Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 1, 1999

On September 17 students at the Robert Service School held an early run for Terry Fox, to raise money for cancer research. The run goes south on the lower dyke path and returns north on the upper dyke path. They raised $309.00 in donations, slightly more than a loonie per student. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

City Hall Project Over Original Budget, but Less than Feared
Sixtymile Gold Dredge Gets New Life
Swiss Film Maker Fascinated by the Klondike
Klondike Classic Sees Successful Third Year
Listen the to the Rhythm of the Falling ... Building
Coffee Shop in the Basement
First Hunt '99
Developing a Tourism Strategy

Welcome to the October 1st on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Sept. 28th hardcopy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 24 photographs and 19 news stories, the cartoon strips "Paws", "Mukluk & Honisukle", Albert Fuhre's cartoon and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

This edition was Karen's trial by fire, as teacher business called Dan to Whitehorse for most of the layout period. Anne pitched in on ads & Palma did the final paste-ups. Even Stephane at Harper Street Publishing chipped in when our e-mail computer acted up and we couldn't see anything on the monitor.

City Hall Project Over Original Budget, but Less than Feared

by Dan Davidson

Amongst the pressing concerns related to the relocation of the City Hall/Fire Hall complex and the renovation of the Rec. Centre are three which come up fairly often.

The first issue is one of budget. Rumour has it that the city hall project is anywhere from half a million to a million over budget.

Everitt says the original budget on this project was $1.2 million and that it looks like it might go to $1.5 now. There have been estimates of work yet to be done that could take it as high as $1.9, but council has been trimming the project and is determined not to let it get to that point.

"I had said that I would go to Piers McDonald and seek more money, and that if I got it we would authorize up to $1.5 million for the project."

That money did appear during the summer and so the project was fully financed at $1.5 million.

"We realize that there were some procedural errors that I made, that some staff made, that council made .... an communication breakdown and things did run as smooth as what they really should have, because everyone was getting pieces (of information)."

The higher figure was a real shock to council when it finally materialized, and they have been selecting options to reduce the cost.

One matter not planned for in advance was the amount of environmental cleanup that had to be done in the city works compound before a foundation could be made.

"There is going to be some overrun, but that's just the reality of a big project and the way we tried to do it so that every local got a job." Everitt says that contractors who have never worked for the city or with each other have all been employed on some part of this project so far.

The actual cost of relocating the building to Front Street from Fifth Avenue turned out to be $135,000, about $15,000 higher than the budget estimate.

Second, people want to know whether or not there will be a hockey season this year, since there is work to be down in the arena. The answer is yes.

"Depending on how fast we can get the fire trucks moved out and the thermal siphons in the ground," said Everitt, "will determine it. Ice should be being made in November, like it normally is."

It might take longer to set this year as the arena is currently being warmed in order to keep the fire trucks ready to roll at a moment's notice.

It is likely that hockey will be a week or so late starting, Everitt said, but he had no doubt that people would be able to use the arena by Christmas at the outside.

As far as he's concerned he can't see any problem with adding a week to the year on the other end if people want to, but he noted that interest in hockey tends to fall off after the early spring tournament, so it might not matter.

Third comes the question of the fire hall and trucks, which are currently residing in the arena while they await their new home on Front Street.

Everitt said the plan is to have the fire hall working again late in October, between the third week and the end of the month.

He cautioned that many people are confusing the finances connected with the city hall relocation and the renovations on the Bonanza Centre Arena.

"These are two separate projects, two separate pots of money," he said.

He also indicated that the council is very glad to have proceeded with the city hall move first because it is teaching them things that will be of great value in keeping costs down on the second project.

He said he can't recall the city doing any major project over his time on council that wasn't water and sewer related in some way so this marks a major change.

Council is calling a public meeting for the evening of September 29 at the Downtown Hotel in order to address these and other issues, including cable television, plans for the recreation complex and the swimming pool.

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Sixtymile Gold Dredge Gets New Life

by Murray Lundberg


What was left of the Sixtymile Dredge before it was dismantled. Photo by Murray Lundberg

Scattered through the gold fields of the North are an astounding number of artifacts that could help tell of both the hardships and the pleasures of mining for gold in the wilderness. Slowly but surely, the pans, shovels, cabins and even huge pieces of mechanized equipment are disappearing, either into the hands of private collectors, or succumbing to old age. For one gold dredge on Big Gold Creek, though, 1999 marks not the end, but a new beginning.

In 1946, Yukon Explorations Ltd. brought this diesel-powered bucket-line dredge to the Yukon from Oregon, where it had apparently been working. The following year, they rebuilt it near the confluence of Glacier and Big Gold Creeks, in the Sixtymile district about 50 miles west of Dawson. The dredge, built by Washington Iron Works, is a medium-sized dredge, with 70 buckets, each with a capacity of 3 1/2 cubic feet.

When they purchased the dredge, Yukon Explorations held a total of 133 placer claims, and 62 miles of prospecting leases in the Sixtymile district. On August 31, 1947, following re-assembly, the dredge starting working ground that had been thawed by a crew of about 30 men. Among them was Jimmy Lynch, who now, 52 years later, still lives on the property (which he now owns) beside the dredge. He spent only one summer working on ground preparation; he hated being stuck in one spot blowing the overburden of with a monitor. The following season, he went back to hand-mining on Glacier and Big Gold, where he first started mining in 1937.

Ingenuity is an important trait for mine managers to possess. In 1948, when a post-war shortage of bulldozer parts caused a delay in stripping the overburden from the gold-bearing gravel destined for dredging, Big Gold Creek was dammed to divert the flow of water and wash away the muck. This was Yukon Exploration's last year of operations, however, as they declared bankruptcy that winter.

The property and dredge were taken over by the Yukon Placer Mining Company, and they operated until 1954 with uneven success. The gold values were spotty, and for the most part were not high enough to be profitable. In 1954, with only 1,528 ounces of gold recovered that season, the dredge was shut down for the last time.

Taking apart a 60-year old dredge is not a job for amateurs; even men experienced in this sort of work can run into trouble. Each morning, work on the high sections of the dredge has to be delayed until the frost melts and the water evaporates from the steel. On September 9th one of the crew members, Phil "Newf" Benoit of Whitehorse, fell off a steel beam, badly breaking his ankle. He was taken to Dawson by truck, to the airport by ambulance, and then by medevac aircraft to Whitehorse and later Vancouver. Surgery was required to repair his ankle with steel pins.

The new home for the Sixtymile Dredge will be Skagway, Alaska, where it will be rebuilt as a private interpretive centre. It will be located on the banks of the Skagway River, right across from the huge shops of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway. Although the first truckload arrived in Skagway on September 12, it will be a while before any but the most experienced eye will recognize the various chunks of steel as a gold dredge.

Historic purists will note that there were never any dredges on the Skagway River. The reason was simple - there was no gold there. However, for a commercial tour operator, the location provides access to large numbers of people, particularly those from the cruise ships, which brought almost 490,000 people to Skagway this year. With proper design of the dredge's surroundings and the tours through it, this new attraction will be able to provide a good introduction to the gold mining history of the Yukon and Alaska.

Another possible benefit of the location across from the railway shops is the opportunity to increase awareness of the value of industrial artifacts in understanding our history. Remnants of our industrial history are rapidly disappearing, sometimes by accident as with Dredge #11, and sometimes, as happened when the sternwheeler "F.H. Kilbourne" was cut up and taken to the Carcross dump in June, with government assistance.

Despite the fact that the Sixtymile Dredge is leaving the Yukon, she may yet be an important factor in saving what we have left.

Ed. Note: Murray Lundberg operates "yukonalaska.com", known as "Your Gateway to The North on the 'Net". You can see all sorts of interesting material about the Yukon and Alaska at "http://www.yukonalaska.com", including a link to the Klondike Sun online.

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Swiss Film Maker Fascinated by the Klondike

by Dan Davidson


During their last week of filming the Swiss documentary makers took a flying tour of last summer's fire zone. From left to right: Dieter Meyer (Sound recordist), Urs Siegenthaler (Cameraman), Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf (Producer and Director). Photo by Dan Davidson

Ask a documentary maker what inspired him to work in Dawson City and you'll get a mixture of answers, but maybe not quite the combination given by Han-Ulrich Schlumpf during the month he spent here last summer.

The Swiss producer was fascinated by tailings piles and swallows, so much so that the working title of his production was "The Swallows of Goldrush." It's right there, printed on his business card, just in case anyone misses it.

Schlumpf and his two man crew were here in June and July to prepare a piece which will air on the German-French ARTE channel (a cultural channel) next year, catching between 200 and 300 thousand viewers in that country alone, many more if you consider the possibility of export to other nations within the fifteen member European Union.

Prior to this trip, Schlumpf had spent a month in the Klondike the year before, deciding what he wanted to film, but his first trip here was a three or four day stint five years ago. showing how important some of those first contact visits can be.

"I was falling in love to Dawson," he said, recalling that first trip.

"I want to make a film about Dawson, about the Klondike area, about modern mining."

The focus of the finished production will be "people living here, mining here and working here very hard to get her gold and have a living."

Early on he was fascinated by the amount of dirt that people here are willing to move to get at the gold.

"One of the most impressing things is the dredge piles out of the town, which shows what man can move when he is looking for something."

He was also fascinated by the swallows in Dawson, the largest cluster of which nests annually on the Old Carnegie Library, in spite of the nest efforts of people to discourage them. Swallows are considered good luck in many countries.

Schlumpf speaks a curiously accented English in which tenses shift around and the "th" sound is always "z" as in "sumpzing", but this interviewer's German/Swiss is nonexistent, so who's complaining? His local Jack (or Jill) of all trades - gofer, helper, etc. - was Cheryl Laing, and after a month of coping she became adept at helping the conversations make sense.

While Schlumpf was first excited by the landscape, his interest did shift to people with time and exposure, so the documentary has ranged over a dozen mining operations.

"We show how they work, why they work, how they live, and so on."

Twenty-five years has taught him to go for the people stories. One of his earlier efforts chronicled life on a cruise ship, while another took him to Antarctica called "The Congress of Penguins."

This film is something almost an ethnographic study, Schlumpf said, but then interrupted his own train of thought to emphasize that it was also poetic, "because I see Dawson as being very poetic". To that end he had also filmed the Robert Service Show at the 8th Avenue cabin and even attended a story telling evening held by the Dawson Women's Shelter.

One of the reason he went there was to film a reading by Jack Fraser, a long time miner and trapper whose personal narrative forms a key portion of the documentary.

One of the last special things they needed to do before closing off their summer visit was to take a aerial look at the four fires that kept blowing smoke into the town all summer. While they were filming they found that wisps of smoke kept blowing through their shots, so they decided they;d better film a little of the fire so they could explain that to their viewers.

"It's a large area," Schlumpf said, looking at the map of the fire zone. "It's the size of one of the little cantons in Switzerland." A canton is the Swiss equivalent of a province, only much smaller.

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Klondike Classic Sees Successful Third Year

by Julia Fellers


Some competitors at the recent horse show.

The Klondike Horseman's Association's 3rd Annual Klondike Classic Open Horse Show was a wonderful success again this year. This years show was attended by 58 riders, 19 of which were here from Whitehorse. Although the weather could have been warmer, we had no complaints ( not even from those in tents).

The Klondike Horseman's Association would like to thank Gord and Carlene Kerr for doing such a great job preparing HoofBeats Equestrian Center for the show. We would like to thank Garry Gammie and his crew at Gammie Trucking as well as Arctic Inland for the new arena footing and we would also like to thank Bernd Schmid, Scott Dewindt and Gordon Kerr for the long hours of work to build the horse pens to accommodate our out of town contestants.

We would like to thank and congratulate all our contestants who came out and made the show such a great success. A special Thank you also goes out to the families and businesses of Dawson and Whitehorse who sponsored the classes and high point awards at our show this year.

The winners of this years High Point Awards are:

High Point Pee Wee - Hayley Marks and Ole Imperial Bar (Dexter)
Reserve High Point Pee Wee - Caitlin Gammie and Bandit
High Point Junior - Miranda Adam and Delila
Reserve High Point Junior - Shannon Marks and Caledon's Furina (Fury)
High Point Senior - Julia Fellers and Zipperbly Frosty (Zeus)
Reserve high Point Senior - Carlene Kerr and Miss Klassy Klondike (Klondy)
High Point Walk Trot Division - Natasha Burian and Call Me Bartender (J.D.)
High Point Rookie - Eve Derry and Banditß

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Listen the to the Rhythm of the Falling ... Building

by Dan Davidson

More than the autumn leaves were falling on September 13 as demolition equipment ripped into the Dominion Co. video /convenience / gas shack on the corner of Fifth and Queen Streets. At the end of the day only the canopy over the gas pumps had survived the assault.

The building, formerly known as the Gas Shack, has been slated for a come down for over a year now as its owners, North of 60?, figured out what they wanted to do with it. The building was only about 14 years old, but it showed the wear of a structure many times that old. The foundation had sagged. The bays in the former garage were no longer safe. The tire shop at the rear had been braced up by a second internal framework of timbers as the building continued to list to the southwest.

When the former managers departed over a year ago the building served as a gas bar for awhile and was then reborn as the Dominion Co. as part of the fallout from the legal wrangles surrounding the Dawson City Video Store, which used to be on Front Street, but is now on Second Ave. and under new ownership.

Dominion Co. has been under the management of Michel Dupont, who is looking forward to having an office where his chair won't roll across the room by itself. The new store, slated to be open for business in mid-November, will be 1200 square feet of retail space devoted to videos, convenience store offering and take-out snacks. Except for the video outlet, it will be somewhat like the TAGS store in Whitehorse, Dupont says. There will also be gas pumps.

Construction of the new Dominion Co. store will be by Han Construction, Ltd. By the end of the week, excavation for the foundation was well under way.

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Coffee Shop in the Basement

by Dan Davidson


Elaine Henderson and Sandy Pilon were the local talent at the DCMF Coffee House. Photo by Dan Davidson

The first floor of Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church has been a number of things in its time. It was a school once, where decades worth of students learned the "three R's". Latterly, it fell into disrepair and was hardly of any use at all. But it has been repaired as part of the general restoration project at the church and it now serves many purposes.

One of the most recent was a Saturday evening coffee house put on by the Dawson City Music Festival. The evening offered a chance for some local talent to share their work, as well as providing the town a chance to see a visiting artist.

The evening opened with music by Sandy Pilon and Elaine Henderson. Sandy's country tinged original tunes are well known to Dawson's acoustic music crowd, and she never disappoints. Elaine accompanied Sandy on her numbers and then presented a couple of her own while Sandy strummed along. She is a new voice in the town and one that we will all look to hear again.

Kevin Barr claimed to be singing only because Buddy Tabor had asked him too, but his lively, short set certainly showed that he can hold his own any time. The crowd was particularly taken with his amusing song about the afterlife.

When Alaska's Buddy Tabor was last in Dawson to play at the Music Festival he contracted laryngitis and was hardly able to speak, so he is perhaps better known for his CDs than for his live performance. That's a shame, because he has a great stage presence and served up a set of songs that had a lot of energy. Barr assisted him on electric bass, on vocals, and with a little shaker that looked like a golf ball ("my debut on percussion").

Tabor sang songs about the North, about Alaska, about the Iditarod, and about his travels in the southern states. He even performed a poem about Elvis and rockabilly, sounding like an old coffee house hand.

Altogether, it was a fine couple of hours, stretched out with coffee, tea and soft drinks from the kitchen, along with cakes, squares, cookies and pies.

The Music Festival's next evening delight will be the October 3 return to Dawson of Danny Michel and Paul McLeod, also to be held at Saint Mary's.

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First Hunt '99

October 8 - 11
Engineer Creek

This is the eighth First Hunt since it has been first organized. This event has always been arranged to be on the Dempster Highway. For thousands of years, our First Nation people have had great respect for the land because they depend on the land for their livelihood and survival. Our people have always used this highway for their seasonal harvest of the caribou or moose plus picking berries and to meet other First Nations at Black City. We now know it as Blackstone City. Blackstone City was a meeting place for Tetlit Gwich'in, Tukudh Gwich'in, and Tr'ondek Hwech'in hunters, trappers and traders. At Blackstone City, First Nation people would have social gatherings after their long treks over the land. At this traditional meeting site was a perfect place for the migratory path of the caribou, near a river and in an excellent stand of spruce. What more could a hunter ask for?

The major responsibility of the men was to hunt and bring back the meat to camp. The women would cut up the meat and prepare it for drying. At Blackstone City, there is a field which is flat. At this spot the men, after a hard day's work, would play football in the evening. The ball was made of hide stuffed with caribou hair. The object of the game was to get the ball away from the person who had it. If there was an abundant supply of meat, fall was a good time to have potlatches or celebrations. During these celebrations, they would give thanks for the meat that was supplied for their survival through the winter season.

This year, the First Hunt will be in the Ogilvie country camping at the Engineer Creek campground. "We call that Ogilvie ridge - Gwazhal Kak. That means swollen up. From that we call Ogilvie River, Gwazhal Nijik. That means river that comes from the Gwazhal. Don't know how come they call that one Sapper Hill. We call it Divii Dhaa. That's the place where there's lots of sheep. We call it sheep mountain in our way." says Grandpa Joe Henry. Our young generation are still eager to retrace their ancestors steps, want to follow this seasonal route and are more than willing to learn about their culture by practicing and reliving this history and also hunt for caribou.

So we must continue to learn and make use of this land, and celebrate our heritage through cultural events such as the First Hunt. If our children anthe knowledge or understanding of how they can make use of the natural resources, they would not be able to survive. Fortunately, today, our adults and elders still continue to pass on the knowledge and wisdom about the wealth of their land to the younger generations by coming out and participating in this cultural event.

First meeting is on October 2, 1999 at the Tr'ondek Heritage Hall at 2 p.m. To sign up, go over the schedule, activities, camping gear, cooking schedule, and to arrange rides.

Mahsi cho Freda Roberts, 993-5385, ext. 231

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Developing a Tourism Strategy

by Dan Davidson

Dawson City may have been marketing itself as a tourism destination for decades, beginning before there ever was a Yukon department of tourism, but that doesn't mean you can't improve on a good thing. Times change, customers change. The strategies needed to attract people here may have to change as well.

In addition, the Klondike Visitors Association is no longer the only organization in town promoting the Klondike. Both the City of Dawson and the Klondyke Centennials Society, as well as the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce have advertising in their budgets. So does the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation, the Dawson City Museum, and Tourism Yukon. There is a need to make sure that all the paddles are stroking in the more or less the same direction.

So all of these organizations have joined together to assemble a marketing plan, hiring the firms of Graham & Associates and DataPath Systems to pull together the statistics and help direct the planning.

The second of the community meetings in this process took place in the Downtown Hotel conference room on Saturday, August 21. The first occurred in June and the a meeting to discuss the draft reports is due in late September.

The tourism industry is no simple thing. As the background report from the consultants indicates, it is "a dynamic industry. new market segments and travel opportunities are emerging all the time."

Barring natural disasters like forest fires, the Klondike does pretty w, the Klondike does pretty well in the summer. There are sixty peak days, but there are a lot of others where there is unused capacity. and once you get to the shoulder seasons of May and September, "many of these businesses struggle to break even".

Dawson has begun to promote the edges of the summer season, and has managed to cash in on event related tourism in the winter itself, but the feeling of many at the workshop was that there is a lot more to be done, and that it needs to be done with an eye to long term planning.

"There is growing evidence," says the report, "that tourism marketing accumulates over many years - it produces only limited results within a year. It can take many 'impressions' of a message over several years before a prospect finally decides to take a trip. hence, it is important to register a consistent image and message over the longer term with targeted segments."

The job on August 21 was to identify those segments, try to group them into clusters and figure out which ones would be affected by similar advertising.

This was a long discussion, beginning at about 10:30 and continuing until 4 o'clock that afternoon. In the beginning there must have been about five dozen potential targets. By the end of the day, these had been condensed to four primary targets.

If tour bus traffic seems to be absent from the list, the general feeling in the room was that this promotion is largely in the hands of the tour operators. Marketing in this sector focuses on the companies and they focus on the potential visitors.

The results of the meeting are now the grist for the consultant's mills, with the results to be delivered and debated later in September.

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