Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 11, 2002

This time of year people get nervous. This shot of the George Black Ferry was used simply because it looked nice. We had more questions. Was there a problem? Was it coming out sooner? Why did we use it? Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Cox Promotes Alaskan Methods for Yukon Businesses
Maximilian's Wins Business of the Year
Thoughts on a Difficult Year
Council Says Future Budgets Look Healthy
Dawson Museum Receives Collections Management Grants from YTG
2005 International Sled Dog Competitions
Reviving a Forgotten Hero
Zukermania Tours the Yukon

Welcome to the October 11, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 25 photographs and 17 articles that were in the 24 page October 8 hard copy edition. This edition is late in getting posted because ye editor mid-term exams to work on.

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, Diane O'Brien's "Camp Life" cartoon, the Fraser's Edge and obviously, all the other material you won't find here, including five pages of the city's financial report. You are missing a lot if you're just reading the on-line edition.

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. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online (38,148 since July 2000 and about 25,000 on the original counter before that), and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers. See our home page for subscription information.

An Appeal to Our Readers

Our webmaster has been carrying the cost of this site since it began in March, 1996. That means our volunteer based non-profit paper has been able to appear on the world wide web for free. In the very near future we are going to have to start paying for the hosting service which allows us to exist. About 600 people read this paper every time it goes on line. If most of you could forward a few dollars to the address on the homepage (Bag 6040, Dawson City, YT, Y0B 1G0) we could afford to keep this online edition going without much of a strain.

Cox Promotes Alaskan Methods for Yukon Businesses

by Dan Davidson


Don Cox addressed the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Dan Davidson

In Alaska, the state government and the business community know how to work together, says Don Cox, and the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce would like to see some of that attitude brought to the Yukon.

Cox was the guest speaker at the annual general meeting of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce on September 27, and the owner of Northern Metallic brought a business booster's message to the crowd assembled in the Downtown Hotel Conference Room.

"It's certainly encouraging to see this many good people of Dawson gathered here for the chamber of commerce. Community chambers of commerce are not normally this vibrant or this active, so what I hear so far here is very encouraging."

Cox went on to say that the difference between Alaska and the Yukon was a startling contrast.

"They are so popular with their government ... to the point that ... before the Alaska state government builds their budget, they go to the chambers of commerce around the state and present the issues that they want to put into the budget.

"They get support for them (the issues) so that when they do assemble a budget ... they have all of the business community behind them.

"That was tremendously encouraging. I couldn't believe that anything else would work better."

That's not how it works in the Yukon, however, he said.

"We have the opposite as you all know. It's very difficult for us to know what's going to be in the budget or what we suspect might be in the budget and how it would affect the business community.

"If we do have an objection or have some difference of opinion ... immediately they (the government) set their heels in and say 'No, that's the way it's going to be. We're not about to change.'"

Cox also commented on the environmental regime in Alaska, which has been reputed for some time to be tough on mining and resource extraction.

"Some of those forces are starting to have an impact on us," he said.

In Alaska, however, the government seems to have adopted a pro-business stance which says that "people are first, animals are second, trees are third in that sort of order."

The environmental lobby's most recent target in the state is the fishing industry, which is the largest industry in Alaska. Cox says that government and industry seem to be working together to combat this threat to their economy.

He puts the difference down to the backgrounds of the legislators there.

"A lot of the members of the Alaska state government are ex-business people. They have been in business before they got into politics. They understand, they were members of their state chamber or their community chamber of commerce. They're easy to talk to for that reason."

Cox said that Alaska has a strong economy now and wants to keep it that way. They like the idea of a gas pipeline, he said, and "they dream about a railroad" but they continue to plan ahead, trying to assemble an action plan that will fit Alaska 15 years from now.

Cox says the Alaska people are a "busy, noisy" group and that Yukon chamber members should "interact with them more."

"We should take a few pages out of their book and run with it."

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Maximilian's Wins Business of the Year

by Dan Davidson


Maximilian's Goldrush Emporium on Front Street is Dawson's Business of the Year. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Dawson City Chamber of Commerce was pleased to have a great increase in the number of businesses nominated for awards this year. Rhonda Taylor, who chaired the awards committee, told the membership at the September 27 annual general meeting that this actually made the decision making fun this year.

The New Business of the Year Award was presented to Dianne Andrew, who opened Dancing Moose Gifts last summer.

The Best Seasonal Business Award went to Guggieville RV park. The owners, Gordon and Brenda Caley, were out of town attending a wedding.

The Not for Profit or Government Award went to the Klondike Centennial Society, ably represented by Kelly Miller.

Business Person of the Year was presented to Uta Reilly, the owner of Klondike Nugget and Ivory. This recommendation will be passed on to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce at its AGM later this year.

Finally, the Business of the Year award was presented to Maximilian's Goldrush Emporium, Dawson's book, magazine, music and gift store, represented at the meeting by employee Maureen Conway, who threatened to resign when she realized she was going to have to go to the front and pick up the award.

Emcee for the evening Wendy Burns praised Maximilian's as a store which always makes its customers feel at home. This recommendation will also go to the Yukon Chamber.

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Thoughts on a Difficult Year

by Boyd Gillis
Out-going president, Dawson City Chamber of Commerce

This report was delivered at the chamber's AGM on September 27, 2002

This past year, although socially and economically traumatic on a global scale, the Chamber reflected the mood of these times and maintained its mandate to promote business here in Dawson City, albeit on a low-key level.

It was an uneventful year for the Chamber in that we have the same office, and the same staff, and in my mind this is a good thing.

Our main effort was a very successful Gold Show to start the summer season off. Once again we had no arena to hold the show in, but with ideas and energy from the Chamber members, the show did go on! Using the school as our venue, revenues from the show were beyond our expectations, and the addition of the Antique Fair proved popular. To those of you that volunteered your time, my sincere thanks.

We have signed a three-year funding agreement with the City, and have continually worked to improve communication with them. There are ongoing efforts to improve the priority system at the ferry crossing, as demands from all sectors are a constant issue.

Our community is going through change. Change is not easy and can bring conflict and uncertainty. The issues of the rec centre, the pool, the sewer ~ water system, unemployment (especially within the mining sector) and even" the school system have people feeling uneasy. Everyone here knows a family or two that have packed up and moved on in this past year due to one of the above. The centralization of G~ jobs bas also contributed to the exodus of families from our community. As a point of significance, I would like to commend all businesses in Dawson for having the tenacity to stay the course in this time of change.

On a positive note, new people are moving in and hopefully they will bring new ideas and business opportunities to our community. We have been fortunate in that there has been as significant economic injection through the efforts of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in property developments and construction. Also worthy of mention are the building of the transmission line from Mayo, the upgrading of the airport, the building of the new Federal Post Office and the continued economic benefits generated by the efforts of KIAC.

The future of Dawson, as always, lies in its people and the fact that we are proud of who we are and where we live. We will continue to fight for our economic and social well being and will not accept second best.

I would like to thank everyone for having the confidence in me to serve as their representative and I will continue to stay active with the Chamber.

I would like to congratulate and thank Lindsay for her unwavering efforts in managing the Chamber office and especially for stepping up to the plate and coordinating the Gold Show!

Cheers to a new and successful year.

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Council Says Future Budgets Look Healthy

by Dan Davidson

After months of having other people tell the world that the City of Dawson was broke and would be in a deficit budget position this year, council was only too happy to announce, on September 16, that it actually had managed to put some money into financial reserves this year and that it actually did manage to get into the black this year.

While the town was late with its audit this year, due, council said, to a computer hard drive meltdown early in the year, the books have been reconstructed, have gone to the auditing firm and have passed that test with weeks to spare after the extension to September 30. Several other communities were also in this position, but Dawson seemed to receive the most attention in the press.

Those financial statements will appear in the October 8 issue of the Klondike Sun.

Mayor Glen Everitt indicated that the audit will be accompanied by the seven year financial plan, which has been signed off by the YTG supervisor appointed 18 months ago to assist the town in planning its financial future.

At the end of the 2001 financial year, once all the bills had been paid, Everitt announced that $127,000 was available to be replaced in a reserve account for future projects. The plan projects that next year will see a deposit of $147,000.

"Basically the plan shows a pattern of spending for the municipality, " Everitt said. "It shows that as we get into the construction and operation of the secondary sewage treatment facility ... we do have the capability of running it, even though we don't like to have to.

"It shows that the ... new recreational facility's operational costs will be covered without the huge tax increase that everybody has been told was going to happen."

At the end of the 2007, according to a conservative estimate used in the plan, Dawson should have a reserve of $1.499 million.

"That's not to say it's GOING to be there. Future councils can spend some of it. This just shows that there is spending flexibility."

Everitt conceded that there were reserves of around $3 million in the bank some two councils ago. At that time, he said, the town was not doing the things it is now, and could bank $250,000 yearly.

In those days, he said, the town was not contributing to the funding of the Chamber of Commerce, the Dawson City Arts Society and KIAC, the Klondike Visitors Association, the Klondike Centennial Society and other groups. The town was not paying for the cost of a landfill site and partnering with the Conservation Klondike Society, or with the Humane Society, to handle services with waste and animals.

The total cost of these agreements and partnerships is over $300 thousand.

"So the City could put itself in a position to build reserves at that level, if we chose to remove (these) types of social programs."

Budgets will be tight for the next few years but, said, Everitt, some important infrastructure will be in place.

For this year, at least, there is an operational surplus. It's not large, just $5,200, but that is over $400,000 higher than the deficit that the rumour mill has been predicting.

The Mayor commended the staff and management for cutting close to the bone and making a budget that came in in the black.

The capital budget balanced at zero, as it should, but Everitt also announced that the town has not drawn down the total amount of the loan it negotiated with YTG in September 2000.

"We're drawing it down in pieces as we need it," he said, indicating that there were still funds available for the recreation centre and the sewage treatment project.

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Dawson Museum Receives Collections Management Grants from YTG

The Board of the Dawson City Museum & Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has received funds under two Small Capital Grants from the Museums, Unit, Cultural Services, Yukon Business, Tourism and Culture, Hon. Dale Eftoda, Minister. These project funds will permit the Museum to carry out vital collections management work. The Dawson City Museum possesses the largest collection of artifacts in the Yukon and this important public trust involves crucial responsibilities to professionally mange these irreplaceable heritage resources.

The Museum has recently received the initial payment totalling $9,120 from a total $12,000 that has been provided to hire contract staff to review our collections holdings in order to determine which groups of artifacts are over-represented and to identify areas where we can profitably reduce unnecessary duplication. It is the responsibility of the Museum to ensure that it has a representative selection of well-documented artifacts in a wide variety of categories. Over-representation of certain types of artifacts not only fills up valuable collections storage space, but it inhibits the development of a high-quality collection, and because collections management absorbs a great deal of staff time and effort serves as a bottleneck preventing the Museum from gaining complete intellectual control over our holdings.

The second Small Capital Grant project under which the Museum has received an initial payment of $10,800 from a total $12,000 has been provided to undertake scanning more than 10,000 black and white negatives taken by staff over many years that show individual artifacts in the Museum's collection. These images will then be added to the Museum's computerised collections database so that eventually each artifact's record will have an image attached to it. This will make a much needed improvement in our collections database and initiate a new and more effective use for the labour-intensive work already done in the past to photograph the Museum's artifacts.

All those associated with the Museum appreciate very much the continuing financial support for small capital projects received from the Yukon Territorial Government to assist us in the important work of upgrading the documentation on the invaluable heritage resources in our collection.

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2005 International Sled Dog Competitions

Dawson City will be the location to host the world Sprint, Junior and Nordik Dog Sledding Championships.

Dawson City Mayor Glen Everitt, Brent McDonald the President of Percy Dewolfe Memorial Mail Race Committee, and City Manager Scott Coulson were in Quebec to bid to host the 2005 International Sled Dog Competitions.

"I was called last night by the IFSS and informed of the Board's decision. It was exciting news for Dawson," stated Mayor Everitt. There will be over three hundred Mushers from around the world competing in the Competitions, and there will be International media drawn to the Yukon leading up to and including the event in March 2005. Mushing will receive the International attention it deserves which will help the IFSS in the move to have the sport made an official event of the Olympics.

"This is very exciting news for all Yukoners," Minister Buckway said. "Dog Mushing not only has a cultural significance to the Territory, in some cases, it is still a means of Transportation." The Minister also extended her congratulations to the Mayor and to everyone else involved in the bid for this event. "These races tie in perfectly with the history of Dawson, and I have no doubt the community will do the Territory proud when the mushing world comes calling in 2005."

Brent McDonald stated, " I couldn't be any happier. We will work hard to ensure that 2005, the first time the International Competition will be held in North America in many years, is the best event in their history."

Mayor Everitt explained, "that if it was not for the commitment of Minister Buckway, we would not have been able to attempt to bid on this International Competition. It was agreed, by all of us involved, that the enthusiasm of Premier Duncan and Minister Buckway played a key role in our decision to submit."

Many thanks go out to Wendy Burns, KVA; Kelly Miller, KCS; and Justine McKellar, KVA for providing visual aid.

For further clarification please contact Mayor Everitt or Brent McDonald.

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Reviving a Forgotten Hero

by Dan Davidson


Ken McGoogan makes a point during his lecture on the career of Dr. John Rae. Photo by Dan Davidson

John Rae may not be a household name in the pantheon of Arctic explorers yet, but if Ken McGoogan has his way, that will change. McGoogan, the latest writer to take advantage of the facilities at Berton House in Dawson City, explained his fascination with Dr. John Rae to a packed audience in the audio-visual room at the Dawson City Museum on the evening of October 1.

Rae was the subject of McGoogan's 2001 biography, Fatal Passage: the Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot, winner of the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize.

As McGoogan tells the story, Fatal Passage was something of an accidental book, born of his fellowship grant to the University of Cambridge in 1998. He had been planning to write another novel, but he stumbled onto a truth that was stranger that any fiction he might have concocted.

The Rae story has been sketched for the Canadian reading public previously, notably in Peter C. Newman's Company of Adventurers (1985) and Pierre Berton's Arctic Grail (1988), but in these books he was just one member in a cast of hundreds. As McGoogan began to learn more about him and actually gained access to his unpublished memoirs, he saw that there was a much bigger story to be told.

In McGoogan's eyes Rae was quite simply the superstar of all 18th century Arctic explorers. He was the man who discovered the actual route of the Northwest Passage, though he was cheated of the recognition. Though he did not travel it himself, the passage he identified was the one Roald Amundsen eventually used to make the northern journey in 1903-06.

While he was vilified by Lady Franklin (with the assistance of no less a champion than Charles Dickens) for daring to state that the members of the ill-fated Franklin expedition had resorted to cannibalism in their final days, he was the man who discovered what had happened to that crew, thus ending the need for the plethora of risky expeditions that the Royal Navy kept sending out to look for him.

Subsequent forensic examination of the buried survivors proved that Rae had been correct in his evaluation of the tales and evidence he had collected from the Inuit people of the region.

John Rae's story, like many members of the Hudson's Bay Company, began in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, where he learned to sail and hunt and acquired many of the skills that would make him a good explorer. He went on to train as a doctor.

When he signed on as a physician aboard an HBC ship for a summer job in 1833, the 20 year old Rae could hardly have realized that he was about to find his life's work. That was the case, however. He fell in love with the land and the lifestyle. He approached the people of the region with an open mind and was willing to learn from them. While most Arctic explorers seemed to concentrate on mapping the north from the sea, using ponderously sized expeditions, Rae conducted a series of land based explorations with small groups of men which took a number of years, but were ultimately very productive and, it would seem, in no way as life threatening as the Royal Navy's efforts.

As McGoogan tells this story, Rae was a consummate expert in boat building, hunting, organizing, planning, race relations - in short, all the attributes that one might need to be a truly successful explorer.

Why then, is he not better known? Why haven't there been many books, films, television series? The answer, according to McGoogan, lies in the schemes of Lady Franklin, who had a vested interest in burnishing her husband's legend. Sir John could not be seen as a bumbling elderly gentleman explorer who went astray in the North and lost all his men and ships in a foolhardy gamble against the elements. Even less could he be painted as a poor unfortunate whose men ate the corpses of their comrades in an unsuccessful attempt to survive.

During her lifetime Lady Franklin devoted much of her energy to making sure that Rae's explanation was not accepted by the public, even though the Admiralty did eventually give him the financial reward for finding the answer to the mystery. The result, said McGoogan sadly, is that Franklin continues to be lauded even as recently as in Stan Roger's beautiful song "Northwest Passage", while Rae remains relatively unknown.

With unabashed but slightly self-conscious enthusiasm, McGoogan still hopes to correct this injustice. First came the book, which has done well in Canadian, British and American editions. Even before that was finished, he got together with some friends and actually financed the placing of a memorial plaque at the place where Rae once erected a cairn marking what he believed to be the site of the final link in the Northwest Passage. Finally, there are these lectures, illustrated with slides of spooky engravings from the newspapers of Rae's day as well as photographs taken by McGoogan as part of his quest.

The museum lecture was a real hit for the thirty or so people in attendance, and they further proved their interest by snapping up all the copies of Fatal Passage that McGoogan had available to purchase that evening. If he does this again, he's going to need more books.

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Zukermania Tours the Yukon

by Dan Davidson


Zukermania was made up of Erica Skowrnik, Laszlo Klein, George Zukerman and Simon Cole. Photo by Dan Davidson

George Zukerman is a man with a mission. The Vancouver based bassoonist has spent 40 years getting the bassoon out of the novelty section of the orchestra, and promoting live music where ever he travels. Those travels have included 38 European tours, tours in Africa, Russia, all over most of Canada and the USA and now, the Yukon.

"Zukermania", Zukerman's more populist offering of music, has just spent a week touring most of the Yukon, hitting schools in every community except Destruction Bay. On September 23 the quartet managed to squeeze in performances in both Dawson City and Old Crow, much to the delight of its leader, who has, according to his citation for the order of British Columbia in 1996, "placed special emphasis on the needs of isolated and remote areas, organizing thousands of concerts and giving the residents opportunities to appreciate, enjoy and participate in the performing arts."

Interviewed in Dawson while between trips, Zukerman was enthusiastic about the day's doings, feeling that his quartet of oddly matched instruments was well received in both school concerts.

The current lineup of Zukermania includes Erica Skowrnik on voice and oboe, Laszlo Klein on French horn, George Zukerman on bassoon and Simon Cole on clarinet.

The performance opened with the theme from Star Wars as an example of a song that tells a story and as a way of introducing Simon Cole's composition, "A Northern Tale."

This piece, based on a children's playground chant (best remembered in its nasty form as "Nyaa, nya, nya, nyaaa, nya") is combined with a story to tell the tale of the One Song which, rather like the Force, flows through and can be found in, everything. Samples of its variations included the seasons, water, mountain music, wind music and the music of living creatures, each with a distinctive rendering of the tune.

A crisis point arrives when the One Song is perverted and lost, and the audience is then invited to join in the hunt. Students are asked to select the missing note, help find the beat, and locate the source of the song,, which turns out to be in a voice rather than in instruments.

With the quest successfully concluded, each musician took a turn in displaying the features, sounds and range of his or her instrument. The quartet demonstrated its flexibility by playing both Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and Mancinis' "Pink Panther".

Likening the construction of a song to the building of a house, Zukerman built a tune from basement to roof before the audience, and then invited a young player up to help the group close with a spirited rendition of the theme music from "The Simpsons."

"There are outlying areas even beyond what the people in Toronto and Vancouver consider outlying areas,' Zukerman said later. "I do this all round the world."

He is extremely grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Music Performance Trust Fund for financing the trip, which was also supported by Yukon Education and Whitehorse Concerts.

One of his concerns is that the recording industry poses an enormous threat to the continued existence of live music other than pop music. He is convinced that something precious would be lost if people no longer got to hear this sort of material except on audio recordings.

"It's exciting for us," he said. "At my time in my career I can still go and play in the international centers, but this is just as important. It's maybe a way of paying a bit of what I've had. I've had a good run and a good career."

For school concerts Zukerman said that he feels the musician has to be prepared to leave his or her ego behind.

"Nobody cares about your repertoire. They're not interested in a Haydn string quartet. We'd love to play it, but that's not the issue. The issue is to use music as a mind of a communication."

He cited the musical phrase used in Cole's "A Northern Tale", a chant that he says he has heard children use all around the world. It's everywhere, he said, and we all need to learn to appreciate it.

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