Dawson City, Yukon Friday, November 28, 1997

The Robert Service School Choir were featured performers at the Museum's annual Open House. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Canada is Freedom, says Mountie
Why We Must Remember
False Alarms Plague the School
Downloading Worries Municipal Governments
A Change for the Better?
Museum Seeks City Assistance for '98
No Stopping Here, Please
New Drive Through at Downtown Coffee Shop?
Dawson Council Supports Taylor Highway Resolution
Family Group Conferencing Update
Klondike of the Humorist
RSS Girls Sweep the Gold this Year

Canada is Freedom, says Mountie

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

What is freedom? To Constable Dan Parlee, currently serving in the Dawson detachment of the R.C.M.P., the answer is simple. Canada is freedom. Parlee shared this sentiment and his reasons with several hundred people during Remembrance Day services in Dawson on November 11.

To the constable, who has served twice with R.C.M.P. detachments in Africa and in the former Yugoslavia, it is clear that there is no country so fortunate as his own when it comes to avoiding the terrible scourges of racism and civil war.

Parlee spoke with evident feeling as he related some of his experiences in both of his overseas postings. While he has twice been moved to serve in foreign lands, he has always come back with a greater appreciation for his home.

The globe trotting constable was presented with the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem by the Yukon's Commissioner last May in honour of his work in the Balkans.

Parlee's presentation was a highlight in a service that included many of the traditional elements. A colour party of Dawson Rangers, RCMP and Cadets marched the flags in to surround the bare Remembrance cross which was later surrounded by flags from a dozen different community organizations.

The Robert Service School Choir under the direction of Betty Davidson was in attendance to lead in the singing of "O Canada" and "God Save the Queen" as well as present their own musical contribution, "When Children Join Hands and Sing."

Ranger Mitchell Strid trumpeted "The Last Post" and "Reveille". Piper Bill Jackson ended the minute of silence as well as piping the colour party in and out of the school gymnasium.

Father John Tyrell, recently installed as the new rector at Saint Paul's Anglican Church, carried the torch for all the local clergy this year, while Legion members Chuck Margeson and Jim Reilly kept the service moving along.

The day cooperated incredibly well. Had anyone been able to predict this balmy weather the service could have been held outside at the Victory Gardens cenotaph. But several years of being caught at -25 and high winds have made indoor services the norm here, followed by a quick wreath laying at the park. This year was no different, save that the wreaths were set out with more reverence and less cold induced haste.

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Why We Must Remember

by Constable Dan Parole
Dawson Detachment, R.C.M.P.

Over fifty years ago my father, along with thousands of other Canadians, left Canada to fight for our freedom. Many of them did not return alive. They fought and died for the freedom you and I enjoy today.

Eight years ago, I departed Canada, long with ninety-nine other R.C.M.P. officers, to assist the men and women of Namibia, Africa, in their struggle to gain freedom from the apartheid of South Africa; a fight against racism, racism that excelled any level of comprehension known to you and me.

Three years ago, I once again departed Canada, along with 39 other RCMP officers, for the former republic of Yugoslavia, to assist the men, women and children of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the fight for freedom from the ravages of a civil war.

A civil war that claimed thousands of innocent lives.

A civil war that left thousands of survivors living in extreme poverty and conditions that can only be described as unbearable, conditions that most of us here today cannot comprehend, even when they are witnessed through a television documentary.

You and I live in a country that is free, a country that has been free for decades. And how do we show thanks to those who fought for our freedom? We gather together, one day each year, to pay homage to those who died, and to honour those still alive.

In my mind that is not enough.

We need to show thanks in how we live our everyday lives.

Instead of showing intolerance towards others, show understanding.

Instead of criticism, show compassion.

Instead of jealousy, show joy.

Be thankful for what we have, and not angry for what we have not. The majority of us have far more than we need and still we are not satisfied. What better way to show the men and women who fought for our freedom - and Canada - that we appreciate their efforts?

Canada is a multicultural country, one that has more freedoms than others. It has been rated the number one country in the world in which to live. Through your and my efforts, let's make sure that it is always number one. Show your appreciation to those who fought for our freedom in how we live every day.

After travelling in many other countries, after witnessing racism in Africa, civil war in the Baltics, there is only one word that to me describes freedom: Canada.

And it is as precious as the men and women who fought for it.

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False Alarms Plague the School

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

For the second time in less than a week students at the Robert Service School were sent traipsing to their appointed fire drill locations by an fire alarm prank. About two thirds of the way through the first morning period, the alarm rang, sending classes out of the building via their previously practiced escape routes and out of doors in the mild November weather to their places at the Youth Centre and the Bonanza Centre.

It was a smooth drill, with no more than a few pratfalls on the icy boardwalks, but it was totally unnecessary, and the Dawson Volunteer Fire Department had stern words for the classes when they all returned to the school 20 minutes later.

Fire Chief Cayen was not amused, to put it mildly, at the second call out in just under a week. He reminded classes that the fire department volunteers all have to interrupt their normal lives and leave their jobs and homes to respond to this kind of a call. Every call is treated as if it might be a serious matter, which means that members push the speed limit a bit to reach the fire hall, putting themselves and others in some slight danger for the good of the community.

He told the students that if they really wanted to see how a fire alarm pull station worked, he'd be happy to allow each and every one of them the opportunity to activate one, but that anyone doing this on purpose and getting caught could be looking at serious attention from all three levels of government, municipal, territorial and federal.

Just at the municipal level, there is an $1800 fine attached to this offence. If the person committing it is a minor and cannot pay the fine, then it would fall to their parents to cover it. If they could not, the municipality could get a lien on their home or possessions.

"This is not a joke, people," Cayen said, flanked by several grim members of the department decked out in full fire fighting gear. He cautioned the students not to believe that the provision of the Young Offenders Act would be able to cover them in a case like this. He said it didn't apply.

He gave the perpetrator until noon to come forward before the case was turned over to the R.C.M.P. After that, he said, the law would be involved. Vice-principal Shirley Pennell also took the opportunity to express her extreme displeasure with whoever might have done the deed, while also emphasizing to the 95% of the student body which would never consider such an act that the unfortunate behavior of one or two people (two stations were pulled) casts a negative pall over all of them in the public eye.

By noon of that day a primary school student who probably didn't know any better had come forward to admit to pulling the station in the gym. It was likely the one that set off the alarm. The second station was in the hall by the industrial education shop and was perhaps pulled by a student on his or her way out of the building during the evacuation.

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Downloading Worries Municipal Governments

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

In this age of reduced expectations, with previously announced federal budget cuts finally taking hold, while at the same time the general discussion has moved on to what we should do with surpluses we won't see for years, what's a junior level of government to do about downloading? Downloading is what happens when programs which were initially funded by the federal government suddenly lose their places on the budget lines. Everyone is used to them and everyone expects them to continue, but there is suddenly no money.

A simple example would be the DIAND operated ice and flood monitoring program which was only extended last spring (for the 1997 year only) after a general outcry from both the territorials and municipal levels of government.

Downloading was one of the topics which was discussed in Dawson during government leader Piers McDonald's visit here.

Speaking in particular of the Dawson City Museum, Mayor Glenn Everitt noted that funding from all levels of government had been cut quite a lot in recent years. The same applied to all museums in a general way.

"The cuts really are coming at a bad time," he said, "because a lot of them were planning their big moves and now they're coming to the municipalities." He noted that Dawson had provided the local museum with $10,000 last year and was looking at a request for twice that in 1998. "We're getting more and more of a request to take municipal dollars - which haven't been growing - and fund these."

In terms of territorial priorities, Everitt indicated that some attention was going to need to be paid to museums and cultural organizations. This was a difficult reality to have to face at a time when the territory generally was trying to promote tourism by banking on its heritage and other resources.

"It's becoming a real burden on municipalities," Everitt said, noting that the only option to allow a town to cover such costs would be to raise taxes, an alternative he considers unthinkable here, considering the high utility rates people already face.

McDonald said his government had made a point of not cutting funding in the currently proposed budget to organizations which were used to counting on stable funding. Speaking of museums in general he said that, "We've made commitments that, in spite of our budget troubles we'll maintain those funding commitments for a period of time. What we're not always able to do is make up the difference when the federal government abandons the field." Everitt indicated that one thing happening here a lot is that some projects from senior governments seem to be available only if the municipality is willing to give them space.

"We have a lot of government projects or employees working out of free municipal space." For examples he cited the Toy Lending Library and the Child Development Centre, both of which use city space without having to pay rent or even sign agreements.

"When we say we can 't keep doing these free things for the other levels of government the easy thing for them to say to us is 'that's the only way you're going to have it'."

Actually taking the hard line of looking for remuneration would put the city in the tough position of looking like it was the villain which cancelled the program.

A similar problem may soon arise with the use of the Waterfront Building by the Nursing Station staff for clinics.

"That was all negotiated over our dentist (Helmut Schoener) being able to utilize space within the medical centre." Schoener packed in his practice last summer over arguments related to his relocation into rooms in the territorial government building on Front Street, but Everitt says the Nursing Station still seems to want to use the ground floor centre section of the Waterfront Building for some purposes.

This is currently used by a number of organizations as open space, including the Nursing Station and the volunteer ambulance group. But the city is considering gathering several of its worthy non-paying tenants into one place instead of having them spread around, so it may have to reconsider how the space is used.

The trouble with budget cuts is, as McDonald noted during this discussion, that levels of government like to pass the blame back and forth. Yet in the end, the money comes from the same basic pot: the taxpayers, and there's only so much you can do with it.

It may be easy to say that this or that project is only a $1200 or a $1500, but, says the government leader, "My whole life is hearing that it's only $1500 or $20,000...that's my life."

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A Change for the Better?

by Palma Berger
Sun Staff

Up to 1965 the power for the town of Dawson was supplied by 'The Gold Company', i.e. Yukon Consolidated Gold Company. The Gold Company generated the electricity by hydro power at North Fork. This power was used by the Gold company in the operation of their dredges as they mined the creeks. The power for the City of Dawson was supplied by an ill-maintained line, which caused much loss of electricity and to cover the cost of supplying the town, the Company charged the residents 25 cents a kilowatt. Quite a lot of money in the '60s.

When Y.C.G.C. closed down in 1965 the power generation and distribution was taken over by Northern Canada Power Commission. N.C.P.C. decided against using the hydro generated power and went for diesel powered generators, figuring this would be cheaper. (Many felt that upgrading the North Fork system and staying with hydro would have been cheaper. However that is another story.)

In late 1986 the Territorial Government bought out N.C.P.C. and formed Yukon Energy Corporation as owner. They made arrangements for The Yukon Electrical Company Limited to manage their assets.

There is a Board of directors whose members are appointed by the Yukon Government to give direction to Yukon Energy Corporation and approve necessary spending as determined by the managers.

On May 20th of this year the Board of Directors for Yukon Energy Corporation announced that they had decided to take over managing the Yukon Energy Corporation themselves.

This meant that Yukon Electrical employees would be departing as Yukon Energy Corporation hired their own people. Yukon Energy offered the present Yukon Electrical employees jobs in the new system, and in Whitehorse many accepted.

The Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. owns generating plants such as Stewart Crossing, Pelly, Teslin, Watson Lake, Haines Junction., Ross River, Beaver Crk., Fish Lake Hydro plant, Carmacks, Jake's Corner., and Swift River in the Yukon.

In Dawson many Yukon Electrical employees have chosen to stay with their company. Richard Kerr who has been here 2 years 8 months has gone to Whitehorse to work with Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. in the service department. Randy Toporowski moves to Haines Junction to continue employment with Yukon Electrical there. Randy as Senior Serviceman has been in charge of the operating facility in Dawson since February 1995. Peter McCollum and family move to Whitehorse. Peter to continue working for Yukon Electrical by servicing their generators along the highways. No news on James Patton yet, but his house is up for sale. James and Peter maintained the generators in town. In the office we will see the familiar face of Cassandra Crayford. Beginning January 1998 all other faces at the plant and office building will be new.

In their Press Release, Yukon Energy Corporation states that 'over the next two months they will notify customers in Dawson City, Mayo, Faro and other area about new payment arrangements'. They are busy recruiting for all vacant positions now. In December they will release another Transition Status Report to keep all informed.

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Museum Seeks City Assistance for '98

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Mac Swackhammer is a worried museum director. In order to operate the Dawson City Museum at the level he feels it will need to be run to meet the demands of the 1998 season, he needs more funding than he has been able to generate from his usual sources. So, in early October, Swackhammer took his case to Dawson City's council, asking for assistance.

"If the council will provide $20,000 in support for our summer students we can bring our staffing levels back up to '96 levels to be able to provide a good visitor experience right from the middle of May until after Labour Day."

The problems for the museum began last spring when a number of sources the museum usually taps dried up. He lost $11,000 of the federal funding for summer students that he was expecting to get. At that time he came to council requesting a $10,000 bail out and, in the interests of summer jobs and centennial promotions, that's what he got.

Swackhammer summarized the 1997 season: "We ran a summer program that had university and high school students doing historic interpretation, information requests, running a library, operating the gift shop, staffing the museum and giving tours."

This program extended to having the staff perform street theatre presentations in period costume at intervals around the town daily. This is a program that the Museum picked up after it was successfully pioneered by Klondike National Historic Sites and then dropped when the Parks Canada budget was cut 2 years back.

Summer students also created the Museum's float for the Discovery Day parade this year and were front and centre at a number of other public functions. In all the program cost about $42 thousand, but this is $18,000 less than the larger program that the Museum was able to mount in 1996, and quite a bit less than the effort Swackhammer would like to put forth for the climactic Centennial year of 1998.

Two weeks before the Museum was to open last spring, Swackhammer and his volunteer board found out that they had lost half of their federal funding. The result, even with the assistance of the city, was cuts in hours, wages and staffing.

"For the last three weeks of the season ... I operated the largest, most popular tourist attraction in Dawson City... with three staff, seven days a week, eight hours a day. It was almost dangerous.

"To leave a single person alone in that place at lunch time when you're handling 250 visitors a day... you can't do it with that staff. It's not a good visitor experience. It's not something that we want to show the visitors that make it all the way to Dawson at the end of the season, especially when we are promoting shoulder seasons.

"I would expect next summer to have 25 to 26 thousand visitors and I can't do that without staff."

Swackhammer hopes to tap the City's $135,000 centennial fund to improve the museum's financial position. While the bulk of this funding has tended to go to the Klondyke Centennials Society there has been some left over for other projects in the past. Without the city's help last summer the museum would have lost a lot of money. As it was, Swackhammer had to reduce his payroll to avoid $18,000 in unsupported costs.

"Gerties, the museum and the Dredge (#4) are the three most visited heritage sites," he said, "and Gerties might be questionable as a heritage site. The museum and the Dredge are neck and neck as the most important visitor draws in town. I can't maintain that standing without staff."

Mayor Everitt wasn't certain what the status of the centennial fund would be once the new council had finished with the budget process, but did assure Swackhammer that council would look at his presentation with a supportive eye.

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No Stopping Here, Please

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff


Bike & Dog. Photo by Diane Marengere

Winter is the season when you find out about things that don't work. Sometimes you find out in ways which are sort of amusing, while at the same time being a little bit scary.

For instance, there's the stop sign at the corner of 7th Avenue and Harper Streets. During the summer it seemed a great idea to slow down the traffic at that particular corner. People tend to take that street a little too fast going both up and down the hill. Getting them to take the pause that might save the lives of some of the neighbourhood children seemed like a good plan.

It did work fine for several months, but the arrival of winter has changed all that.

Ambulance crews and other drivers have all discovered that they cannot stop at 7th when coming down Harper from 8th. At least one driver has ended up going through the intersection backwards while making the attempt.

On the other hand, drivers trying to get up the hill on Harper have discovered that stopping at 7th is a sure bet to bring the entire effort to a spinning halt. Once there, they can't get moving again.

This leads one to the vision of legions of 8th Avenue residents cruising up to 7th, stopping there, backing down to 6th and then taking a run at the hill in order to get home.

For these reasons, city council is debating a relocation of the sign, perhaps a move down to the flatter stretch on 6th Avenue, where it would still be a deterrent, but no an impossible one.

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New Drive Through at Downtown Coffee Shop?

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Diane Roy was gritting her teeth just a little on the evening of November 18, wondering when the next person was going to ask her about the new "drive though" at River West, Dawson's health food store and coffee bar. The joke comes about as a result of an accident which took place that afternoon close to 5 o'clock.

A truck which was parked running outside of Maximilian's, next door, shifted itself into reverse gear, backed across the road, followed the set of its wheels, cut a half-moon arc and backed into the door of River West, smashing the front window, breaking the door and probably doing a bit of minor damage to the support posts.

Shoppers at Maximilians, next door, heard a large thump, and a few minutes later the telephone rang.

"I actually phoned," Roy recalls, " and I said...'could you tell whoever's vehicle is in my front door to come and get their car?' I don't think she knew what I was talking about."

"Nobody was hurt. It was clearly just a freak accident. I felt quite bad for (the driver). It was over five in minutes and cleaned up in ten." That left the embarrassed driver to try to explain to the RCMP what happened.

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Dawson Council Supports Taylor Highway Resolution

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Dawson's municipal council has come out fully in favour of a resolution supporting the efforts of the Alaska tourism industry to get the state to upgrade the Top of the World Highway.

Work on a motion to this effect was begun by a committee at the meeting of Alaska Visitors Association meetings some months back, but this full page resolution from Alaska goes even further in its condemnation of the Tok Cutoff and Taylor Highway network.

Dawson council was asked to endorse the resolution and pass it on to the state government.

Citing the importance of this road to Yukon and Alaska tourism, the resolution goes on to say the highway system is "in the worst condition of any roadways regularly travelled by highway mode users in Alaska and the Yukon."

It has "been the subject of thousands of visitor complaints" which have caused recent traveller over the route to return to their homes "describing the deplorable conditions they found on those highways, thereby creating a significant disincentive to others regarding highway travel to and within...Yukon /Alaska."

The resolution also establishes a link between the condition of the highway and the "documented decline in personal vehicle and long-haul motorcoach travel ... in the last two years."

Hundreds of businesses in both the state and territory depend on this link and the visitors it can bring for their livelihood, and so the proponents request that the state do something to improve the situation.

Therefore, "The City of Dawson strongly urges the State of Alaska to place a high priority on the upgrade and resurfacing of the Tok Cutoff ad Taylor Highway to federal highway standards and that the State of Alaska move as quickly as possible to make the improvements to bring the Tok Cutoff and Taylor Highway up to those standards."

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Family Group Conferencing Update

by J. C. Taylor Sgt.
N.C.O. In Charge
Dawson City Detachment

Family group Conferencing has come to Dawson City. Implementation of the program was endorsed by a consensus at a community meeting in late October.

Cheryl Laing will be working with the Dawson community, the local Conferencing Steering Committee, the RCMP and the Justice Department until March 31st, 1998, to develop a detailed program plan for Dawson City. This plan will include providing facilitator training for qualified local citizens. Ms. Laing has started organizing the first Steering Com mittee meeting, scheduled for December 10, 1997. Place and time to be announced at a later date.

The initial Steering Committee will include those individuals who volunteer to participate at the community meeting. If you would like to nominate a representative to participate in the work of this very important committee, or know of other community residents who are interested in serving, please let Ms. Laing know before the meeting date.

Ms. Laing may be reached as follows.

Box 887
[Dawson City, YT
YOB IGO

Phone: (867) 9936208
Fax: (867) 9935936
EMail: CLAING@dawson net

I fully support this communitycentred justice initiative. I will be working closely with Ms. Laing and the Steering Committee to facilitate both the planning and the implementation of the program locally. If you have any questions, please feel free to call either Ms Laing or myself.

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Klondike of the Humorist

Specimens of Manner in Which We are Caricatured

Collected by Ken Spotswood
Freelance journalist

St. Louis Production Which Will Make Dawson People Forget Their Sorrows for a Time

A late mail brought to Dawson from St. Louis, Mo., one of the cleverest newspaper conceits ever published. It is a four-page paper called The Klondike Nugget, and is filled with caricatures, pictorial and otherwise, of life in the Klondike while it was new.

The prime design of the publication is to advance the name and fame of a certain medicine, but the literary work of the humorists employed upon its contents is of a kind which cannot fail to provoke a laugh from the most serious of mortals who read it.

Although most of its contents are so broadly satirical that no one could be excused for being taken in by it, yet it is said by a citizen of Dawson who claims to know that the San Francisco Examiner was so neatly fooled that it republished the paper in full as a bona fide exhibit of Dawson's literary products. The editorial column sets forth the name of the editor, prices of subscription and advertising in the following breezy style:

The Klondike Nugget, Alas P. Yorick editor. Published between days at the Klondike printing house, southwest corner of Pneumonia Avenue and Bonanza Boulevard, Dawson, N.W.T. Subscription prices--One year, delivered by Canadian dog mail, $208; single copy, $7.50. Advertising rates--Per agate line, each insertion, $48; one inch, one year, $33,672.

The general advertisements are not a whit less ludicrous. In the Help Wanted department the following appear:

Wanted--A barkeeper; must be experienced in breaking frozen whiskey to exact size; quick with gun; $50 a day and no questions asked. Address A., care of Nugget office.

Wanted--Strong man to shovel nuggets in our smelting room. Apply Early Dawn Jewelry Store, 55 Sirloin St.

Four men wanted at Ladue Saw Mill. Nothing to do but work. Pay $15 a day and three drinks.

The opening of the Klondike Opera House is heralded as one of the leading events of the season. The Hop Dream Gaiety Co., is the title of the organization appearing in a farce entitled The New Delirium, or Whos got the Pipe? Kamschatka Kate, the Northerland Sisters and Mosquito Matt are named as some of the leading performers. The Duluth Dental Parlors offer to do gold-filling free, but charge $8 for porcelain fillings.

Editorially, the paper discourages a project to build a jail on the grounds that it was an unnecessary squandering of the publics money, encourages idleness and might interfere with or retard lynchings. Among the paragraphic news is found the following:

California ham at Soapine Sams, only 20 cents an ounce.

Prayer meeting at Amazing Grace chapel Wednesday night.

Parson Doolittle is conducting a series of poker parties at his home on Castoria Avenue.

Yesterdays dog mail brings a letter from Clarence Berry who went home in June to blow in his $136,000.

Scarfaced Sam, of Indiana Creek, reports that his new dog has been quite sick for the past week and he has grave fears for his recovery. He was in town yesterday to consult Doc Deadeasy.

A Rich Strike

A number of local capitalists have held several meetings during the past week to discuss a new commercial project offered by Col. Hungry Maguire, late of Seattle.

Col. Maguire has just returned from the headwaters of Forty-Mile Creek where he was surveying the route for the Dawson City and Elsewhere Railroad. He reports that on this trip his water supply gave out, and he was obliged to eat snow to quench his thirst.

To his astonishment, he discovered that the snow had a peculiarly pleasing flavor, not unlike vanilla, and that it could be eaten with quite as much relish as the finest ice cream. He was moved to investigate this strange phenomenon, and learned that the entire district, comprising about 3,600 square miles, was covered with this delicious dessert to the depth of two and one-half feet.

The Indian guide who accompanied him volunteered the information that this vast ice cream field as been known to the natives for years. Indeed, it has long been the custom for the young braves of certain tribes to escort their best girls thither every summer and give the young ladies a continuous treat lasting from three to six weeks.

Col. Maguire was quick to see the commercial possibilities of this rich find. He proposes to form a syndicate to compress this snow into small rectangular cakes and export it to the States to be retailed as Neapolitan ice cream.

He calculates that this natural product will wholly supplant the artificial ice cream now so extensively used. He says that during the summer months the United States consumes 21,000,000 plates of ice cream daily. At 10 cents a plate this foots up the neat sum of $2,100,000 a day, or $189,000,000 for the season of 90 days.

He further figures that the natural cream from the Forty-Mile Creek deposits can be retailed at 5 cents a plate, still leaving his company a profit of 3 cents. This will save the people of the United States $1,050,000 a day, or $94,500,000 every summer, and yield his company a net profit of $630,000 a day.

In a single season the Maguire Catering Company will clean up $56,700,000 and in 30 years the dividends will amount to $1,701,000,000.

These rich cream beds are safely within United States territory, so there will be no duty to pay. If they were a few miles further east, the Canadian government would doubtless exact a royalty of at least one cent a plate on all snow taken out, and this might give rise to grave international complications.

It is understood that capital is coming forward freely in aid of this enterprise, over $300 having already been subscribed.

Source: The Yukon World, Dawson City, Friday, May 18, 1906

Pet Dog Steals Nineteen Hundred Dollars in Dust

Remarkable Incident on Dominion Claim--Animal Had Buried Gold in Ground

DOMINION, May 17--There has been an excitement here, not in regard to a sluice-box robbery but in regard to the mysterious disappearance of the real thing, a poke of gold dust valued at $1,900.

The dust came from No. 8 below upper, of which George Clazy is the owner and has a thirty per cent interest, and George La Cross is the layman with an interest of seventy per cent in the output.

Fritz Swinde, who represents Mr. Clazy, went to his cabin on 5 below upper yesterday morning for breakfast, carrying with him a poke containing dust to the amount stated. He laid down the poke while he took his meal and when he started to fill his pipe the eyes popped out of his head at the discovery that the poke had mysteriously disappeared.

There was an alarm raised and the excitement was growing when one of the philosophers of the camp drew attention to the actions of a little dog that has been making his home there for some time. Following the dog they found that he had dragged away the poke and had buried it. A miner dug it out with his hands, and Mr. Swinde drew a full breath.

Klondike Turkeys

During the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, Dawson City became the largest city in Canada west of Winnipeg with a population of more than 30,000 people.

Fortunes were being made and lost daily. Entrepreneurs wasted no time in bringing luxury items to sell to the wealthy. These included cases of French champagne, canned oysters, grand pianos, chandeliers, fine art and so on.

When freeze-up prevented the sternwheelers from plying the rivers, goods were packed in the hard way--over the Chilkoot Trail from Dyea, or via Skagway and the White Pass. There was always an unusual assortment of goods on the trails, destined for Dawson City.

During the summer of 1898, one of the more unusual shipments was described by Florence Hartshorn of Log Cabin:

One day I heard a strange noise outside my cabin door. I went to see what the strange noise might be and I could hardly believe my eyes. I had seen strange sights but this was the strangest of all. For I saw turkeys on all sides. They were running everywhere, nearly 100 in all.

A few men were herding them. These birds had walked over that White Pass Trail where men had met all kinds of hardships but the turkeys had experienced no such hardships. No trouble at all. The hills were covered with berries and they had all they could eat. At night they were ready to roost away up in the tree tops. It was strange to see how the men kept them together but they said they had no trouble. They had already made over 30 miles--had eight miles yet to go before reaching Bennett. Here they would be loaded in scows and floated down the Yukon River.

The men slept outside to be ready to start when the turkeys decided to come out of the trees for breakfast which was very early. The nights in summer are light so the turkeys had no way of knowing when it was time to start. The men said the morning was the hardest time as the turkeys would separate but when they were on their way they could keep them together.

I asked how much they expected to get in Dawson and they said, $1.50 per pound and people are waiting for them.

Another time I saw 1,500 turkeys that crossed the trail in crates on the backs of horses. Their heads stuck out between the slats as they passed along. They could not enjoy the nice red berries as those who had walked had done.

Dick Lowes' Famous Fraction

During the rush to stake gold claims on Bonanza and Eldorado Creeks, some prospectors measured off more than the 500 feet they were legally allowed. When disputes erupted, surveys were carried out and the result was often fractions of unclaimed valuable ground that lay between two claims.

The richest fraction of all lay hidden on Bonanza Creek just above George Carmacks famous Discovery Claim. When two disputed claims were measured, a pie-shaped piece of ground was left over. It was 86 feet at its broadest point.

The fraction was offered to Dick Lowe, an unlucky prospector who had taken a job as a chainman with the survey crew . Lowe had trouble making a decision. While he was tempted, it was a small piece of ground and if he staked it, he would lose all rights to a bigger claim. On the other hand, Lowe had arrived late in the Klondike and there was not much ground left to stake.

In the end, Lowe staked the fraction, but it didnt excite him. He tried to sell it for $900 and then he tried to lease it, but there were no takers. It was too small.

Resigned to his predicament, he decided to work it himself. He sank one shaft and found nothing. He sank another and in eight hours he took out $46,000 worth of gold. The claim eventually paid out half a million dollars, and remains for its size the richest single piece of ground ever discovered in the Klondike.

It was said that as much gold was stolen from Lowes fraction as he himself recovered from it. In some places glittering pieces were visible 20 feet away. And, like so many others, Lowe was never the same man again. Almost from the moment of discovery, he got drunk and stayed that way.

Food Prices, and the Cost of Goods and Services

In the spring of 1898, the few thousand miners, prospectors and merchants who had descended on the mining camp of Dawson City were starved for fresh food. When the river ice broke up on May 8 that year, it meant that river boats would soon arrive with fresh provisions.

The first shipment of eggs arrived with a Seattle entrepreneur who reached Dawson with 200 dozen. He sold them all in less than an hour for $3,600 or $18 a dozen. A second shipment of eggs arrived soon after and sold for $14 a dozen. Within a week, so many boats arrived with crates of eggs that the price dropped to $3 a dozen.

One man arrived with a load of 1,500 pairs of boots. He sold them all at $15 a pair--twice what he had paid for them in Montreal.

The first shipment of live chickens arrived after being packed in crates over the Chilkoot Trail, then rafted 500 miles along the Yukon River to Dawson. Their owner set them up in a pen at the North West Mounted Police barracks, and a crowd gathered to watch the first egg laid in Dawson. Being guaranteed fresh, it sold for $5 before the hen knew what had happened.

The first cow arrived in Dawson on June 29, 1898. Its owner, H.L. Miller, sold the first gallon of fresh milk for $30. The owner of the Aurora Saloon managed to get some of the milk, which he sold in his bar at $5 a mug--five times the price of a shot of whiskey.

When the first copy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper arrived, a bidding war broke out as the people of Dawson were starved for news from the outside world. A miner from Hunker Creek bought it for $50, then paid lawyer John Miller to read it aloud in the Pioneers Hall. Several hundred people paid $1 each and filled the hall to hear news of Deweys victory at Manila and the annihilation of the Spanish fleet. The event was so profitable that it was repeated the following day.

And You Thought the Cost of Living Was High?

It cost as much to die in Dawson as to live. Two men died on Clarence Berrys claim in the winter of 1897 and the price of their funeral was astonishing. It cost $2,,000 to hire a team of six malamutes to take the bodies into town. The nails for the coffins cost $8.50 a pound and the lumber fetched 40 cents a foot. Two workmen took six days to hack the graves out of the frozen ground and were paid $200 in wages.

Living on Beans

At age 45 Flora Shaw (Lady Lugard) joined the stampede to the Klondike in 1898 as part of her job--Colonial Editor of the prestigious London Times. Years before, Shaw had visited gold rush camps in South Africa and Australia. After returning to London from Dawson City, she gave an address to the Royal Colonial Institute. In it, she described the so-called cuisine of the Klondike:

With regard to the food, at first it was a little difficult to become accustomed to it. There was no fresh meat, nor vegetables, nor milk, nor wine...

Like everyone else, I took in with me the provisions that I expected to consume, chiefly bacon, flour, beans, rice and evaporated fruits; but as I could carry nothing, and my baggage had to go either by pack-train or by boat, I did not unpack my own stores until I reached Dawson City, where, on rising ground above the town, I established my tent comfortably in a little spruce wood for three weeks.

In any case, as someone truly remarked, with regard to tinned food, whether you begin dinner with the soup and end with the prunes, or whether you begin with the prunes and end with the soup makes very little difference; for, after you have eaten preserved provisions for a sufficient length of time, they all taste exactly alike.

On the journey from the coast to Dawson I took what I could get, and found it to consist chiefly of beans and pork fat, varied by bad fish. As a dietary it was not always inviting; but there is a wide difference between bad food and starvation. With good cooking the available materials often supplied an excellent meal; and before I left the Yukon I had learned to eat beans when need be, like a horse, quite contentedly three times a day. Lord Strathcona, I am sure, will be able to tell you of many occasions in his experience when Hudson's Bay men on the other side of the Rockies would have looked upon three meals of beans in the day as a very desirable luxury.

When I came afterwards to make the acquaintance at Athabasca Landing of a number of old Hudson's Bay officers from the North, I found that there was scarcely one among them who had not known what it was to vary stewed moccasins with candle ends, and after that to go two and three days without food.

Martha Black's Gourmet Solution

Martha Louise Black found her culinary talents similarly challenged by a general food shortage in trying to cook decent meals for lonely and hungry dinner guests. In her own words:

This is Thanksgiving month, and I am going to celebrate with a dinner. It is difficult to cook here, with granulated potatoes, crystallized eggs, evaporated fruits and vegetables, canned meat and condensed milk, but I have made mincemeat and it is prime.

She came up with the following menu:

Canned tomato soup - Bread Sticks
Oyster patties - Olives
Baked Stuffed Ptarmigan
Canned Corn - Desiccated Potato Puff
Bread - Butter - Pickles
Mince Pie - Cheese - Coffee
Popcorn Balls -- and a taste of your Home Fruit Cake (the larger part to be saved for Christmas).

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RSS Girls Sweep the Gold this Year

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff


V-ball Spike. Photo by Michael Gates

Twenty-six teams battled for volleyball supremacy over the weekend during the 19th running of the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament. The results indicate that the Dawson female teams are doing very well, while the new Whitehorse high schools will soon be challenging the teams at F.H. Collins in a number of areas.

The Robert Service girls took both the junior and senior women's contests in the Saturday play offs, beating off the F H Collins A team for the senior gold and the Porter Creek girls for the junior gold.

The last set of the day was for the senior women's gold, and saw the RSS Damsels' squad wear down the Collins' Warriors in the first two of the possible three games. While the Damsels seemed to be running out of steam a bit after they gained their big lead in the second game, they weren't tired enough to let their advantage slip away.

Not content with playing some great volleyball the plucky Damsels also led their own cheering section, admonishing the hometown crowd to talk it up and show a bit of emotion.

In the men's divisions the gold all belonged to Whitehorse, but it was divided between the Collins' Warriors for the senior and the Porter Creek squad, for the juniors. The senior match was a hard fought one between FHC and Porter Creek, while the Porter Creek juniors won over J.V. Clarke School from Mayo.

It was a big weekend for the largest ever tournament in Dawson. The action began on Thursday night at 7 and ran until midnight. Friday went from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., while those who had finished their games earlier attended the dance the RSS grad class had going in the Ancillary Room next door to the gym.

Saturday was the final day, with preliminary rounds beginning at 8 and wrapping up at noon while the full court finals took until 4:15. An estimated 260 students, along with coaches and supporters, made the trip to Dawson from schools in Whitehorse, Carmacks, Faro and Mayo.

Also active in the weekend's work was the Young Women Exploring Careers group. They and their parents organized and staffed the well appreciated concession in the Ancillary Room during the two and half day event. The buses for the return trips began to rolls as soon as the teams had finished their games and received their medals from area superintendent of education Carol McCauley and RSS principal John Reid.

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