Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 26, 2001

Lois Hendley's mural can be seen at the Bonanza Gold Motel. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

B.C. Artist Adds to Dawson's Picturesque Look
Another Year with No Arena
B.C. Artist Adds to Dawson's Picturesque Look
Work on Dawson Tanker Base Starts
Still Feisty After All These Years
Steven Heighton: Living Out a Dream
The Coyote Howls in the City
Artist's Trading Cards
Dawson Rector is now Klondike Archdeacon
Junior Rangers on the Move Last Summer
Uffish Thoughts: Burning Brush and Beaver Dreams

Welcome to the Oct. 26, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 19 photographs and 35 articles which were in the 28-page Oct. 23 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, several poems 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.

B.C. Artist Adds to Dawson's Picturesque Look

Artist Lois Hendley" a long time resident of Ross River" was inspired at an early age to appreciate the gift to paint. Being a camp cook at a very young age she was able to travel a lot and enjoy the wildlife and fantastic scenery of the Yukon and the N.W.T. For over twenty years she had been painting everything from canvas to recycled objects such as saw blades, shovels, lanterns, and gold pans just to name a few.

For three years she has been painting full time and has recently begun a "Paint the Town" mural for Chase, B.C. At this time she is living in Dawson City, working for her brother, John Hendley at the Bonanza Gold Motel. She has just completed a mural on the end of the motel and hopes to do more murals this coming spring. The mural is on the side of the new 18 rooms called the West Wing, that were added under the supervision of contractor Jack Vogt.

It has been proven that a mural is very beneficial to the community as an added tourist attraction. The towns of Chemanius and Duck Lake, Sask., are proof that it works.

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Another Year with No Arena

by Dan Davidson


Minto Park was the setting for a well used outdoor rink last winter and will be again this year. Photo by Dan Davidson

It'll be another winter of outdoor hockey and figure skating for ice lovers here in Dawson City. Town council made this clear at the October 11 biweekly public meeting, but people who had seen the boards from last year already transferred to Minto Park and had listened to the coffee shop buzz already knew the sad truth.

The geotechnical engineers evaluating the recreation centre had passed the word that the ground on one side of the arena had been exposed to too much warm weather over the summer and had thawed below the surface layer. In simple terms. the concrete needed for the arena floor and the floor of the curling rink could not be poured this fall.

That was the advice of the geotech people and, in the words of Councillor Byrun Shandler, a member of the project management team (which includes two councillors, the contractors and consultants and a person from YTG), "We are not about to go against our engineering recommendation."

The main contractor, TSL, had indicated that the concrete could be poured, and that the chances of this causing problems down the road were not large, but council wants a facility that will last for decades without major problems and the notion of one end of the arena pad cracking badly or sinking into the foundation is daunting.

"We've said, give us some alternatives ... come up with a time line.

"We're dealing with it as defined by the tendered contract," Shandler said. "We're not releasing anybody from any responsibilities that they have on that project. We are not shutting down any segment of that project, not eliminating or withdrawing any segment of that project."

Council argued back and forth for some minutes on the timing of a public meeting to air all the facts in the case. Mayor Everitt wanted to schedule the meeting in November. Shandler and Wayne Potoroka, who sit on the PMT, wanted it sooner, but quickly discovered that there were scheduling problems, since all of them had appointments in their real life jobs which were going to take them out of the community over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the boards from last year's outdoor rink are being assembled in Minto Park and the recreation department has been directed to use that area as the basis for its program planning as far as skating is concerned. That area, as well as the flooded tennis/basketball court next to it, was well used last winter, but it does depend a lot on the weather.

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Work on Dawson Tanker Base Starts

The expansion of the Dawson City air tanker base and initial attack base to combat forest fires is under way following a $2-million contribution by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND).

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Dawson City fire personnel will be located at the town's airport along with fire management's air operations and equipment.

"We have been waiting for the opportunity to expand and enhance the capabilities of the air tanker base in Dawson for quite some time," DIAND Minister Bob Nault said in a statement Tuesday. "We can be much more effective when our fire crews, aircraft and resources are in one central location."

A total of $1.2 million is earmarked for the air tanker base. An additional $800,000 is designated to the Dawson initial fire attack base for upgrades and relocation.

In addition to funding for the Dawson facilities, $300,000 has been designated for the Whitehorse air tanker base to fulfill environmental responsibilities on the base, including the re-pavement of the retardant area. Local companies were awarded all three contracts and most have already started work.

Ketza Construction of Whitehorse has completed site preparations at the Dawson base.

Han Construction of Dawson and Narrow Gauge Contracting from Whitehorse will begin operations at the Dawson base.

Skookum Asphalt will be working on upgrades to the Whitehorse air tanker base. The projects have an estimated completion date of December. Operations will be up and running by the start of next year's fire season.

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Still Feisty After All These Years

by Dan Davidson


The birthday girl: Madeleine Gold was clearly delighted with her computer controlled electric blanket. Photo by Dan Davidson

Friends and family of Madeleine Gould gathered at Amica's Restaurant on Saturday (October 6) night to celebrate her 80th birthday. It was an evening of snacks and drinks and lots of presents for the feisty octogenarian, who was full of vinegar for the occasion.

Presented with a computer controlled (with a "brain") electric blanket as one of her gifts, she quipped, "Oh, good, I've been needing one of those."

Asked if she meant the blanket, she shot back, "No. The Brain."

She'd been tricked into attending the party by her husband, John, who had simply told her he was taking her out for beans, and that the family would be there. Well, they were, along with fifty or so other people.

Madeleine could be seen around the town most any day during the spring summer and fall, pedalling her three wheel bicycle and collecting recyclables, the proceeds of which she donates to the Robert Service School choir. She is a mainstay of the breakfast for learning program at RSS.

She is a member of the Klondyke Centennials Society and works a regular volunteer shift at that office during the tourist season.

She is involved with CFYT-fm, the local radio station, and shoots kids' birthday photos for the Klondike Sun newspaper.

She is also noted for having an opinion on everything and never being afraid to voice it. In the 1980s and 90s she was the most visible of several women who attempted to force the Yukon Order of Pioneers to accept female members. The case went to the Supreme Court, and caused her to be a mystery guest on Front Page Challenge.

If more people half her age had her energy there wouldn't be so many of the same faces on Dawson's many volunteer boards and committees.

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Steven Heighton: Living Out a Dream

by Dan Davidson


Steven Heighton at Berton House. Photo by Dan Davidson

Steven Heighton had Berton House on his mind for a long time before he managed to get here.

"I've known about it for quite some time, since the first guest writer came, Russell Smith, a friend of mine. He wrote a little piece for the Writers' Union of Canada newsletter, and he went on and on about how great it was.

"Everything he's told me about his time here has been positive. I decided at that point (1996) that I had to apply."

One thing and another, including another retreat in New Mexico, got in the way until about two year's ago, when he finally put in an application. At that time he wasn't sure what he would be working on when he got here, but he'd already written one and been a finalist for the Governor General's Award twice, so he felt the committee could count on him to be productive.

Aside from that, Heighton is one of those rare writers who actually makes a living from his words instead of working at something for a living and writing when he can squeeze it in. He's the first to admit that it's not a plush living ("frugal" he calls it), but it supports his wife and daughter, so he's happy.

"I'm doing what I dreamed of doing with my life, and I don't have a single complaint really."

He can't remember when he didn't write, and figures the urge has something to do with his father, a high school English teacher, who loved books and language and used to stride about their house declaiming snatches of poetry.

"He was a very theatrical man, and he used to wander through the house just bellowing out lines of Shakespeare, Yeats or Elliot ... Chaucer in the old Middle English. He loved all that stuff. That must have had a pretty strong effect.

"The house was just full of books. There was hardly a bare wall anywhere. The rooms were smaller because there were so many books in them."

Even now, Steven will stop in mid-sentence and comment on or revise his choice of words, critiquing or savouring the moment.

It's easier to say what types of writing Steven Heighton hasn't done: drama. Everything else - poetry, short stories, novels, essays, translation - has fallen from his fingers. He even edited Quarry magazine for six years.

These days Heighton looks a little different than the photos you find on the backs of his books. He's still lean, but his long, center-parted curly hair has given way to shorter, slightly unruly look, like Bruce Springsteen on the cover of the 1986 live album. He loves to run - not jog, run, until his mind has moved into a space dictated by the rhythm of his feet and his eyes are totally taken up with just watching where his feet have to go.

In Dawson, he's been all around the town, up the side of the Dome, berry picking under the Moosehide Slide. The biggest temptation has been to be outdoors too much, soaking up the departing sun. He said it reminds him a bit of working in Alberta resorts twenty years ago.

He doesn't have to squirrel himself away to write, and could often be found scribbling away at Klondike Kate's earlier in September, or Riverwest later on. Yet, he curtained off the office area in Berton House, blocking the view through the living room windows and forcing himself to focus on his work when he was at it.

He's the first writer that anyone can remember using a typewriter, and the local committee had to scramble to find him one. Typewriters are for letters, longhand is for first drafts of poems and his laptop comes into play for other forms of writing, or when the first inspiration has cooled and it's time to get to the second draft.

Many writers have found Berton House to be the place where they could focus on being a writer for the first time, but Heighton already has that self-image, and spent his first few weeks finishing up assignments and works that were already in progress. He followed that up with some reading for research and then began to work on his project, which is a novel set in the north.

It's an idea he doesn't want to discuss, for fear of leeching the energy out of it, but it deals with some explorers in the high Arctic, and after he arrived in Dawson he discovered that Pierre Berton had written a section on it in his book The Arctic Grail.

At the time of this interview he was expecting to begin actual writing on the book in early October.

"I'll be writing 8 or 9 hours a day, just sitting here. Fortunately it will be darker by then, the casino will be closed and it will be colder. I can hardly stay inside on these days, you know?

One thing that Dawson has done is rearranged his day. At home in Kingston he works in his study, with his young daughter never that far away.

"I work at home, so I'm used to seeing her all the time. Sometimes, I feel like I'm the writer in residence at a daycare. She and her friends are constantly running up and down the hall outside my study, bursting in with 'Here's a cookie for you Daddy!' - trying to propitiate the monster before he snarls."

Here, his days tended to stretch into the wee hours of the morning, out to 4 or 5 a.m., with a consequent shift in waking and working time.

While he was looking forward to spending all of October at Berton House, Heighton was called away early in mid-month, when his mother took seriously ill back in Ontario. He is clearly one writer who is going to carry a lot of the place away with him in his heart.

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The Coyote Howls in the City

by Dan Davidson


Urban Coyote editors Michele Genest and Dianne Homan strike a pose with Lost Moose Publishing representative Max Fraser. Photo by Dan Davidson

It was time for the coyote to howl a bit on Friday night, as about 70 people turned out to the official launching of the new Yukon anthology, Urban Coyote, held at the Yukon Transportation Museum. There was actually quite a bit of howling and cheering, and you could be forgiven, at times, for thinking that you had wandered into some sort of a folk festival.

Where did Urban Coyote come from? Co-editor Dianne Homan told the crowd it was probably fated to exist.

"Somehow this keeps coming into my mind about how when I was 24 years old. I was living in San Diego which is a climatologically very boring place to live, and I went to my local library and just happened upon this shelf of books that had things about the pipeline project.

"All of a sudden I felt myself incredibly drawn to this part of the world that I don't think I had ever given one thought to before. A few years after that I picked up Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams and I was a goner. I said, 'I have to go north.'

"It was books that brought me north ... so somehow there was a book meant to happen in my future here in the north."

Miche Genest, the book's other editor, confirmed Homan's influence.

"Putting together a project like this is so much of a collaboration, and I was really lucky with my major collaborator, Dianne Homan, whose idea this was, and who has continued to be a galvanizing force throughout this year long gestation period."

Genest was feeling like it was just a bit more than that, though. Just this year the territory has seen the launch of an occasional literary magazine, Out of Service and the beginning of Patricia Roberston's new imprint.

"I wanna just be a little bit grandiose for a moment and say that I think what we're seeing here, not just with the publication of Urban Coyote, but with all the activity that's going on in writing and in the literary world, we could possibly be in at the birth of what might eventually be a great regional literature, that will equal the literature of Saskatchewan, of Alberta, of the Maritime Provinces.

"I think we're on the brink of starting this here."

Max Fraser, representing the publisher, Lost Moose Books, was equally effusive in his introduction to Homan and Genest.

"Urban Coyote follows in the tradition of what I call community publishing, where a lot of people make a contribution to a publication and we get a great result.

"It was quite a pleasurable experience - most of the time - working with these two because of their energy and enthusiasm.

"Writing is a tough, tough task. The quality of the writing that we have in this anthology is just superb. I think that all of the writers should be proud of themselves for creating the work that they did."

But the Yukon is a pretty small market and you have to ask if the book will fly in the south? He thought it would.

"I was exchanging e-mails with our sales reps down south just this morning. They're quite excited by this book ... and they're going to be pushing (it) quite hard to retailers across the country."

Friday wasn't a great day as weather goes in the city of Whitehorse. Dianne Homan, still full of nervous jitters, talked a little bit about her day.

"We were looking at the weather this afternoon saying, 'Oh no, they're all gonna stay home cause the roads are gonna be bad,' but you're all here and that's great."

Many of the book's contributors were on hand to autograph copies and read some of their work. Readers included Patricia Robertson, Dean Eyre, Michael Reynolds, and Jenny Trapnell.

Eyre joined with dancer Gail Lotenberg (of Link Dance) to present Lisa Guenther's poem, "Sauniq".

Mid-way through the evening Bodra Aliyah was joined on stage by Lonnie Powell and Aylie Sparks to present another kind of poetry, that set to music.

A second performance closed the official part of the evening as Daniel Janke, Amanda Leslie and Mairi MacRae combined their talents to perform Lawrie Crawford's "Variations on Gestalt: a Monologue in E."

In between and during all of this, the coffee, wine and beer flowed from the tables at the back of the room and the cakes and pizza sold well too. The proceeds went to cover the rental of the hall.

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Artist's Trading Cards

by Palma Berger


Why not have a trading card that really looks good? Photo by Dan Davidson

Remember the fun of trading those sports cards? Looking at what others had, hearing the stories of how they were acquired and what they meant to the owners. That was the surface of it, but underneath was the main thing, the chance to socialize. The chance to sit around with other people and chat, and maybe goof off a bit.

A similar thing has come to Dawson, but it is not the hockey cards that are the focal point of the gathering, it is Art Cards. These cards are 2 by 3 inch and are the creation of each person. The creators gather in the back room of the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture on the last Saturday of each month to trade these art cards.

This is open to young, old, in betweens, anyone with a yen to create something. One does not have to be a great artist, one just has to have an idea that can be expressed in painting, photograph, rubberstamping, drawing or collage and is done on a 2 x 3.5 inch card. These cards, therefore, are highly individualized. They can be a serious rendition, light-hearted, a joke, a comment in art form on something, or just a lovely thought of the creator.

How did this idea come to Dawson? It came with Paul Henderson who came to Dawson last year to attend the Arts for Employment course, and stayed. He had been involved in this elsewhere, and thought it fun so got the trading cards going in Dawson.

But where did the idea come from originally?

It was initiated by a Swiss artist, Vanci Stirneman, who got the germ of the idea after a 1988 visit to Calgary, where he was surprised at the brisk trade in hockey cards going on there. He further developed the idea in 1990 when he returned there as artist-in-residence, and by 1997 the first trading art cards swap took place in Zurich, Switzerland. Don Mabie attended this and was so enthused he brought the idea back to Calgary from whence it has spread to other parts of Canada. It had already spread to the rest of the world.

The beauty of this activity is that there are no boundaries, as in country, social class, talent, or age. There is just the fun of getting together.

The only competition is in the case of some who proudly boast, I have albums of 300 (or 3000) of them. Well, we will always have those, but in the meantime, it is fun to have a bit of someone's creative self on a 2 x 3 in. card.

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Dawson Rector is now Klondike Archdeacon

by Flo Whyard
Original in Whitehorse Star, October 17, 2001

The Venerable John Tyrrell, rector of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Dawson City, became the Archdeacon of Klondike last Sunday when the Bishop of Yukon, the Rt. Rev. Terry Buckle, officiated at the collation service in Christ Church Cathedral at Whitehorse.

As well, five lay ministers were licensed by the bishop during the service of commissioning:

Also licensed were Ron Veale and Ellen Zimmerman as Chalice Administrators in Christ Church Cathedral. Visitors from many Yukon communities were present. The Venerable Sean Murphy, of Fort Nelson, B.C., Archdeacon of Liard, preached the sermon, reminding the congregation there is a greater power overcoming any Earthly terror.

Welcomed by friends during the coffee hour were Vancouver visitors Jim and Diamond Quong, active members of the cathedral parish in Whitehorse for many years.

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Junior Rangers on the Move Last Summer

by Janet Bell, Youth Enhancement
Junior Canadian Ranger Exercise Skookum Ptarmigan


The Junior Rangers cross a ravine. Photo submitted

This past August 19th to 26th, David Fraser and Kevin Mendelsohn, with myself, Janet Bell as an escort, had the privilege of attending exercise Skookum Ptarmigan as the Dawson representatives. Exercise Skookum Ptarmigan was based at the Whitehorse Cadet Camp, and brought together over eighty participants from 30 different communities. Junior Rangers and their escorts came from places as far south as Vancouver Island, and as far North as Grise Fiord.

This was an intense week of new experiences and learning. The program included horseback riding, rope bridge crossing, a shooting range, canoeing, river rescue, a day of shopping, water safety, ATVs, a movie, capture of the flag, and white water rafting. Wow! Exercise Skookum Ptarmigan was a chance to challenge yourself. All of the activities were very safe, but throwing your body off a 70 foot cliff (rappelling) or throwing yourself into a freezing cold raging river (white water rafting) certainly makes you extend your perspective!

Another big part of Skookum Ptarmigan was meeting so many people from such varied backgrounds. Some of the participants from Nunavut saw trees for the first time!

Even the marching and the parades were okay. The excellent staff (composed of 'Regulars' in the Canadian Military) made sure that the standing at attention was kept to a minimum, to ensure the maximum amount of the good stuff.

I can hardly wait till next year. If you are interested in joining please contact John Mitchell at 993-5220.

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Uffish Thoughts: Burning Brush and Beaver Dreams

by Dan Davidson


Brush piles along the road look uncannily like giant beaver lodges. Photo by Dan Davidson

It looks like a bunch of Beringian beavers have gone crazy along the Klondike Highway between Moose Creek and the Tintina Trench lookoff.

Great piles of mangled brush and trees, probably close to 3 metres high, lie in rows along both sides of the highway, marking the route for the contentious Mayo to Dawson power line.

The intellect knows what they really are, but they look so much like beaver lodges that you can't escape the fantasy. Somehow the beavers have gotten it into their heads that the annual ungulate migrations are a bad thing, and these mounds are the first stage in a Great Wall of Tintina which will cut the territory in two when it's done.

Or...

The rambunctious rodents have taken pity on the migrating herds and have decided to put an end to highway hunting by providing them with a series of shelters leading all the way north. later they will link it all up and snowmobiles hunters will lose the easy access to woods and tundra, thus evening the odds and increasing the size of the herds.

Not really, though.

In fact the right of way has been cleared to a fare thee well, and the detritus has been shoved into these piles for burning. I watched on October 1 as a crew lit one of these great mounds. It was a damp, foggy afternoon and the wood was reluctant to catch, but the workers were persistent and curious as to why I would be taking their picture at this mundane task.

Two weeks later some piles were reduced to ash, which I am told will be spread around the right of way.

Others were burning so fiercely that smoke warning signs had been posted for kilometres along the road and the haze was nearly that of a forest fire, but not so intense.

Travelling between October 12 and 14 it became clear that these lodges do not go up in a puff of smoke and flame. There were some doing that at first, but the majority smouldered on, oozing the denser smoker of a poorly ventilated fire as the heat slowly ate its way to the centre of that mound of wood, grass and topsoil and then up to the sky, collapsing the mass in on itself and slowing the process still more.

I stopped once again on that last day, and a crewman told me that an average pile took about a week to burn down to half a metre of ash and sludge. Sludge, because by now the first snows of winter have hit the high country and anywhere the sun still has its lease it manages to dissolve the first few whitefalls and take the hoarfrost off the trees.

He was puzzled that I should have asked, but not nervous, since I wasn't taking pictures this time.

The highway always seems to have a tale to tell, if you can take the time to listen. This one may have turned out to be quite prosaic, but it'll be a while before I forget those beaver dreams.

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