Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 10, 2003

The Dawson City Museum's annual auction is one of its major fund raisers. Johnny Caribou (Nunen) was auctioneer for this event, which took place in the legislative chambers of the Old Territorial Building 5th Avenue. This year locals were joined by a late season group of tourists from Germany. Here, the Rev. Ken Snider shows off a jewelry item to the crowd during the bidding. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Dawson Chamber Honours its Members
Grade 6 Goes on an Adventure to Ross Mining!
Yukon Administrations Explore Team Building in Dawson
Yukon River 2003 - the Great Czechoslovakian Tramps Reunion
Photos, Memories and Meanings
Crepuscular Photography from the Night
Caroline Drury: All Grown Up and Going Places
Writing History for the People

Welcome to the October 10, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the photographs and articles from the October 7 hard copy edition.

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

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. The only thing you would not get is the colour photo at the beginning of the on-line issues. We can't afford to print in colour.

Since we went online in March 1996 our counter has crashed a number of times. The first counter logged about 25,000 visitors. The second one, which crashed in late March 2003, logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April 2003 and was sitting at 13,094 on October 13, 2003.

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The Sun would like to thank the following readers for their donations: Jane M. Lund, Erik Knoph, Wayne Rachel (Callison Waste Management), Laura Massey (and to Laura for her encouraging words... "Hang in there - you remain some of the best journalism around.") Note to Torfinn D: We don't have your land address. We'd love to send you a tax receipt for your contribution, but we can't do that without it.

Dawson Chamber Honours its Members

by Dan Davidson

The Dawson City General Store and the Pop Stop were the big winners in the annual Dawson City Chamber of Commerce awards, presented at the Downtown Hotel on September 18.

Vic Tubman's Pop Stop picked up the award for Business of the Year. Tubman could not be present to collect the award, since he was out doing what he won it for: taking care of pop and bottled water deliveries all over the town.

Business Persons of the Year went to Mark and June Mather, the owners of the Dawson City General Store.

Some businesses in Dawson are seasonal. The award in that category went to the Gold Rush Campground, now owned by Pat and Dianne Brooks. The couple were not able to be present, but they had e-mailed back a response to their nomination.

"It is an honour to have been recognized for our efforts in a new business and we are grateful to the other merchants and members of the chamber who have shown us such kindness and assistance in working in the community."

All of the awards mentioned so far will be forwarded to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for consideration in the territorial awards later in the year. The remaining categories are local.

The Not-for-Profit or Government Chamber Award was presented this year to the Humane Society, which handles the animal shelter in town as well as contracting animal control services for the City of Dawson.

A special presentation, a Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to Mimi Elliot of Sunshine Bookkeeping Services, in recognition of her many years of service to the chamber and to other organizations in town. Mimi is moving from full-time employment to semi-retirement this year. In presenting the award Rhonda Taylor said,

"Mimi's retirement will leave a void in Dawson's business community. Over the years she has been a very active member of the chamber and its events. She has volunteered on the ... executive board, the gold show committee and various other boards and committee."

In addition, Mimi's work as a teacher, first at the Robert Service School and later through Yukon College, has helped to train a good many of the people currently working in business offices in the town.

"I continue to use tips and hints from classes that I took from her," Taylor said. "She will always be a mentor in this business community."

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Grade 6 Goes on an Adventure to Ross Mining!


Grade 6 with gold bar. Photo submitted

Submitted by Amy Mitchell, Pascal Causer-McBurney, Daniel Naef, and Steven Kormendy

The Grade 6 class of Robert Service School took a day trip to Ross Mining on Dominion Creek on September 4, 2003. We were driven by Ron Ryant on the big, yellow school bus.

On our way there, we saw a moose that ran away as soon as Ron called it, and some Canada geese. The ride was like a big, curvy, roller-coaster.

We went to Ross Mining to learn about placer mining and the reclamation process, because we are learning about rocks and minerals in Science.

Reclamation is restoring the land to it's natural habitat. Placer Mining is the use of water and not chemicals to extract the gold. You need water and gravity to placer mine. Gold is nineteen times heavier than water!

We learned how they find the gold and how they clean it. They even let us hold a brick of gold!

The Grade 6 class learned how important mining is to the Yukon's economy. There are cooks, office staff, engineers, equipment operators, mechanics, welders, bosses, planners and many more jobs available at a mine.

Terex truck tires are very large and expensive, and it costs quite a bit of money to operate a mine. One piece of machinery takes approximately 300 gallons of gas a day!

After we had our tour of Ross Mining, we had a great lunch of hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, and yummy desserts cooked by Audrey (thanks)! We had a great day learning about placer mining.

Special thanks to Mr. Norm Ross, and employees at Ross Mining, Miss Tara Christie, Mr. Ron Ryant, and K.P.M.A for our great field trip!

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Yukon Administrations Explore Team Building in Dawson

by Dan Davidson


Yukon school administrators worked on team building skills in Dawson last week. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson was the place to be for between fifty to sixty Yukon school administrators and public school branch personnel from September 17-19 as they gathered to discuss improved ways of pooling their expertise and resources to better serve their students.

The team building exercise was lead by Frank Gallant of Peak Experiences, a leadership training organization based in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Jim Tredger, the president of the Association of Yukon School Administrators, described the two day workshop in this way.

"It's a chance for all the administrators in the Yukon to meet with some of the Department of Education personnel and plan strategies for how we're going to better deliver education to our children.

"There's educators from every school in the Yukon. It's a great opportunity to get together, to share ideas and best practices, as well as plan priorities for the coming years."

Tredger sees that getting most principals and vice-principals away from their schools was a good way to make sure they could focus on the task at hand without distractions.

"It was also good for many to see a rural community by coming to Dawson. Often we meet in Whitehorse, but this was a chance to come to Dawson and help support the local economy."

Robert Service School Principal Denis Gauthier said he didn't have to twist any arms to get the workshop scheduled for his town.

"A change of venue and scenery was welcome," he said. "Having people here they don't spread off and go back to their communities. We're here to socialize and get down to some of the problems."

Said Tredger, "I think that as educators we make a commitment to the entire Yukon, and this is away of saying to the rural communities, especially Dawson this time, that we care."

For Dr. Collin Kelly, the Superintendent of the Department of Education, this set of meetings was an opportunity "to build a much more coherent team and strengthen the relationships that already exist between our administrators' association and public schools branch."

For Kelly the exercise was about building a team structure that will endure even if the players on the team change. There hasn't been much of a turnover in school administrators in the Yukon this year, but continuity of personnel isn't the key factor in Kelly's mind.

"In any team that you build there's an expectation that in order to have a very strong team we have to consistently have the same members for a long period of time. I don't always buy that philosophy. What we have to do is have a very strong core of people who are able to pass on a lot of their expertise, a lot of their abilities, to new people who are coming in.

"Any strength of an organization is in its depth, and that holds true for administrators as well. As our population (of administrators) ages you want a very strong group that is going to welcome, mentor and train the young, new, next, very talented generation that's going to be coming through.

"We hope to have that core all the way through. That's going to ensure good leadership for public schools for a long time."

Workshop leader Frank Gallant expanded on the outcomes of the priority setting exercise he had led the group through that day.

"What they are doing is identifying some of the foundational pillars that will exist here whether they are here or not, and also learning and reinforcing the process of how to go about doing that. If that's not in place then the ability for them to work effectively sort of diminishes.

"Leaders that are proactive, who invest early in the year in something like this, will reap the benefits this year and next year."

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Yukon River 2003 - the Great Czechoslovakian Tramps Reunion

by Mirko Kennedy and Milo Gach


The Czech tramps in Convoy on the Yukon River en route to Dawson. Photo by Mirko Kennedy

I'm sure a lot of the citizens of Dawson City have been wondering who were those army fatigued strangers who invaded their city and their bars at the end of August, speaking and singing in strange languages. Well, we are Czechoslovakians, hikers, campers, adventure seekers and nature lovers, and we call ourselves the "Tramps".

In Czechoslovakia since 1948, under the severity of the communist system, freedoms were non-existent. Boy Scouts was made illegal and so the youth tried to replace it with it with so-called 'Tramping". It was not an organization and so it couldn't be cancelled or legally forbidden. A few thousand youth from all over the country with the same idea but each standing for himself, gathering from individual loners to groups of ten or more, developing a sort of a closed society, with the main goal … to escape from the politically oppressive life in the cities, back to nature and away from the party controls.

There were 'semizdat' (amateur and underground) magazines, songs, meetings and contacts between all "Tramps" oriented youth. The basic activity was camping, with the visual differences being the attire. Every weekend you could see the boys and girls, mostly 16 years of age and up, dressed up in battle dress left by all the armies from both World Wars, or dressed as cowboys, trappers, and other romantic heroes from the books of Jack London, Curwood or Zane Grey, rushing to railway stations on the way to dreamy camps in the national forests and mountains.

Sure they were bothered by the state police and hassled by the communist militia, but that just spiced up the spirit of adventure. They could not jail them, and there wasn't a leader or representative to pick on. There was only the very strong bond of friendship and distaste for the system… to know, you belong in, was the mark and "belong in", is a state of mind, that applies even till today.

When in 1968, the armies of the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia, many of us escaped the country then or soon after, or migrated to different parts of the world to build new lives for ourselves. We have become older, our faces have changed, we live in new countries and with different lifestyles, but we are still all the same.

"The Yukon River 2003" was the brainchild of Milo Grach and the word came out after a couple of years of organizing. The word spread by moccasin telegraph from friend to friend, only for the ones who belong, and there was a big response. Each of us put in $100.00 for the collective expenses and each had to be known by someone from the years before.

So on August 19, 2003, with 70 boats, we started from Carmacks to travel down the Yukon River on the 400 km journey to Dawson City. It was a ten day trip . Every second day the whole bunch pulled in to camp to gather and talk and take one day to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. It was fantastic after some forty years being back in time again. There were 158 people who, after many years, again ran away from civilization to the last paradise. They came from ten different countries, as far away as Czech Republic and Slovakia, Switzerland and Australia, with ages ranging from 12 to 73 years. Along the way, we camped, hiked, played our songs, relived our youth and enjoyed the Yukon wilderness. Forty-eight more friends who had travelled by car awaited us in Dawson.

We would like to thank the "UP NORTH" adventures for the canoe rentals, the people along the river, and F.N.B. caretakers in Fort Selkirk where we marked the 35th anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia (August 21st.) with a special celebration. We thank also Linda Taylor and family at Kirkman Creek and the Kormandys at Ancient Voices Camp for the warm and lovely welcome and friendly care, and all the people of Dawson City for their warm welcome and hospitality.

We figured conservatively, that we contributed $120,000 to $150,000 to the Yukon economy. in these two weeks, for food, lodging, canoe rentals and buses. We have no idea about the bars and liquor stores. Just the one evening in Gerties may have run to $10,000 alone, and there was not one bottle of Czech, Pilsner Urquell beer left.

So big hug to you Yukoners, and Thank You to Dawson City and the people of this beautiful Territory.. please keep it that way. We love it!

Thank You all on behalf of the Czech and Slovak visitors to "Yukon River 2003"

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Photos, Memories and Meanings

by Dan Davidson


Vitor E. Rodriguez Barca (right) and friend at the art show. Photo by Palma Berger

The new exhibition at the Odd Gallery features the works of two photographers. One, Dawson and Vancouver based Tara Rudnickas and the other is Vitor E. Rodriguez Barca who was born in Northwestern Spain but now makes Montreal his home.

Preceding the opening of the exhibition each gave a talk outlining the influences and inspiration in their lives. A slide show of their works accompanied their talks.

Barca's early influences were from Spain naturally. But as a young child he had been drawn to a poster by Galician painter, Uizbano Lugris. This artist's capturing of light and composition stayed in his memory and transferred itself to his photos. This was shown in the photo of a light entering a room through a window, so similar to Lugris' poster.

As he says in his artist's statement, " I try to translate experiences that are significant to me into a visual medium, with the intention of creating a personal space where truth and fiction are constantly juxtaposed".

The slides showed some photos that were intimate as when he took his camera into the corner of his grandmother's home and took a shot of her old broom resting in a corner which had obviously been its place for many years. In his town the main occupation was fishing with the ever-present thought of will the fishermen return from the seas safely. Hence many of the older villagers had a deeply religious feeling and in every home there was a crucifix on the wall. The photo of one such crucifix was caught with the light almost making it come forward right off the wall.

He recorded the beached fishing boats each with their own distinctive colour and with the names probably drawn from the female members of the family, gaily painted with their own particular style, to show the pride of ownership. He recorded the two white crosses on a rocky outcrop, placed to commemorate those who did not return.

He connects ideas of similar shapes. The ceiling high stack of uniform fish boxes is so similar to the large apartment building with each apartment uniformly laid out above the one below. The photos showing the moving waters of a calm ocean are so similar to the gentle undulations of a field of grass.

In the Odd Gallery his photos record a woman stepping into the sea. The light and movement forever frozen by his camera. Others show the interior of an abandoned building whose weathered concrete walls have become the 'canvas' for the pupils of the school opposite. Yet the details of these walls are so sharply caught that one is reminded of similar walls in one's life.

In one corner of the gallery a video is playing It shows the well lined face of an old man as he is telling his story. The face suggests a hard life and has little change of expression, but the voice rises and falls as he tells his story with such feeling, that it does not matter that the language is Spanish. There is a small black booklet containing the translation. Beside it is another book such as some old families may keep. In between its pages are stuffed the many photos of a family life once shared. A much younger family of a time past, but with the photos will live on in his memory..

Many of you may have met Tara Rudnickas already. She has been coming to Dawson on and off for the past five years, and you may have met her as she worked in Peabody's photo store in the summer. Up to the year 2000 she spent the rest of the time attending the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver from which she graduated.

She learned from working with other people's photos the importance of recording a visit or a place. She found that the memory may not record the whole scene, but fragments stay on in one's memory. She has worked with this in her show "Partial View"..

In her slide show of her work she has recorded her fragments in many cases.

She has recorded her apartment in Paris with the gauze like curtains moving out in a breeze and the simple chairs on a shiny floor. For an installation in Vancouver she had photos from Montmartre with the crowded buildings at the bottom and over three-quarters of the photo showing sky. She had done this as an enclosed space surrounded by the people high photos, so one felt as if one was enclosed by the scene.

This shows her fascination with sky. Photos of other buildings were taken not from a distance but from much closer so that the eye follows up the building to be lead to the sky. The sky predominates.

There were lovely shots taken in Ireland of massive darkening clouds with light coming through one area overshadowing the field in front of them. As Rudnickas said 'I am fascinated by the sky. So much happens up there"

With the 'fragments' of her memories of Yukon,. she did not "attempt to bring home the authentic Klondike sought out by many visitors, or to represent a truer or deeper insight, as known by locals. I brought home fragments of my own experiences, viewpoints and assumptions. I was wary of trying to claim authority over a place and appropriating and defining it photographically for others. I recorded the places that were familiar to me as temporary homes, places that fulfilled some of my expectations and the vast landscapes that I passed through. … places that often blend together with the speed of travel and the filter of memory."

So in her show in the Gallery we see parts of familiar places. There is the recognizable wall paper of the wall in the Downtown Hotel, but superimposed above it is a scene of clouds passing over a bright sky.

A photo taken from the interior of one place she stayed looks out the window. But the scene that is to be seen there, is one that has been taken elsewhere and superimposed.

" My interpretations of this place has shifted as expectations and preconceptions interchange with experience and familiarity……... I am also interested in the memories and representations carried away and shared elsewhere."

She plans to stay in Dawson for part of the winter to see a different season and continue working on these themes.

The Exhibition runs until Nov. 16th.

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Crepuscular Photography from the Night

by Dan Davidson


A road is reclaimed by nature. Photo by Dan Davidson

Crepuscule. Not the sort of word that you might associate with photography. It means "dim" or "twilit." Photography conjures up images of light metres and flashing strobes.

The word is more frequently seen in the formation "crepuscular", as in "the crepuscular photographer crept under the bridge as the last embers of daylight guttered out in the west."

Now there it might fit Scott Massey, whose talk at the Oddfellows Hall on September 23 showed him to be a fellow much in love with the night and with the images which can be coaxed from it using the extended exposure settings on his camera.

Massey's slide show and lecture showed his audience an artist whose first photographic inspiration was to reveal the interpolations of nature and human artifice.

A tree is shown displacing the sidewalk in which it was planted; perhaps someone forgot that it would grow. Grass sprouts in eerie precision through the abandoned asphalt of an unused access road. All of this shown in twilight, that boundary between night and day.

"All of the work in Crepuscule is photographed at night," he explains in his artist's statement.

"It is under the cover of darkness that the artist is able to document locations where the natural landscape is illuminated by artificial light. These locations exist primarily in areas of contained, sparse, or fringe development, where the boundary between the natural landscape and human settlement is most obvious.

"The artist's work observes a reciprocal relationship, whereby human activity affects and changes the natural environment and its processes, changes that in turn affect human responses to that environment.

A secondary fascination with the many heavily illuminated bridges and overpasses of Greater Vancouver led him to experiment with nighttime shots and mirror printing effects, and caused him to stumble, almost by accident, on the mysteries of ambient light.

There's incredible light pollution in cities, he tells his audience, producing weird reflections on the undersides of clouds. When people kept reacting to the time lapsed skies in his photographs of structures, Massey set out to explore the night in a different way.

Working sometimes for four hours a night in the spring and fall, he seeks out locations where he thinks natural objects such as trees and fields will be illuminated by light spilling from nearby signs or streetlights. The results are strangely lit scenes that sometimes seem like they might be from another planet, so unusual are the colours.

Dawson in September, he admits to his audience, is probably not the sort of place to come to pursue this line of work, but he did find some other interfaces to explore during his artist in residence stint at Macaulay House. Among his projects have been some impish disturbances of nature, like plucking all the dying leaves off a tree and arranging them as a ball in the center of the branches.

All the slides in this show came from the Vancouver area, but Massey believes he has some good material from here as well, and will let the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and the Odd Gallery know how his work turns out.

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Caroline Drury: All Grown Up and Going Places

by Dan Davidson


The Caroline Drury Quartet included Chris Sigerson on piano, Rick Kilburn on bass and Bill Coon on guitar. Photo by Dan Davidson

A lot can happen in nine years. All that time ago Caroline Drury began her public life as a pretty young girl singing show tunes at weddings. Then she became one-third of the Peters Drury Trio, part of whose charm lay in the fact that it consisted of three young adults doing tunes from a generation or two earlier. Two CDs and a lot of touring since then, including a stint in Korea, and Caroline has moved on to Vancouver, where the striking 23 year old from Whitehorse is now fronting her own quartet.

Caroline Drury brought her act to the Yukon to kick off her first tour as a headliner, and wowed the audience at the Oddfellows Hall on September 27.

This was another of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture's dinner and a concert ventures, with the Mexican meal provided by Jane Fraser of Tintina Bakery.

The concert itself was co-produced by KIAC and the Jazz Society of Yukon as part of the latter's Jazz on the Wing program.

The Drury concert's set list would not have been a big surprise to anyone who has heard her sing before. She favours show tunes and songs from the jazz classics library, but does not stop there. The quartet romped through numbers by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Billy Holiday, Antonio Carlos Jobim, but included adaptations of material by Sting and the Manhattans, as well as several new tunes on which Caroline shares writing credits with members of her band.

The quartet has, in fact, produced a six-song CD which just missed being pressed in time to make the trip along with them. Pre-orders were taken after the concert.

One of these tunes, "Playtime", was a highlight of the evening, if only because it included Caroline's first attempt at whistling in performance. The stunned looks on the faces of the audience caused her to lose her pucker, proving that you can't whistle and laugh at the same time. It was a fitting end to a joyful tune, and the group retrieved the moment by turning it into a whistle-along audience participation number.

Caroline is more than just a pretty face and expressive voice on the stage. She's mastered the art of making it all look like fun, of connecting with her audience and making the performance seem like an evening with a friend. It didn't hurt her to have a sympathetic and friendly audience, but she'd done her homework on each tune and made each one her own, even to changing the moon into the Northern Lights for one chorus of "I'll be seeing you".

As for the band, it would be hard to find praise enough for these seasoned and accomplished musicians. They were self-effacing enough to let the singer shine while weaving complicated counterpoints behind her lead, but quite capable of holding the stage on their own when it came time to. Each solo brought spontaneous applause from the audience.

There was no question but that the band would be called back for an encore, and even that was too short. How about another concert?

Caroline hasn't finished work with the Peters Drury Trio. As listeners to CBC's Sunday program, Jazzbeat, would know, it's common for jazz artists to work with several ensembles concurrently. The PDT website indicates that Caroline will be touring with the Peters brothers once again beginning in mid-October and continuing with interruptions until next April. The website also has a couple of previously unreleased PDT tunes on it that are worth a listen.

For Caroline the only disappointment of the evening was that Diamond Tooth Gerties had closed for the season the weekend before. When the PDT last played Dawson she was too young to go to the casino and she said she'd been looking forward to it.

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Writing History for the People

by Dan Davidson


Mark Zuehlke clearly enjoyed talking about and reading his work in the Dawson City Community Library last week. Photo by Dan Davidson

Mark Zuehlke says he became a freelance writer because he had so much trouble working for other people. Being somewhere at a particular time for a certain number of hours didn't appeal to him. When he was finished doing a job he wanted to leave.

This predilection caused him to move rather quickly from newspaper work to freelance magazine work. But it was even more desirable to him to be setting his own timetable, and that ultimately took him to producing books, which was what he had really wanted to do in the first place.

Zuehlke is now active in two quite different types of writing: mysteries and popular military history. He has dreams of being active in other areas, but these are what he's managed to sell so far.

Meeting with a group of about ten book lovers at the Dawson Community Library on September 23, Zuehlke read from two of his most recent books and discussed some of his influences.

Carry Tiger to Mountain (The Dundurn Group) is the second in Zuehlke's Castle Street mysteries, in which Elias McCann, a Vancouver Island coroner, solves crimes that are often connected to timely themes. The first novel tied into the controversies at Clayoquot Sound, while the second is connected to the arrival of illegal Chinese immigrants off the BC coast.

In the extract he read, McCann is called out to help deal with bodies washed up on the shoreline after the sinking of rusted cargo boat. He finds one victim still alive and manages to bring her around in a tensely written, accurately described scene.

Zuehlke has completed the third McCann mystery during his residency at Berton House, and is now concentrating his efforts on a draft of his latest history, the tale of the trials faced by Canadian soldiers during the first few days of the D-Day assault in June of 1944.

Even before he broke into mysteries, Zuehlke had found acceptance as a popular historian with a special interest in war. Military history in Canada has, he told his audience, tended to be of two types: poorly written memoirs by former soldiers, or dry recitations of facts by professional historians.

He credits Pierre Berton with proving, first in Klondike, and then in later books, that history could be both well-researched and accessible to the public. Of his five histories so far, three have been about important but seldom celebrated Canadian actions during the Second World War.

The last of what he calls his Italian trilogy is just being released in hardcover this month. In The Gothic Line: Canada's Month of Hell in World War II Italy (Douglas and McIntyre) Zuehlke shows not only what happened in this the assault on this last defensive line between Italy and Austria, but also what it was like to be there, with passages drawn from interviews with survivors.

Zuehlke will be continuing his work at Berton House until the end of October. He says the residency, administered by the Berton House Committee of the Yukon Arts Council, maintained by the Klondike Visitors Association, and funded by the Canada Council, helps a writer by giving him time, perhaps the most precious commodity of all after talent and inspiration.

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