Dawson City, Yukon Friday, November 9, 2001

The very last ferry line up of the season turned out to include the ferry. Here the George Black and lot of heavy equipment are moved into place for the extraction. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

The George Black Goes to its Winter Rest
Dawson Council to MLA: Please Stop
High Speed Internet Hits the Klondike
Explore the Possibilities with the Community Learning Project
More News on the Library Stats Crisis
Concert Season Begins
Know Your Market, Would-be Writers Advised
Yukon Youth to Study Art in Dawson

Welcome to the November 9, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 26 photographs and 25 articles which were in the 24 page November. 6 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, a spread of Hallowe'en photos and obviously, all the other material you won't find here. See what you're missing by not subscribing?

Seriously, we do encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun (details on the home page). It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online, and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers.

The George Black Goes to its Winter Rest

by Dan Davidson

If anything marks the final end of the season called autumn, it has to be the annual ritual of pulling the George Black Ferry from the rapidly cooling Yukon River. October 24 is a late date for the extraction, and the highways department has been playing it by ear since Thanksgiving, watching the first soapsuds of ice change to something more substantial and begin to cluster.

A sort of slush was quite evident on October 18, but it broke up when it hit the boat, so service continued for a few more days.

It was a fairly long year for the ferry, which went in the water on May 16. It's usually pulled out between Oct 15 and 20. Last year there was a fuss between the town and the territory when there was a move to pull it before any ice showed up at all, but this year the end was in sight anytime after the second weekend in October.

Crews working on the extraction on October 24 said that it was actually the low water levels rather than the ice scum which prompted highways to bring the service to an end today.

If the water gets too low it becomes a lot more difficult to lever the boat out of the water and onto the timbers that form the rails for its journey to its winter home.

After the highways crews had done an early morning sweep of the first 86 kilometres of the Top of the World Highway, a sort of "all ashore that's going ashore" precaution, the ferry pulled in at its regular landing and waited while the cats, graders, cables and pulleys needed for the job were assembled along the dyke.

When things were ready, the ferry chugged up the river to a point opposite its winter dry dock and rested in the shallows while cables were attached and lard was spread on the heavy timbers as an environmentally friendly sort of grease.

The lard brought on an instant swam of ravens, who dived in for the best meal they've seen in some time, swooping off with chunks of the pale stuff hanging from their beaks.

Northern area Highways Superintendent Ed Taylor says that laying the lard is very much a matter of timing. It has to be the last thing the crew does or the ravens would have it all gone before the boat could be moved.

The graders on the dyke do most of the heavy pulling, their power augmented by an arrangement of pulleys that is a wonderful example of applied physics. When the force is applied the 83 foot, 110 tonne boat slips up the "rails" as if there was never any question that it would. For a moment it heels over as if it might flip, but the forward motion and the two heavy cats anchored to cables fore and aft prevent that.

As the George Black comes out of the river something odd happens. Maybe it's because the current had been pushing the boat at 7 knots north during the extraction, but once on land the boat is about 3 metres off center to the south. This is where the cats come into play, lining the boat's seams up with the rails before the next tug. By this time the pulleys used to magnify the force of the graders are only about two metres apart. The south grader has left the dyke and is down on Front Street, and the machine at the north end is down by the ferry landing and hasn't got that far left to go.

Their job ends when the pulleys meet, but by that time the boat is on level ground and the cats can pull and shove it into its proper position. That done, all that's left is unloading any left over supplies and loose gear for storage and readying the boat to sit until early spring, when the maintenance crew will begin the mad rush to get it in shape for the upcoming summer season.

In the meantime people who live across the river will have to find other means of crossing it. One hardy soul paddled a canoe across this morning while the ferry was being removed. Others will employ small motor boats, keeping a vehicle on both sides of the river to use once they've made the trek. If all goes well there will eventually be an ice bridge across the river, but the last three years have been touch and go that way, with temporary bridges established by locals long before the ice was thick enough to carry highway's equipment.

Last year in fact, the Minister of C&TS announced at one point that there would be no bridge, an edict which was soon rescinded when the temperature finally dropped. This was lucky for the department which has to have a way to get its own equipment back across to clear the highway in April and May.

The solution last year was a bridge that was firmed up in February and lasted only about a month. Winters like that generally rekindle talk of a bridge.

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Dawson Council to MLA: Please Stop

by Dan Davidson


Dawson's council expressed its displeasure with the riding's MLA at its most recent meeting. L-R: Byrun Shandler, Joanne Van Nostrand, Glen Everitt, Wayne Potoroka, Debbie Nagano, Scott Coulson (town manager). Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson's council is quite upset over recent statements made by MLA Peter Jenkins in the legislature.

"You're feeding misinformation," Mayor Glen Everitt said rhetorically to the television camera in chambers. "If you don't know, just don't say anything."

To the Dawson public at large, Everitt addressed the following plea: "You know how the rumour mills work. Please, just don't buy into it.

"For those of you that are close friends with Mr. Jenkins, would you please ask him to stop? It actually hurts the city when we've got someone in that position working against us."

Terming most of Jenkins' statements as misinformation, Everitt and other council members dealt with each one at some length.

There is no YTG project manager overseeing the town's recreation centre renovations, said Everitt. The town hired a project manager who reports to the project management team (PMT), which reports to council.

Expenses on the project, said PMT member Wayne Potoroka, are not being okayed by YTG. Council controls all expenses. The PMT was put in place last winter after it became clear that the combination of forms contracted to deal with the project by the city were not managing it effectively.

Everitt added that it is not true that deputy ministers of various departments are performing on-site inspections. It simply has happened that some government ministers and their officials have had courtesy tours when they have been in town.

"We do not have a financial supervisor," said Byrun Shandler. As was confirmed last spring by Ken Hodgins (the director of the community services branch) himself in a public meeting at the Oddfellows Hall, his role was to assist the town in developing a long range financial plan to cope with the additional cost of running the secondary sewage treatment plan once it is built.

The council, Everitt said, is not planning any increase in property taxes this year, though the increase in assessments, which are controlled by YTG, will probably result in an increase.

Everitt is uncertain as to why all these matters are bring raised in legislature by Jenkins, but he wishes the Klondike MLA would stop.

"I asked him in the legislature last Thursday to stop saying the things he's saying. A number of other comments were addressed to Jenkins rhetorically.

"Why don't you come and meet with the council, or why don't you have a public meeting in this community after five years of being there (as MLA)?

"Your constituency is not limited to the four walls of your hotel."

Everitt denied emphatically that the recreation centre project had been "shrouded in secrecy: as Jenkins phrased it in question period on October 29.

"We're not holding things from the public. We're telling you everything that we can. In fact, as a community the PMT has released information to the public that I don;t think too many communities would have.

The day we fond out that there wasn't going to be pouring (of cement for the arena floor) you knew it. The day we found out that the (Alaska State Chamber of Commerce) convention was in trouble, you found out."

There is, he conceded, a certain amount of information that is being held back right now, but this is connected to the city's actions in regards to getting the best results from its contractor, TSR. There might be some legal matters to pursue and the council doesn't feel it can tip its hand on these details yet.

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High Speed Internet Hits the Klondike

by Dan Davidson


Jorn Meier shows off the City of Dawson's internet offering to John Weirda (standing) and Gerard Cruchon. Photo by Dan Davidson

After years of slow, ssllooww online connection times Dawson City has gone high speed on the Internet during the month of October.

Actually, the town's home grown system went online in mid-September and people have been signing up pretty steadily according to city offices. It is based on the million dollar cable system which the town installed two years ago for cable television and communications services. The InterNet end of this promise has been some time in arriving, but is up and running now with some satisfied customers.

Essentially the installation at home requires running a cable from the connections already located outside every house in town, adding a new modem to your existing hardware, hooking up the ethernet connection and connecting to the browser of your choice.

Your connection to the InterNet is always live as long as your computer and modem are both on. There is no squeal of digital interfaces talking to each other and hardly any lag to speak of. Certainly, if you've been using dial-up technology, the town's cable system seems blazingly fast by comparison.

Local technician Jorn Meier was showing all this off to the public at the Downtown Hotel conference room on Tuesday and Thursday evenings last week, listening to all-music radio stations, playing blackjack and generally looking at the potential of the net.

NorthwesTel arrived last week with its Sympatico package. The asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology being used means that there is no need to plug another cable through your walls. It splits your existing telephone line, allowing you to use part of it for telephone service, while the rest establishes your computer's connection to the world wide web.

Speeds on the two systems are comparable. One prospective customer tested the town's system from his home on Wednesday night and then popped in at the Downtown to run the same test on the Sympatico link. Northwestel's offering was much faster on downloads (bringing data into your computer) and slightly slower on uploads (sending it out).

Joel Witten, the company's Manager of Internet Services, says this difference is quite deliberate, since people are usually more concerned with download speeds than upload speeds.

Pricing for the two systems is comparable, at $59.95 per month. The phone company has a $99 installation fee. It offers one bill for the telephone and the InterNet in its promotional material.

The City of Dawson expects to offer one bill to cover its cable television and InterNet service. In addition, subscribers to this service retain 20 hours per month of dial-up internet use with YKNet, the town's partner in this venture, just in case of emergencies.

The bad news in either case is that the service offered cover the downtown core and the Dome and anything within a 3.5 km radius of the service's hub. Much past the Klondike River Bridge and you're out of luck. If you live in the Callison and Dredge Pond Subdivisions, as well as Bear Creek, Rock Creek and Henderson's Corner you will probably end up with a satellite internet high speed connection long before the resources exist to hook you up to a land line.

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Explore the Possibilities with the Community Learning Project

by Aedes Scheer


Piers McDonald and Dan Davidson discuss community education. Photo by Aedes Scheer

A Community Learning Networks public consultation was held October 29th at the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Cultural Centre. A small group of interested individuals attended the meeting facilitated by Piers McDonald, himself no stranger to educational issues or the community. The goal of the Yukon CLN project is to create networks of people who are communicating and learning with each other using technology. It is a three-year, federally funded project through the Office of Learning Technologies of HRDC with Yukon College functioning in the coordination of the project.

Piers McDonald opened the meeting with questions regarding what kind of learning or coursework is needed in the community, what are the various communities of interest within this community, and what kinds of technology are in use or needed in the Dawson region. All agreed that the Yukon has good infrastructure and should therefore be at the forefront of its use. With the technology available Yukon residents have never experienced such opportunities to study or promote businesses or attract clients. The schools are promoting computer literacy; however, a distinct generation gap is evolving. Those who are hesitant to use computers and other tools need directed tutorial assistance and encouragement in order to find success in coursework or at the workplace.

A first step may be to assess what technological tools are appropriate for this community. Tools such as telemedicine, video conferencing, web-based learning, and virtual classrooms could be developed here. Nearly every Yukon community is intended to have video conferencing equipment available however a dedicated location for the equipment would be preferable. In some communities video conferencing equipment is located at the school and at the College campus. Space may be available at the school but not at the current location of Yukon College in Dawson. Professional development for educators, medical practitioners, other professionals or municipal representatives could be conducted via web-based training or video conferencing. Points to consider here are that there is not an abundance of curriculum designed for this mode of delivery and the introduction of the new technological tools may add planning and coordination complexities to activities currently managed in low-tech but efficient methods.

Limitations exist. It was recognized that Dawson is deficient in public access to computers. With the imminent reduction in hours of the public library, access to the one free-of-charge computer will be reduced. Costs of holding courses and hiring instructors have priced courses out of the range of those in the most need of training. Distance education courses are available but without provision of a local tutor success in these courses is low or not possible. Prices of computers, modems, and Internet connections prevent many others from utilizing these tools. In order to create virtual classrooms and curriculum for this setting additional instructional staff should be hired. In institutions utilizing these methods entire staff complements are hired to manage the delivery of material.

Piers McDonald's next task is to collate the results of his consultations and compile a report of his recommendations to the budget and policy makers. If anyone has comments they would like to include in the report, please email Piers McDonald at pmcdonald@yt.sympatico.ca or Grant Dunham at gdunham@yukoncollege.yk.ca.

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More News on the Library Stats Crisis

by Suzanne Gagnon, Public Librarian

Clearing up a misunderstanding:

We would like to clear up a possible misunderstanding with regard to the Library Membership Drive. Everyone needs one of the new bar-coded membership cards. The old cards are no longer valid. So, even if you have been a member of long standing at the library it is the new bar-coded cards that count towards the government formula. Also, if you had a bar-coded card in another community and have moved to Dawson please change your address with the library. We urge everyone to come in and trade in his or her old cards, or sign up as a new member.

It was noted in the Wednesday, October 11 issue of the Klondike Sun that population was not a factor in the new formula. We would like to make the correction that population is in fact still part of the formula but no longer the sole determining factor in the open hours of the library.

The Library Board has recently received an interim report for the new funding formula. According to the formula the Dawson City Community Library will potentially lose 15 open hours per week. This represents a significant loss in service for the community. When the Whitehorse Library was faced with cutbacks in hours there was an outcry from the community. We are hoping the same thing will happen here. It is important to note that the Whitehorse Library is not subjected to the same formula as the rural libraries. Is there a double standard here?

Some questions to ponder:

Why isn't the number of daily visitors included in the formula?

Why aren't temporary members included? The reason for that we were told is that the library is for Yukon residents. The simple fact is that tourists use the library, especially for the free Internet access and paperback book exchange. And in truth, with the governments "Stay another day" campaign don't we want to keep this resource available to the tourists? In this community we rely on temporary residents coming into town to fill the positions that run the tourism industry. They are a necessary part of our economy and they account for a large part of library usage in the summer. Dawson City historically has had an annual seasonal population fluctuation. We feel their numbers should be counted in this new formula.

Although hours are given for programs and attendance of these programs why is there no recognition of the preparation time for them?

The needs for each community are different. Why isn't this taken into consideration?

At the Librarian's Conference this past September we were told that our boards had unanimously agreed to this formula. Why weren't the librarians consulted? There was no further discussion with the library boards.

We are looking to the community for support. Please let your voices be heard. There is a petition that is circulating around town. Add your name to the list so we can let the government know that we won't go down without a fight.

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Concert Season Begins

by Dan Davidson


The Grade 10 band in concert. Photo by Dan Davidson

School concert season got under way at the Robert Service School on the evening of October 30 as a standing room only crowd packed the Ancillary Room for the first concert of this school year.

The band program begins at grade 7 at RSS, and the band is, of course, made up mostly of students who have never held an instrument before the third week in August. To have progressed far enough to be able to present five recognizable tunes is quite a feat, but Miss Rowe's beginners did just that with "First Flight," "Mozart Melody," "London Bridge," "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie," and 'Rolling Along."

The Band 8 group was ready for more complicated stuff, including Douglas Court's "Barn Dance," Larry Clark's "'Excelcia," and a deliberately atonal piece by Elliot Del Borgo called "Modal Song and Dance."

The senior group this year is the split Band 9/10 class, which seemed to have no trouble with John O'Reilly's "March Zuma" and the Steven C. Vincent's very seasonal "Waltzing Wicked Witches".

The tour de force of the evening, however, was a swinging version of Steve Hodges' "Dr, Rockenstein," a musical collage of recognizable classical themes set to a rock and roll rhythm, all with a vaguely Hallowe'enish feel. The combined players from grades 8, 9 and 10 got together for this one. They had prepared it separately in their music classes and put it all together during some extra practice sessions after school.

Dawson can look forward to several more musical evenings as the school year continues.

Band 7 this year is made up of Charles Brunner, Jessica Burian, Amy Taylor, Ashley Graham and Kylene Perry on flutes; Samantha Berglund, Daniel Johnson, Brian Naef, J.T. Taylor, David Gammie, Bradley Gauthier and Austin Taylor on saxophones; Patricia McLeod and Luke Everitt on trumpets; Ashley Bower on trombone; Joshua Vogt on baritone sax; Tracey McDonald on tuba and Cyle Dickson and Taylor Mayes on percussion.

Band 8 includes: Caitlin Gammie on flute; Gemma Gould on oboe; Nicolaas Jansen, Victoria McLeod, Heather Touchie and Kylie Nagano on clarinet; Colleen Taylor on alto sax; Russell Magee and Noel Roberts on trumpet; Laurie Van Bibber on French horn; Allison Kormendy and Katie Fraser on percussion.

Band 9/10 members are: Randi Procey and Monica Nordling, flute; Heather Mayes and Bianca Beets, clarinet; Cyle Brandon, Amanda Taylor and Karl Knutson, alto sax; Katlyn Reynolds, Mitchell Irwin and Danielle Mayes, trumpet; and Nathan Shultz, percussion.

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Know Your Market, Would-be Writers Advised

by Dan Davidson


Wayne Grady reads at the Dawson Community Library. Photo by Dan Davidson

Wayne Grady, the Yukon's latest Writer in Residence with Library and Archives Branch, paid a visit to Dawson during the fourth week in October and had several fruitful meetings with local writers and readers.

A workshop session at the Dawson Community Library on October 23 brought out about a dozen people, half of whom were willing to share their work with the group and gather comments from their peers and from Grady.

Much of the time was spent discussing the crafting of non-fiction and creative non-fiction and Grady, who is an experienced editor with Weekend and Harrowsmith magazines, as well as the current science editor for Equinox, gave the following advice to would be writers.

Know your market. Research the type of magazine in which you would like to see your story published with the same energy with which you research your story.

Be prepared to sell your idea, your development and the reason why you should be the one to write it, for these are the points the editor will need when he or she takes the idea the editorial meeting and pitches for the money to do it.

Start with short pieces. Lots of magazines need them and use them to try out new writers before giving them larger assignments.

Make sure you get a written contract for your assignment. This will guarantee you a decent fee even if the magazine eventually decides not to use the piece due to some change in editorial policy.

Grady told the group that he got into editing rather by accident not long after he graduated with an BA in English. Copy editing led to writing and to more senior editing work and so on to books, of which there are seven now, with a novel (his first) in progress.

On the next night, in the same venue, with the same number of people, it was Grady's turn to do the reading, mostly from two of his non-fiction books.

Chasing the Chinook: On the trail of Canadian Words and Culture, started out as an examination of distinct Canadian vocabulary, but became more a book of essays than a dictionary when he realized that each entry tended to turn into an anecdotal essay driven by personal memories. Two entries, one on crokinole and the other on ice, showed how a simple subject could become an engaging personal essay.

In The Bone Museum, Grady's second book on dinosaurs, the author revealed himself as a hard working participant observer in the service of paleontology, a subject which seems a little out of the way for an English major, but which he handles well.

Some of the same material captivated Mrs. Davidson's English 11 class the next day before Grady left to continue his community visits.

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Yukon Youth to Study Art in Dawson

by Dan Davidson

Dawson will become a hotbed of youthful artistic exploration during the third week in November as the first Youth Art Enrichment conference is held under the aegis of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.

"We wanted to see what KIAC could do in terms of visual art enrichment for high school students," said Karen Dubois, KIAC's Program Director.

The result is somewhat modeled after the successful annual Young Authors' Conference (held each a April by the Department of Education), though it is twice as long.

Carol McCauley, the Area III superintendent of Education and Shirley Pennell, the now retired vice-principal and former art teacher at the Robert Service School, were key contacts in helping to plan for this event.

During the process, The plan got paired down from four week long workshops to four workshops running during the same week.

Dubois presented the project to the members of the Association of Yukon School Administrators early in the fall and it was met with much enthusiasm. Some fifty plus applicants had submitted their names by mid-October.

Forty-six students in all were chosen, six from Dawson and forty from Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Mayo and Haines Junction, to participate in the workshops. The out of town students will arrive on November 20. Courses will begin the next day and continue through to Sunday, with the visiting students leaving that afternoon.

While here, the visitors will be staying at the Downtown Hotel. They have to pay $50 each for their hotel room and Dubois estimates that each student will probably be out about $100 in costs. They won't have to worry about two of their meals each day, though.

"I have this wonderful volunteer committee headed by Shirley (Pennell), who will be doing breakfasts and lunches for everyone at the Catholic Church."

KIAC will be using venues all over town for this event, said Dubois. Students will be attending workshops from 9 to 12 and 1 to 4 in the following areas:

Their art teachers will also be attending the workshops.

There will be a public session on the Sunday afternoon to show off some of the finished products or works in progress.

Sponsors for this event include the Department of Education, the Youth Investment Fund, the Yukon Order of Pioneers, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, and KIAC itself. Northwestel is the largest single sponsor for the event, which will cost about $13,000 in direct costs not including the transportation of the delegates.

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