booths.

"I'd like to think it's my great marketing strategy," she says, and then winces in self-deprecation. But really, its does seem as if some of the contacts she's made in the past few years are paying.

People know that it's not an expensive affair to attend and that locals take kindly to doing business with people who have an 800 number or are willing to make the trip here to see them and deliver a pitch in person.

Friday was the big day for delegates and technical talk, with the Placer Geoscience Forum running all day.

Major speakers in the morning included Dr. Lionel Jackson, a research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada; Dr. Grant Lowery, with the Yukon Geology Program; and Bob Papworth, an investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities.

Afternoon sessions seemed to be led by people who worked in the field, rather than by theorists.

In the evening the Klondike Placer Miners' Association held its annual general meeting.

The trade show ran through Friday and continued into Saturday. There were various workshops, a student art show at the Robert Service School, a goldpanning competition at Guggieville and a closing reception at Diamond Tooth Gerties, which was, of course, open both nights.

The Palace Grand Theatre kicked off its summer season on Saturday night as well.

You would think that would be enough for anyone to manage, but Kim Matthews is experiencing an adrenaline rush, and she's already beginning to plan for next year. The 15th annual Gold Show will, if she can swing it, be even bigger than the 14th. Who knows? After the surprises this year, maybe she's right.

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Gertie's Back, Sexier and Sassier than Ever

by Paul Gowdie


Lorraine Butler as Diamond Tooth Gertie charming an audience member. Photo by Paul Gowdie

The Klondike Visitors Association reopened the doors at Diamond Tooth Gerties on the third weekend of May, and to kick off the 1999 summer season, Yukoners and visitors were treated to a preview of the Diamond Tooth Gertie Show.

For the second year in a row the producers Joey and Dolina Hollingsworth, and Lorraine (Diamond Tooth Gertie) and husband Bob Butler have put together an electrifying show that will most likely charge the patrons.

There was no shortage of energy from the women on and off stage as they smiled, twirled, bumbled, screamed, tapped, and kicked up a storm. As for the ever-charming Gertie, boasting "I got a whole lotta love to give", seducing the male patrons, and playing an integral part in the shows unity is nothing new for this seasoned pro. However, a few new elements have been added to spruce up this year's shows.

New costumes were added and could be described as "electric cool-aid with ruffles," said Megan a la Mode, a Dawson seamstress and fashion designer. The playful use of bright and light hues, the return of the ruffled rainbow underskirt, and glittering sequins all scream for attention. As for the returning cast of lovely ladies that don these outfits, they were nothing short of alluring and captivating.

First time visitor, Mark, an ATM service technician, was particularly pleased with the performers' cheekiness. "It's a unique show", he said, and the performers' brass for frequently flashing their derrieres to the audience made him want to break out in song, "wiggle it, just a little bit...".

Without a doubt this year's show is sexier and more fun than in previous years. Co-producer, Joey Hollingsworth, a well reputed stage writer, director, and performer, notes that this year's show was especially inspired by the Klondike's historical past in terms of entertainment. Minus, of course, the sexual shenanigans in entertainment venues of the period.

Untouched, the show format is still the same as the previous year, with three shows a night, each beginning at 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and 12:30 p.m. The first two shows are traditional vaudeville affairs with song and dance, and audience participation. They are geared for the many visitors that flock to the territory each year in search of one of North America's best preserved frontiers.

One performance, which caught me by surprise, was the last set of the second show. It was representative of the genre but it was by no means traditional. Joined on stage by the Gaslight Follies' musical director Allen Des Noyers and his banjo, the tap dancing performers fused their pit-ta-patter rap and yelps to the ever popular sound track associated with the movie "Deliverance". In short, it was a spectacular unison between a hillbilly and tapping flamenco/can can dancers.

As for the third show, the turn of the century theme was put aside for a more modern day lounge and stage dance performance. It also featured one male singer and performer. A local patron described it as "very James Bondish". Picture it: in one set while performing "Fernando's Hide Away" he's swarmed at his feet in worship of four women,...yeah I could see the similarities, but he was definitely no James Bond. Nor was he Tom Jones. I sat in the front row with three beautiful female acquaintances, and he overlooked our table in search for women to serenade. Personally, I think his character was lacking a bit of sex appeal. It was only after he jokingly suggested to the Madam that she retire that I cued in on the value of her role as the Gertie.

According to KVA's executive director, Denny Kobayashi, the third show of the night was created to attract the local guys and gals who have seen their fair share of vaudeville in the Yukon. With this in mind, the third show's format change is self-explanatory. By producing a contemporary and sexier show, the producers believe they would be successful in attracting the locals, which brings me back to Gertie. Her performance and interaction with the audience throughout the two formats was consistent to a degree and well received. Initially, I was quite reserved and taken back by her sultry advances. Then I realized the broad smile on my face and on the familiar faces of Dawson residents said that something good was in the making.

Diamond Tooth Gerties will be opening its doors on a daily basis starting the long weekend of May 20 to September 18, 1999.

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The Art of Education

by Dan Davidson


Shirley Pennell (left) checks out the school foyer to see if all is ready for visitors. Photo by Dan Davidson

Vice-principal Shirley Pennell sits a bit nervously as she surveys the art covered hallways of the Robert Service School. It's the second day of the Gold Show and the second day of her annual art show.

At this time of year the halls of the school, which contain lots of drawings and paintings most of the time, fairly bristle with the year's collection of material from all the classes in the school, from Kindergarten to Pennell's own senior high art class.

This is the fifth annual art show, a chance for parents, students and visitors to take a look at what the school has been doing aside from "readin', 'ritin' an 'rithmetic" of pedagogical legend.

In truth, as the dozens of visitors see, the kids have been doing a lot: sketches of Dawson buildings, fantasy scenes, abstracts, still lifes, models of all sorts (including projects for other subjects), pictures large and small.

For Pennell, who has always encouraged the plastic arts during her years at Robert Service during which time she has also usually taught a few art courses, this is a time to celebrate creativity, to show a side of the students that people rarely see, and encourage them to do more as the years go on. Her worry was that the fine weather and the busy Gold Show schedule would keep the spectators away, but as the lunch hour passes and the afternoon sets in the numbers begin to pick up. The time they take to make the circle and the favourable comments they leave behind prove that the exercise is worth it once again.

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Bring on the Show

by Dan Davidson


"A Murdered Mystery" ends with a shoot-out that takes the plot full circle. Photo by Dan Davidson

All things come to an end, including the annual presentations of the fine arts programs at the Robert Service School. The final show took place on May 19, just two days before the onset of final examinations and, indeed, these were part of the final evaluations of the Band 7-12 and Musical Theatre 8/9 programs.

Shelly Rowe's Band 7 group (with a little help from some veterans) led off the evening with a pops set consisting of "Chapel of Love" (by Spector, Greenwich and Barry) and "Surfin' U.S.A." (by Berry and Wilson). The tunes may have been a tad slow, but they were clearly on key and together.

Grade 8's Alex Hakonson then took the stage to present a clarinet solo (with piano accompaniment by 1998 grad Angela Haftner) of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". Alex plans to pursue advanced studies on his instrument.

Band 8-12 went to the movies with selections from Beauty and the Beast ("Be Our Guest"), The Flintstones ("Meet the Flintstones"), Bizet's Carmen, The Littlest Mermaid, ("Under the Sea") and a suite from the original score of Star Wars: A New Hope.

After intermission and goodies came the drama production, a comedy entitled "A Murdered Mystery" by Karl Garner.

Betty Davidson's Musical Theatre 8/9 class presented this fractured comedy "in the round", a challenge for any troupe. John the butler (Shauna Kormendy), guided the audience through the circumstances surrounding the death of Steve (Joel Peirson). The suspects included Betty (Leah Adam), Steve's ex-fiancée; Jennifer (Jodie McLaren), Steve's business partner; Lydia (Sean Domingue), Steve's current fiancée; and Preston (David Fraser), Lydia's friend.

This was a comedy which broke the fourth wall constantly and had the actors stepping in and out of character as well as chronological sequence. The audience sniggered appreciatively and the cast clearly had a great time firing off an assortment of cap pistols as part of the action.

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Han Cultural Centre Design Honoured

Submitted by Wayne Potoroka


Han Cultural Centre. Photo by Dan Davidson

Angie Joseph-Rear and Andrew Van Bibber recently received the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Medal in Architecture from the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. The Cultural Centre in Dawons City, was designed by Florian Maurer Architect LTD., and the award recognizes both the excellent lay-out of the building and its unique structure.

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Tombstone Territorial Park Boundaries Discussed

by Matt Sell

The Tombstone Steering Committee held the third and fourth of a series of presentations last week, designed to inform and remind people of the archaeological, historical, and unique physiographical importance of the proposed territorial park .

The committee has been asked to submit it's recommendations for the boundaries of the proposed Tombstone Park to the Yukon and Tr'ondek Hwech'in governments by November 24 of this year. A management plan for the running of the park should be completed 18 months after the boundaries have been confirmed.

Speakers at the May 10 presentation, held at Dawson City Museum, emphasized the importance of the area attaining territorial park status, to ensure monitored development and laws to protect the many archaeological and historical artifacts, that litter the area. It was agreed that the park represents a unique but as yet unprotected link to the past.

Ruth Gottherd, territorial archeologist, explained that the core area of the park alone (the minimum size the park can be) is strewn with archaeological sites where stone tools and barbed spear heads can be found dating as far back as the Beringia era. The reason for the area's richness in archaeological sites stems from it lying along ancient caribou migration routes, hunting grounds for three different first nation bands in the past. Artifacts remain as they were left, at strategic caribou look out points and fishing camps, because the area has lay undisturbed by any ice age for 8,000 years.

Bruce Barrett of the Yukon Heritage branch spoke of history a little more recent, telling of the R.C.M.P's usage of the area as a training ground earlier in the century. After debating the need to police trappers in isolated areas, it was concluded that the area represented a challenge to be conquered in the eyes of the officers. The area is the eternal home of the lost patrol of 1911.

Also from recent history, was Barb Hogan presentation which brought attention to another point of historical importance in the area, the now dilapidated Yukon Ditch, which was once a symbol of modern industry and methods in the Yukon. The ditch, built in the early 20th century from wood flume and iron pipe, represents a technological feat that stretched 70 miles from the twelve mile river, providing electricity to Dawson's mines until 1932.

Catherine Kennedy's and Scott Smith's Vegetation, Terrain and Natural Features presentation at the Cultural centre on the 16 May provided more reasons for making the boundaries of the park as big as possible, by highlighting the point that the location of unique land features and rare plant habitats should be a major consideration in the drawing up of the park boundaries. Their study of the area revealed an amazing diversity of vegetation and natural features in the region. Ranging from pingo glacial deposits that sprout Arctic tundra in the Black stone valley area, to the colonization of the Tombstone range by lichen, mosses and herbs.

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Letter: Congratulations to the Sun

It is a great pleasure for me to congratulate the Klondike Sun on its tenth birthday. What a difference it has made! For many years Dawson was without a newspaper, which is almost like saying it was without a soul. In its heyday it boasted four: the Klondike Nugget, the Midnight Sun, the Miner and the News.

I do not count the short lived and scurrilous Gleaner, which appeared semi-weekly and was quickly shut down on an obscenity charge, the editor given a blue ticket to leave town.

When I live in Dawson there was only the News, published twice weekly. My mother was a contributor. She covered the major social events, carefully checking the news for spelling and periodically lapsing into that old standby, "a good time was had by all." For that I am grateful, for it was my introduction to journalism.

It was I who, on my CCM bike, delivered my mother's copy to the editor, Harold Malstrom, who had lost two fingers in the Linotype machine but still wrote most of the paper, as Dan Davidson does today. For that Dan deserves the accolade of his readers.

No community can really prosper without a newspaper. It is the glue that holds the elements together. I read the Sun with pleasure and also with nostalgia for it brings back memories of those youthful days when I first became intoxicated with the elixir of a working newsroom.

Pierre Berton,
Kleinberg, Ontario

Ed Note: Pierre Berton contributed a short history of Dawson newspapers to our very first edition and has been kind enough to allow us to publish extracts from various of his books over the last ten years. He remains a valued friend of the Sun and was willing to contribute this letter even though he's not supposed to be writing anything while he recovers from a stay in the hospital.

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Letter: Thanks a lot for online edition of Klondike Sun

Dear Editor:

I've just spent a pleasant couple of hours reading all the 1998 and 1999 copies. I'm preparing for a July visit to Dawson and the paper gives me a much fuller context than I had for my three visits in the 70's.

A.C. Nichols
acnichols@ids2.idsonline.com

Ed Note: Now there's a ringing endorsement! The online edition is dated the Friday of the same week the paper is published. It contains 3 to 5 pictures and perhaps a third of the major stories in the newsstand edition and usually makes it to the world wide web the Monday after the paper is on the stands. The edition you are reading is still the BEST way to read the Klondike Sun, but there have been over 10,000 hits on our site since it first appeared 3 years ago.

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