Dawson City, Yukon Friday, September 14, 2001

These guys may be Old Enough to Know Better, but they won the race anyway and had a great time doing it. L-R: Martin Kienzler, Jim Williams, Tim Coonen, Halin de Repentigny. Ralph Nordling is out of sight. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Geezers Rule at the Outhouse Race
Conferencing Leads to Consequences for Break-in
Celebrating the Making of the Klondike
CD Review: Second Verse, Same As The First?
Latin Jazz at the Odd Hall
Jayne West Saves the Day at the Oddfellows Hall
Following in the Footsteps of Jack London
Work Begins on Dredge #4
Grade Six Visits the Goldfields

Welcome to the Sept. 14, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 29 photographs and 31 articles which were in the 28 page Sept. 11 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, the two winning poems and one junior short story in the Heart of the Klondike contest as well as a great new story by Jack Fraser, 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.

Geezers Rule at the Outhouse Race

by Dan Davidson

Age and experience beat out youth and good looks in the 2001 edition of the Klondike Outhouse Race as a team of over-forty types who called themselves Old Enough to Know Better defeated last year's winners, the Gastronauts.

All the teams at this year's race finished within a few minutes of each other, but that wasn't the only near thing about this year's race.

According to Phoebe Rumsey, the special events coordinator for the Klondike Visitor's Association, it was a near thing whether the event actually happened.

As of August 29 there was only one team signed up for the race, last year's winners from Lone Wolf Entertainment, who run the shows at the Palace Grand and Diamond Tooth Gerties. The outlook wasn't hopeful, which would have been a bad thing, because this year's race had some new twists and turns in it.

At the last minute the owners of Bombay Peggy's Victorian Inn stepped in and started signing up teams, adding three more to the roster, enough to equal last year's race.

Co-owner Kim Bouzane says that much of the credit for this 11th hour rescue effort must be given to Jen Leece and Erin Suggitt. Jen works in the pub and was on the decorating and recruiting committee, while Erin helped potential teams with their decorations.

In the end four teams splashed off through the muddy streets, bent on a combination race and scavenger hunt. It had rained all morning and Kevin Ledding, who was on last year's winning team, said that the conditions made the race a lot tougher.

Rumsey explained the scavenger hunt as being a way to get the businesses of Dawson in on the event. In the past most of the stops have tended to be at the bars, but this year the teams had to find items at several stores as well as restaurants.

"At Dawson Hardware they had to find a 3 1/5 inch gold deck screw. At Peggy's they had to get an umbrella - which means a drink umbrella. At Peabody's they had to get a Polaroid taken of them, and the outhouse had to be somewhere in the picture."

The photography shop actually volunteered for this and suggested the item.

This hunting meant that speed on the street wasn't the only issue in this year's race. As Ledding noted, it also meant that the runners got to stop every so often while the rider went in search of the prize to match the sometimes vague clues.

"They had to get the salad of the day (written down) from Klondike Kate's. a coaster from Gerties and a pastry from Riverwest."

Under the slick conditions Ledding's crew lost its rider at one point. She ended up flat on her back in the muck. That may have been when they lost their umbrella as well, for that was missing from their bag of goodies when they got back. Those two faults cost them their lead position. Though they arrived back first, their official time, after penalties, was third. One of their runners also lost her lunch somewhere in the street, but there was no penalty for that and she kept right on running.

The geezers were actually the third team to roll in, but they had everything they needed to have and lost no one along the way. This team consisted of Father Tim Coonen, artist Halin de Repentigny, carpenter Jim Williams, miner and mechanic Ralph Nordling and forestry worker Martin Kienzler.

From West Dawson came a crew called the Bridge to Nowhere, and the final team was called I Da Ho.

None of the four teams had the energy or momentum to actually break the orange engineer's survey tape that marked the finish line. It simply stretched as they ran past it. The actual race took about 25 minutes and they were bushed when they arrived back at the Museum.

Later that evening, at Gerties, the other part of the contest was completed as the four teams read the limericks they had composed for with the race and learned how they had scored.

Old Enough to Know Better took home $200 as the race winners and a set of gold medallions for the best limerick.

The Gastronauts won $250 for the most original outhouse and the runner-up medallions in the poetry contest.

The other teams were given "I really won but the judges didn't see me" prizes as good sports.

The consensus was that novelty parts of the race made it worthwhile and that the scavenger hunt was a worthy addition to an old tradition.

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Conferencing Leads to Consequences for Break-in

by Dan Davidson


The Robert Service School was the site of a break in late last May. Entry was gained through this Fourth Avenue rear entrance. Photo by Dan Davidson

Five young men of senior high school age are looking at several months of reduced access to the Robert Service School, a total fine of $500 and 50 hours of janitorial work as a result of breaking into the school building last May on the next to last day of the school year.

The young men have also issued an apology to the community for their actions of that night, though their names remain anonymous as a result of decisions taken at the circle conference where these consequences were determined.

The break-in was discovered during the staff's year end non-instructional day. All of the classrooms in the high school section of the school had been entered. most by climbing on top of the lockers and passing through the drop ceilings covering the utility connections.

Apparently the five entered the building via the Industrial Arts Entrance and gained access to the second floor of the building by means of a utility passage which led to a custodial closet from the shop. One of them only went as far as the shop and then left.

In most classrooms only minor damage was done, except the French room, where one young man misjudged his balance and broke through the ceiling tiles, breaking their supports as well. He suffered minor injuries.

A portable computer disk drive was stolen from the science lab and various mischief was done there. The drive was returned later on.

RCMP Constable

Pratt indicated that the cases was pretty well solved within two days, after an extensive examination of the physical evidence at the scene. Information from people who knew the young men was key in establishing just who they were.

The five court dockets were referred to the Dawson Community Group Conferencing Society for action. A conference was called for the afternoon of the Discovery Days holiday Monday. It took about 3 hours to go through the stories told by the young men, the reactions of their families, the RCMP and some of the teachers from the school.

The consequences were determined through negotiation and discussion from a list of suggestions prepared by Principal Denis Gauthier. In addition to the items already mentioned, the youths will have to submit a letter of apology to the school, and agreed to have this article submitted to the local paper.

Each young man accepted responsibility for his actions and said that he regretted the inconvenience that his behavior had caused everyone else involved in the case, including teachers, parents, fellow students, the police and school custodial workers.

Three of the lads are suspended from all school extra-curricular activities until December 20, while the other two may rejoin such events after October 30.

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Celebrating the Making of the Klondike

by Dan Davidson


Local historian John Gould tells the crowd a bit about his boyhood school chum and lifelong friend, Pierre Berton during the Authors on Eighth Open House. Photo by Dan Davidson

One of the events that really made a lot of sense during last month's Discovery Festival was the celebration of writers along what they called the Authors on Eighth Open House.

After all, gold may have been the beginning of this place as it is today, but it would never have survived without the writers who expanded on its moment in the sun and made it world famous. Its origins, after all, are not a great deal different than those of Barkerville (an impressively preserved ghost town, but a ghost town nonetheless) or many nameless towns that have since vanished from the face of the earth.

Words took this place to the fame it achieved 105 years ago. Without the popular press that multiplied the effect of the strike when the first miners got off those boats, the subsequent rush wouldn't have been as impressive as it was, nor would it have gathered people from so many corners of the continent - the planet, even.

Among them, of course, was Jack London, a scrappy kid who had yet to find his voice and subject as a writer, and who really thought that if he could strike it rich he'd be able to take enough time off from making a living to get something published. Little did he know that the gold he would strike here would form a vein running through his life's work, something to which he would return even after he had figured out how to mine some of his other experiences to the same effect.

Later there came Robert Service, who had spent most of his youth in search of adventure and stimulation and who, unlike London, came much later to the creative life, and quite by accident as well. The poems that he produced, first in Whitehorse and then in Dawson, picked up the gold rush mythology and made it quirky and a gave it a more human scale.

Then came Pierre Berton, who lived in the remains of what these men had absorbed, who sucked it up so as a schoolboy, and later as a young man working the goldfields, that it could hardly help but come out of him somewhere, you would think. And yet he was the one, of his generation, to see the Klondike Gold Rush on an even larger scale. Yes, it was a personal adventure and yes, it was mythic is scope, but more, it was historic, part of the movement of humanity that helped to knit this country together. It became the inspiration for his life's work as a popular historian and, in turn, inspired the interest of other historians and guardians of our cultural heritage.

The event, then, was to take the tour around all three buildings. The London and Service cabins on Eighth Avenue, and Berton House, just across the street from Service.

A substantial crowd of folks dropped in on all three sites, and listened to presentations on all three authors as well as contest entries on the theme "The Heart of the Klondike". Prizes were awarded for poetry and prose in adult and children's categories, but the prizes were really a lot less important than the event itself, which recognized the power of words to shape and sustain a way of life.

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CD Review: Second Verse, Same As The First?

by "Jay Strummer"

One of the Yukon's favourite musicians, Kim Barlow, has just released her second CD. The follow up to 1999's critically acclaimed Humminah is hitting the stores this week. The sophomore effort entitled Gingerbread is as much fun, if not more so, than Barlow's first record.

Kim is well known for being both a talented multi-instrumentalist and a fantastic songwriter. Although she is originally from Nova Scotia, she has been living in the North for 10 years and her songs are full of the people, places, and experiences she has gained as a Yukoner.

Her first album was a cornucopia of imagery, from the first northern boy she fell for The first time I saw Brian / He had moose blood all over his hands / I'd never loved a redneck hunter before / So I thought I would give it a try to the time she was hit by a car and what happened to the driver It happened again just like they said / but it was a cliff not a field this time / Now the drunk driver is dead.

With Gingerbread, Barlow has grown both musically and lyrically. The songs tell stories of real people and real experiences, and the musicianship is second to none. Barlow studied classical guitar, earning a music degree from Florida State University. She is equally adept with clawhammer banjo, as well as using the cello to produce a wide range of sounds from haunting classical melodies to slap-and-thump bass lines. Blending her classical training with roots and other contemporary influences, she takes folk music to the extreme.

Joining her on the new record is a north-south collection of tremendously skilled artists including Whitehorse's Lonnie Powell on drums and percussion, and Andrea McColeman on keyboards, marimba, and harmony vocals. Rounding out the core of the group is Winnipeg bass player Don Benedictson. Special appearances come by Daniel Janke adding the African kora sound, Undertakin' Daddy Bob Hamilton lending a few guitar licks, and Anne Louise Genest on harmony vocals round out the Yukon talent.

Also making appearances on the record are some of Vancouver's best players, including Veda Hille and Martin Walton, Spirit of the West's John Mann, The Showbusiness Giants' Ford Pier, and Zubot & Dawson. Walton is travelling up from BC to appear along with Barlow, McColeman, and Powell when Kim celebrates her CD release at the Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City on Saturday September 15.

Gingerbread's edgy, imaginative songs return to Barlow's favourite themes, including summer flings, garage sales, and the beauty of the land around her. The songs are rooted in the Yukon but they have wide appeal, as witnessed by the amount of airplay they receive on national networks including CBC Radio One and the Galaxie network.

Passengers Gorgeous and Anthony's Summer were both inspired by the Yukon Journey Project in the summer of 2000. Barlow, along with a group of songwriters, musicians, and choreographers from throughout Canada, travelled the Yukon to gain inspiration for a variety of works that are being performed across the country. Anthony's Summer is a particularly northern flavoured piece about the Tombstone Mountains and an experience that everyone who comes to the Yukon has experienced at least a part of; Oh summer a summer of wonder a hummer a lover / a leaf set in stone he'll hang onto forever / he thought about leaving in June when it snowed but he got drunk instead / on the sun circling endlessly overhead.

Barlow's ever-maturing sense of a good writing has made her one of the most successful touring artists in the Yukon. She may attract attention because of where she comes from, but as soon as the listener turns on track one they begin to realize that she is more than just a country girl singing about her home. Gingerbread starts out with a bang and only gets better; these songs are destined to become Canadian classics.

In a world where many musicians with fantastic debuts fall prey to sophomore blues, it's wonderful when an artist can make the second effort twice as good as the first. Anyone wanting to know how this is done need only pick up a copy of Gingerbread and learn by example.

Kim Barlow's Gingerbread is released by Caribou Records and distributed nationally by Festival Distribution. It is available in Dawson City at Maximilian's.

Kim Barlow and guests will appear at the Palace Grand Theatre Saturday September 15 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $10 advance (Maximilian's) and $12 at the door. Presented by Caribou Records and the Dawson City Music Festival.

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Latin Jazz at the Odd Hall

by Dan Davidson


Paul Lucas, Lonnie Powell and Daniel Janke livened up the Oddfellows Ballroom the Sunday before Discovery Festival. Photo by Dan Davidson

A Latin Interlude might have been a working title for the latest in the summer series of Sunday concerts put on by the Dawson City Music Festival and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture at the Oddfellows' Hall. The trio of Paul Lucas, Daniel Janke and Lonnie Powell performed with a predominantly Latin lilt for the discriminating audience, who were much quieter than the folks who had insisted of visiting during the Music Festival Volunteers Party the night before.

Janke commented on how nice it was to be heard for a change.

Lucas is a talented guitar plucker from Atlin, who works in two main styles, depending on whether he's fingering the electric strings or, as was more the case on this afternoon, the classical jazz guitar.

Plugged in, he bears some aural resemblance to Wes Montgomery, while his attack on the acoustic instrument reminds one of Charlie Bird. Most of the material played this afternoon was in the latter vein, some of it from South American composers and some from Lucas himself. At such times the concert was by the Paul Lucas Trio, with Janke on his weird stand-up electric bass and Powell on a set of jazz drums cannibalized from a rock set that had been the only thing handy when they arrived.

When Janke left the bass and moved to the kora or piano, as he did for several numbers just to vary the pace, then the leadership shifted and it was more like the Daniel Janke Trio. Janke's kora work is ethereal and soothing, while his piano pieces, especially the material he sang, tended to be in a vein he himself referred to a dark and moody.

Powell did sterling work in back of all of this, keeping a variety of percussion sounds in the air like a musical juggler. He did get one much appreciated extended solo during the last piece of the second set.

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Jayne West Saves the Day at the Oddfellows Hall

by Dan Davidson


Jayne West in the Oddfellows Ballroom. Photo by Dan Davidson

What do you do when you're the opening act for a Saturday night concert and the second act doesn't show up? If you're Jayne West, you dig deep into your repertoire and play another set.

That's what happened in Dawson at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture's final concert of the summer season when Ecka Janus didn't make it for her sound check and no one could locate her later on to find out what happened.

There was some sort of scheduling mix-up that no one at KIAC seems to have a clue about but, in spite of some disappointment over not seeing Janus, no one could seriously say that they weren't well and truly entertained that evening.

Jayne West is a tight, highly proficient trio of ladies who last performed here in concert in 1998, opening for Quartette at the Palace Grand Theatre.

Made up of Brenda Lee Katerenchuk on lead vocals and electric guitar, Ewa Dembek on bass and Andrea McColeman on accordion and percussion, this group established and maintained a smooth, coffee house style of jazzy, bluesy entertainment that kept the audience nodding and humming along for close to two hours.

Unlike some performers, Jayne West encourages humming, singing, finger snapping or whatever other reasonable involvement you want to have in the performance.

Named for a doll (action figure?) that Brenda Lee had when she was a child, Jayne West is symbolic of things that she wanted to do that everyone at the time seemed to think were a bit edgy, like playing electric guitar, for instance. Brenda Lee has evolved a style of fingering which allows her to dabble in folk, blues, jazz and some types of rock music with equal ease. Her rhythm playing is infectious and her solos always have something to do with the chording and melody line rather than being simplistic riffs.

Her voice is always her own, but it becomes shaded with the phrasings of the vocalists she likes to cover. She does a lot of Joan Armatrading, some Colleen Peterson, Chrissie Hynd, and Joanie Mitchell, but she plays with Bruce Cockburn, something that sounds like Leon Redbone and a lot of traditional material as well.

She also does a great trumpet solo - without a trumpet!

Holding down the bottom is Ewa, striding along the bass strings and adding vocal harmonies to Brenda's leads.

Andrea McColeman contributes vocals, as well as percussion and accordion, and is a mainstay in so many Yukon groups that one wonders if this is why Jayne doesn't come out to play more often.

Clearly the three of them enjoy this combination of talents and material, and it's a shame that none of it has been preserved on vinyl yet. Yet.

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Following in the Footsteps of Jack London

by Dan Davidson


David Dirk in the Charmian at the public dock in Dawson City. Photo by Dan Davidson

David Dirk and Sabina Kocks arrived in Dawson City on August 15, just a few days before the Discovery Festival weekend, little noticed by the public at large, even though their arrival marked the end of several years of planning.

They had built their vessel using hand tools the year before on Lake Bennett and they had spent several weeks sailing down the Yukon River in fulfillment of David's long cherished dream to retrace the gold rush route taken by Jack London. Sabina had returned to Germany not long after arriving in Dawson, but David made a point of staying for the Discovery Festival and for the reopening of the S.S. Keno, a week later.

David is a Frankfurt based carpentry instructor who spent a couple of years working on sailboats about a decade ago. While doing that he got the idea of building what he calls a "primitive water vehicle" and taking a wilderness adventure.

That turned out to be a log raft trip down the Yukon River to the Bering Sea with two other mates eight years ago. It wasn't enough for David. He wanted to come back.

"The second time I wanted to do it in a rowboat like Jack London," he said as we sat in his craft, the Charmian, at the public docks in Dawson, berthed between two local motor craft and across the dock from the Yukon Queen II.

London is a bit of a hero to David, whom he read avidly during his two year stint as a sailor in his early twenties. "There are some similarities between his life and my life. He was a sailor who came to the Klondike and he liked the wilderness, like me."

David doesn't see himself as a writer, but he's very keen on photography and video, and he has used the pictures from his first trip to lecture in schools in Germany, where the Yukon in a popular topic. He would like to do the same here, as he feels that there are many Yukoners who don't know much about the river other than the stretch of it that flows by their towns.

He was quite amazed, a few days before this interview, by the arrival of the contestants in the NMI Mobility Bathtub Race. He and Sabina had taken many weeks to experience the same course they rattled through in under 18 hours. He was aghast that they didn't really have a chance to see anything.

One of the reasons he decided to navigate the Yukon a second time was because he hadn't been able to make as many stops as he would have liked on the raft trip. His interest in Yukon history is exceptionally keen and he takes it very seriously.

"I'm reenacting London's trip technically, but not on the same time frame, because I stop along the way to visit all the historic gold rush places, so I can't do it as fast as Jack London."

This has been a two year project so far. Last year he and his partner scaled the Chilkoot, made the boat and sailed as far as Tagish Lake. This year they took eight weeks to make it to Dawson. Next year, sometime in June, as close to June 7 as he can make it, they will set out for Saint Michael's. He doesn't expect to make it in one season. For him the trip is the point as much as the destination.

The Charmian is a flat bottomed, plank boat, with a pointed bow and a flat stern, pieced together from unfinished lumber. It has two enormous oars which it would take to two people to wield. Alternatively, as oar can be used as a rudder when the sail is up, but this happens mostly on the lakes. Though it has no keel, it's dory-like construction tends to keep it from tipping, especially with the high side boards.

"Most of the time on the river we were going with the current and just using the oars a little bit to maneuver, stay off the sandbars and stay in the channel."

The boat is fitted out with a canvas wall tent which was their bedroom most nights along the way. David has constructed the boat cunningly, making use of every available opportunity to create little storage compartments and make open areas do double duty.

"When you look at old pictures of Dawson you can see that some of the stampeders stayed on their boats because there was no place to camp in Dawson. It was all covered with tents."

Most of the stampeders didn't name their boats, but the Charmian was christened in honour of Jack London's second wife. It also has a number, since all the boats of the day were given one. In Pierre Berton's Klondike David learned that officials had listed 7,124 of them.

'I'm the next one," he said. He numbered the Charmian 7,125.

The couple whipsawed a few of the boards themselves during the construction, just to get the feel of it, but bought the rest.

"There was a sawmill at Lake Bennett," David said, "and many of the stampeders did the same."

Though he was advised to steam the boards on the curved parts of the hull, he found that it took him five hours to steam each one inch thick plank and he gave up after two of them.

"It's nailed, just boat nails. I just bended the other ones and they didn't crack."

David strikes quite a figure in his old style pants and boots with his matching vest and slightly worn work shirt. He has an old floppy hat that he dons whenever he feels he is on display. While we were talking the Yukon Queen II was just pulling in from its daily run to Eagle and back. The passengers stared eagerly at David standing in his little boat on the other side of the dock, looking for all the world as if he had just stepped out of another time. Perhaps in some ways, he had.

With the Charmian stored for the winter, David Dirk was off to Frankfurt about two weeks after he arrived in Dawson. He'll be back next June for sure.

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Work Begins on Dredge #4

by Dan Davidson

Not all the work being done on Dredge #4, the largest of the dredges ever to ply the gold creeks, is restoration work.

Early morning visitors to the Dredge on August 27 had their tours interrupted as a pair of helicopters arrived to do a bit of heavy lifting. As the whup-WHUP of the pressure waves from the rotors made conversation impossible and tugged at hats and jackets, a cluster of mostly German tourists watched as operation began.

The job this day was to raise a steel framework to an upper deck of the 8 story vessel. This was not a replacement of equipment, but an addition.

After the Dredge was refloated in 1992, Parks Canada became aware that the new exposure and profile of the vessel was causing problems. There was a need for fans, ventilators, fire sprinklers and an alarm system to help keep the place safe, precautions that became even more evident after a smaller dredge on Hunker Creek was destroyed in a fire caused by some joy-riding partiers.

Power for all these systems was a problem, but this was solved by mounting solar cell panels high on the superstructure. The only problem was that, over time, the weight of the mounts was wearing on the beams.

This day's chopper lift, filmed by a second copter, was to set up a steel frame to carry the solar panels and spread the weight.

The operation only took about ten windblown minutes and then both whirlybirds were off again down the valley, leaving the tourists to resume their tour and, perhaps, to be thankful that they had been on the site for this little extra excitement.

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Grade Six Visits the Goldfields

by Tara Christie


Kids holding a gold bar, the final product after thousands of truck loads of waste are removed and ore processed. Photo submitted by RSS

On Wednesday the 29th of August, the Grade Six class from Robert Service School boarded the school bus to travel to Ross Mining on Dominion Creek.

The class accompanied by their teacher, Tarie Castellarin, Principle Dennis Gauthier and bus driver, Ron Ryant, arrived at Ross Mining at 11 am. Norm gave them a tour of his operations and described the process from exploration and drilling, to removing the overburden, sluicing (processing the ore), to final reclamation and requirements to protect the environment. The class learned that it takes and tremendous number of truck loads of ore to make one gold bar.

Also, it takes more than just some claims with gold and some capital to buy equipment to go placer mining nowadays. Before you even start you need a Mining Land Use Permit to start a testing program, and both a Mining Land Use Permit and Water License before you can start mining. In order to get these licenses you need to do a tremendous amount of planning from mining to final reclamation and site abandonment. At Ross mining there was a tremendous amount of re-growth on areas where reclamation work was done in 2000 and there were over 20 ducks swimming on last years settling pond.

Ross Mining is the largest operating placer mine in the Klondike, employing 15 people, 3 of whom are year round employees. The class was very impressed with the big equipment and had a great time climbing up and getting their pictures taken on the big Terex trucks.

Norm also gave the class a tour of his gold room and showed them how gold is separated out from waste materials, using only water. The class learned that there are no chemicals used in placer mining to recover gold. The final process is the melting of gold bars and the class was able to hold a gold bar and get their pictures taken with it.

Thanks to Norm Ross for taking the time for the tour and for providing a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. Thanks to Rick Riemer for arranging the trip with the school and for the Klondike Placer Miners Association for paying for the bus and for donating a few hats, t-shirts and lunch bags for the kids. We hope this is the start of an annual Grade 6 field trip to the gold fields.

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