|Students, tourists and citizens picked the school as one of the best places to watch this moving drama in progress. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the September 17th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Sept. 14th hardcopy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 24 photographs and 19 news stories, the cartoon strips "Paws", "Mukluk & Honisukle", Albert Fuhre's cartoon and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
The Sun welcomes Karen McWilliam as our new advertising manager and production assistant. Karen was the successful applicant among a field of four. Her long experience as a volunteer with the Dawson Humane Society should give her a unique understanding of this volunteer group.
by Dan Davidson
There were all sorts of jokes flying around the streets and no small amount of rumour and misinformation as Dawson's city hall / fire hall building picked its way down Fifth Avenue and up Front Street during a marathon moving day on September 8.
Best joke: The new city letterhead will now read "City of Dawson / No Fixed Address"
Best suggestion: "You should have done this on Discovery Day weekend. Then we would have had a longer parade and the town would have won for best float."
Best redundant oversight: A small hand printed sign on the door of the main office, indicating that the building, now several metres off the ground, was closed for business.
Best misinformation (as the day grew longer): "They should have hired Ed Lacey to do this job. He would have done it better and it would be done by now."
Surely building mover extraordinaire Ed Lacey, out on the street masterminding the building's elephantine progress up Fifth Avenue, would have been happy to hear that one.
The administration building is just about square, 60.5 feet on the narrow side and 63 on the wider, according to city manager Jim Kincaid . Those 2.5 feet were the difference between success and failure on Fifth Avenue more than once. The initial squeeze between the Bonanza Recreation Centre and the Triple J Hotel was just the beginning of a five hour journey to Front Street.
The trip began just a block from the Robert Service School, which had no power for the rest of morning after 9 o'clock. No serious problem. Most classes have windows and many of them spent at least part of the morning inside the school year of on the front steps, watching the progress of the behemoth as it slowly lumbered by.
With the wheels supporting the structure almost touching the boardwalks on either side of the road, the work crews fore and aft of the building were kept busy removing banners from light poles, removing the poles themselves, taking out the metal barriers that mark off the fire hydrants, cutting down trees that could not be brushed aside.
At the Westmark Hotel the railing had to be removed from the boardwalk outside the front door so the elevated office building could straddle the walkway unimpeded.
Holland-America customers had to rise early this morning in order to catch breakfast and showers before the lights went out. Many of them joined the rest of the population in front of the school, making up a crowd which was, at times, several hundred strong.
At the swimming pool the metal fencing surrounding the enclosure was winched back to gain the necessary clearance.
Once past the Yukon Energy plant at the corner of Front and Fifth, it was pretty clear sailing until the downtown shopping core, where things ground to a halt while cars whose owners had not returned to them since the warning flyers had been placed under the windshield wipers earlier in the day, were towed away to make room for the biggest piece of rubber tire traffic Front Street has ever seen.
By evening the building was settled on its new lot as part of the City of Dawson compound near the ferry landing. The pad it will occupy is at the back of the lot, and it will take a bit of backing and filling to set it down just right, but after the trip it took on September 8, the rest should be easy.
by Dan Davidson
The Tr'ondek Hwech'in first nation gathered on August 28 to celebrate the election of their new chief and slate of councillors. The evening began with a hastily organized community feast and continued with speeches, gift giving and traditional singing.
Former chief and elder Percy Henry invited outgoing chief Steve Taylor and new chief Darren Taylor to the microphone for a few words of encouragement and blessing before the formal swearing in ceremony.
Henry asked that the new leaders of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in should strive their best to "lead your people in the right direction".
To the new council, made up of Jenny Christiansen, Edith Fraser, Clara Van Bibber and Art Christiansen, Henry said he wished "all council the best in the future. I hope that you get a fresh start...and do a good job."
Departing chief Steve Taylor addressed the crowd briefly.
"I'd just like to clarify one thing: you're not getting rid of me. There's still a lot I'm going to do."
Taylor led the swearing in ceremony, administering the oath of office, which was sworn by each of the newly elected councillors, beginning with Chief Darren Taylor, Steve's nephew.
"I, Darren Taylor ,do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will faithfully, truly, and to the best of my judgement, skills and ability, execute and perform the duties required of me as the Tr'ondek Hwech'in chief."
Each was presented with a dream catcher as a sign of the oath.
Darren Taylor thanked the "old chief and council ... for taking us where we are today. Not only the old chief and council, but past councillors. If it wasn't;'t for their wisdom and knowledge, I don't think we would have gone this far today."
With these words, he presented Steve Taylor with a gift, a box filled with a leather vest, slippers and mitts. Outgoing councillors Robert Rear, Debbie Nagano and Ronald Johnson also received gifts.
Freda Roberts told the crowd that that Steve Taylor's gifts simply appeared at the administration offices once the word had gone out that they would be needed. They came from Dawson, Old Crow and Pelly Crossing.
Angie Joseph-Rear, herself and former chief and councillor, gave an address emphasizing the cooperation which the leaders of the first nation have managed to develop over the last couple of decades. Steve Taylor developed some of his leadership abilities while while she was chief and he felt he had probably passed on some of that to his nephew, Darren.
There was a gentle warning that the first nation's leaders could expect to be guided from behind if they didn't stay on track.
"You know," Joseph-Rear said, "the geese that fly behind the leader are the ones that push and nip and encourage him to stay ahead. All of us have the responsibility to help and assist our new chief and councillors."
MLA Peter Jenkins took the podium to congratulate the newly elected.
"Welcome to the 'goldfish bowl,' as I call the world of politics." It's a crowed room, he told the group, and most of the time you can expect to be gawked at, overfed, overwatered and criticized.
"You'll be scrutinized, analyzed and critiqued, but I'm sure up to the task.
"On the positive side of this fishable, you'll have the means and the well being of your people, and you'll be key players in the socioeconomic life of your people."
Speaking on behalf of the City of Dawson, Councillor Shirley Pennell spoke of the successful working relationship between the two councils.
"The council I represent and your newly elected council have many projects and many visions which we hope we can bring to fruition. Those visions can be accomplished in the spirit of cooperation and hard work."
She had words of praise for departing chief Taylor and a small gift on behalf of her council.
The Han Dancers and Singers concluded the evening by chanting to the new council and then marching them out of the hall.
by Dan Davidson
There were no serious racers in the 23rd running of the Klondike International Outhouse Race, but those who did participate had a great time.
Seven teams took to the street this year, in an event which actually started about 15 minutes before the scheduled starting time. There would have been nine teams, but some of the other runners were tied up in the weekend long ball tournament taking place at Minto Park and the new Crocus Bluff ball diamond.
Last year's race had ten entries.
This was a year for costumes and play acting, and was notable for the return of a team from Klondike National Historic Sites, but also for the absence of teams from any of the mining operations in the region. No one came close to White Lightning's course record of around 9 minutes, but no one was trying that hard and Kevin Anderson's team wasn't there to push it.
Gerties's Sharks was a team made up of casino staff and the lads captured the lead in their shark-finned, tinfoiled four wheeler in 15 minutes and 2 seconds.
They were chased pretty hard by the 2nd place overall and 1st female team, Bonanza Leaks, made up of the high stepping Gerties Girls. They ran in 17:22. Later in the evening they tied for the best limerick when the awards were presented at Diamond Tooth Gerties.
Coming in 3rd overall and 1st mixed were five members of the Magnificent Seven team from the CAA and AAA organizations. These folks hailed from Seattle, Portland, and several western provinces and ran their balloon festooned entry in 20:52.
The 4th overall team was a mixed entry from Klondike National Historic Sites called The Effluent Society. They ran in 22:12, but were most notable for their politically conscious satire, which focussed on Dawson sewage issues and ended with a slam at the recent Sierra Club report card. Their motto was "Dawson won't take 'F' in crap from anybody!"
They tied with the Dukes Pukes of Hazard Dawson for the Most Original Outhouse.
The 5th overall team was the Dawson Dawgs, with a extended time of 42:41. Of course the ladies stopped to mark their territory almost constantly and to take on fresh supplies of liquid. They captured the Most Humorous Award and the Best Costumed Award this year and ended their race by getting down on all fours and drinking from a bowl of water.
As emcee Dominic Lloyd noted: "Several puns could be used ... a howling success or doggone good or the one we all know to be true 'Everything is going to the dogs in Dawson.'"
The two remaining teams did drag in but had problems.
The Dukes Pukes of Hazard Dawson actually clocked in at 17:11, but were close to disqualification even then "as a member was seen crawling across the finish line" unconnected with the rest of the team. Later, as the official statement continues, "A protest was launched by some of the Leeks who found it necessary to run over a Puke in order to maintain momentum..."
Race rules do forbid blocking manoeuvres, a fact which the Pukes seemed to have forgotten in the long stretch on Front Street.
The Old Geezers did finish the race, according to Mary Fitton, but no one seems to know quite how long they took to do it. Considering the unique nature of their entry and the fact that one of their members was over 80, that's remarkable.
The entry itself pushed the envelope a bit. A standard outhouse race biffy is outhouse shaped and up on two or more wheels. It has a working toilet seat and a front door as well as a roof. One member sits on the throne while four others propel the contraption around the course, which can be walked in about 45 minutes at a moderate pace.
The Geezers appeared with a medical commode on wheels, with an umbrella for a roof. Given the street conditions the crew had to carry the commode, walker, intravenous stand and assorted goodies rather than be carried by it. The judges ruled that they could run anyway.
Now they didn't exactly do that, but were honoured at the awards ceremony in these words: "The Special Judges' Award goes to the team that best represented their title. We would like to award the old Geezers the Old Geezer Award. This might be the start of a whole new category. What other team walked across the start line and was never heard from again?"
The Geezers' Mary Fitton piped up at that point to declare that they had, indeed, finished the course even if they hadn't run the race. Saint Paul would have been proud.
by Dan Davidson
While we may mention the winner of the limerick contest in the main article on Dawson's annual Outhouse Race, it's rare that we include the winning verses in the piece. This year I've got the scoop, so to speak, being one of the three judges of the affair. It's really given me the inside dirt for this column.
First however, a discussion of the form. I will probably never run the Outhouse Race. Running and I just don't get along that well, not since the old back started behaving weirdly about 15 years ago. I do scribble a bit, however.
A limerick is usually supposed to be a five line poem with a bouncy rhythm (da-DA-da, da-DA-da, da-da) and a rhyme scheme that follows the A-A-B-B-A pattern.
Now that you're as perplexed as a junior high English class, let's just give an example from my own notebook:
There once was a man from Bear Creek
Who balked at taking a leak.
He said, with a frown,
"Every time I sit down
The outhouse lid freezes my cheeks!"
It's not a perfect specimen, but you get the idea. One of the points of the standard Outhouse Race limerick is that it's not really supposed to be the sort of thing you'd actually find on an outhouse wall. For samples of that sort of thing, check out the campground or restaurant nearest to you. Most of that's derogatory and pretty vicious.
Outhouse Race limericks are supposed to be cute, self-deprecatory and slightly off colour -- loaded with a bit of double entendre.
This particular contest used to take place at the same time as the race. That was until the crew from the BEAR station in Edmonton arrived and proved to us all that it was possible for grown men to be unable to figure out that the Museum steps on a Sunday afternoon, in front of a mixed crowd including little kids, was not the sort of place to be totally crude.
There was no contest the next year. It died of embarrassment. The year after, however, it was revived and has since been held in Gerties under the guise of "adult entertainment." You know, that's the label we use when we want to do something really dumb, childish and maybe tasteless but don't want the kids to see it. (Because then we'd have to forgo passing judgement the next time they were really vulgar.)
Fortunately, the limerick contest has not descended to those depths. Relatively good taste and a lack of extreme vulgarity were among the criteria that Bill, Rob and I had to assess. That made it fun.
The Dawson Dawgs arrived in costume and explained in verse why it took them so long to cover the course -- they had to stop to mark their territory.
The Effluent Society didn't quite manage to keep to the format, but then it would have been hard to work giving the Sierra Club Legal Defence Fund the finger into proper scansion.
We judges had a tough time. In years past a lot of people really didn't seem to have mastered the form. Some spun out sagas that took ten minutes to read, while others wrote alternating rhymes and ignored the rhythm totally. Again, this year's group of contestants was not that challenged and came up with a good batch of material.
It was a tie. Gerties Girls hit the stage in mining costume as "Bonanza Leaks," but still kicked up a mean dance step while they chanted their entry:
"Five miners who came from the creek,
Got drunk and had to leak.
To the outhouse we came,
now we're in this game.
That outhouse it really does reek!"
The irrepressible Mary Fitton and company were back this year, with an entry that really stretched the interpretation of the rules: a commode on wheels with an umbrella for a roof. Most of the time "The Old Geezers," as they were styled, had to carry their entry, but that also made it the only one capable of taking the stage at Gerties, along with the intravenous stand and the walker. Their verse, quite naturally, reflected their characters:
"There was an old man from Madrid
Who went to an auction to bid.
The first lot they sold
Was an ancient commode --
And, my gosh, when they lifted the lid!"
That's it from this year's limerick contest.
by Chris Beacom
The battery-powered radio cracked and snapped with static that swirled in the clear, cold winter air. With reception at a Yukon bush cabin limited to a weak CBC signal, the effort made to reach a report on this year's running of the Yukon Quest dogsled race is not a simple one.
But then, nothing in the Sixty Mile area, where five-time Yukon Quest runner Cor Guimond runs his trapline -- and his dogs -- can be considered effortless.
Guimond, 48, is at home this year, and as he finally breaks through the distance barrier and catches a scratchy radio voice spewing out the details of this year's Quest, his sharp green eyes venture to memories few people could ever imagine.
The financial strain of running the Quest and a world wide drop in demand for Canadian furs has forced Guimond to sit out the 1999 race. He listens intensely to the CBC reports as Alaskan musher Remi Brooks cruises to victory far slower than Guimond's 1995 fourth place showing. However, there is no sign of dejection or frustration on his face. Only memories, and these fade quickly. Outside the door of his bare-bones trapping cabin, many of his 23 dogs begin howling for their nightly feed. Their voices bring Guimond back from thoughts of the world's toughest dogsled race, and he stirs the huge pot of dog food and water warming on the woodstove.
It's the end of a lengthening February day and critical chores can be done in good time, as the late winter Yukon sun stays awake until 8 p.m.
But that doesn't mean the dogs will wait. Guimond snaps off the radio and he and his partner, polish-born Agata Franczak, 43, begin the nightly duties of chopping wood, chipping ice for water, feeding the dogs and preparing dinner. After a minimum 25-mile day running the trapline, the huskies are ready to nestle in with the oncoming night.
The complicated simple life of living off the land in the Klondike started when Guimond was just a boy. Born and raised in Bishopton, a small, agricultural centre in Quebec's eastern townships, the bilingual Guimond learned the art of trapping on his uncle's nearby farm, where he caught fox, muskrat, beaver and skunk. However, after choosing to make a career out of his boyhood passion by moving to the Yukon in 1973, Guimond discovered he still had lots to learn if he was to avoid both starvation and frostbite in the far North.
"My uncle showed me the ropes, but I had lots to learn about northern animals when I came to the Yukon," he says. " I came up here to trap, that was my plan."
And trap he did. Guimond moved around the Yukon for a year, trapping as far north as the Arctic Circle along the secluded Dempster Highway, and in the Fortymile River area, down the Yukon River from Dawson City. He finally chose the Fortymile as his trapping territory, and leased a line from another established area trapper.
Guimond discovered life was much different away from the farm, and had an enormous amount of trouble catching the trap-savvy lynx, marten, wolverine and wolf.
"It sucked," he says honestly, "I didn't know how to catch northern critters. I picked up books on trapping in Dawson ... and got tips from (trapping vets) Jack Fraser and Bob Russell. But most was learned just by doing it."
For 26 years, Guimond has carved out a life in the isolated Yukon bush, spending his winters trapping and his summers fishing salmon on the Yukon River -- one of North America's longest -- which headwaters in northern B.C. before spilling into the Bering Sea off the Alaskan coast, more than 1,000 miles away. The mighty Yukon is historically a lifeline for northern fisherman in both Alaska and the Yukon, but a combination of environmental changes and international fishing regulations that heavily favour the Alaskans may have wiped out the river's traditional salmon fishing. In 1998, Guimond's catch was limited to a paltry four salmon. In other years, he could catch up to 100 salmon a day and pocket $30,000 a season when the fish were running full stream ahead.
The salmon run helped put a dent into his $1,000 a month dog food bill and provided his dog team added nourishment necessary for the six months' training required to run the Yukon Quest. A season's catch also warmed Guimond's belly in the dark winter months when trapline temperatures regularly drop to -50C and light is limited to five hours a day.
However, bad salmon runs are not uncommon and Guimond was always able to rely on strong fur prices to make ends meet. But now, this has also changed as fur prices have dropped 95 per cent in value in the last quarter century.
Twenty years ago, Guimond says, a lynx pelt fetched $1,000. In 1993, the price wavered around $250 and now, the same pelt can be purchased for as low as $60 at one of Canada's fur auction houses.
"There has always been a fluctuation in fur prices," he says. "They were high in the depression and now they are way down. Maybe in five years they'll be way up ... They can't go much lower, so they have to go higher, but how much higher?"
A furrowed brow, indicating a deep worry not unlike a stock broker losing his Porsche-based lifestyle, frames Guimond's handsome, stoic face as he explains trapping economics. Guimond doesn't blame anti-trapping propaganda and the advent of fake furs for a world decline in fur prices. Rather, he says it has more to do with international economics.
"It's the world economy -- people just aren't buying luxury items," he says. Guimond points to the huge Russian and Chinese markets, where fur is still considered a necessity to cut out the northern winter cold, to prove his point that massive markets are still available. However, Guimond also says that a collapse in the Russian and Asian economies has limited purchasing powers, especially when purchasing means paying in North American currencies.
Franczak only partly agrees, and says that social trends are also a big reason for the depressed prices. "It's a way of thinking, that's what's scary -- that they (prices) will never come back," she says.
But these things are out of their control, and Guimond admits that he has yet to check into 1999's potential fur prices. "The poor guys can't afford it and the rich are skeptical ... Don't ask me what the prices are this year -- I'm so discouraged I haven't checked."
Today, a wolf pelt tops out at $500. Wolverine, coyote, marten, beaver and lynx all run between $50 and $200, depending on the quality of the fur. Auction houses all carry fur quality experts, and even the slightest flaw in the fur means a huge devaluation in price. The squirrel pelt sits at the bottom of the fur chain and sells for a paltry $1.50, a value only pennies higher than a Walmart goldfish.
"Some guys use squirrels to fill their gas tanks but they feed my dogs," Guimond laughs, showing a warm sense of humour despite the desperate economic times.
The quiet couple know they can do little about the world economy except hold their fur off the market, with hopes that a decrease in supply will mean an increase in next year's demand and higher prices. Rather than worry, Guimond and Franczak concentrate on what they can control: working the trapline effectively and efficiently from November through mid-March to ensure they can maximize both the quality and quantity of their catch.
The pair live simply in a small log cabin at the base of the Sixtymile River, a kilometre west from its junction with the Yukon River, and fifty miles south of Dawson City. It can only be reached by river travel. Behind Guimond's house lies his trapline, which he purchased privately in 1991 for $20,000. It winds in a figure nine for 100 miles in a northwesterly direction, creating a massive back yard. A series of three small log cabins, no bigger than 100 square feet in area and built strategically along the line, ensure their is always a nearby warm spot so critical for survival in severe winter temperatures.
Guimond could cover the whole trapline in a day and save a fortune doing it if he chose to trade in his dog team for a snow machine. But this, he says, is not an option. He admits that he hates engines and dogs never get stuck on a snowbound trail, despite their idiosyncracies.
"It would be much cheaper with a snow machine and it would give me time to lay out more traps -- the dogs get ancy and want to go, but I hate skidoos."
Guimond will run the dogs weekly to each of 250 traps along his trapline, where the lead dogs will habitually stop without being told. He will then lay down his packed sled and either check, pull or set a trap. Guimond says he's learned to move quickly in cold conditions over the years.
"They (the dogs) will only stop for about a minute. When I'm marten trapping I gotta be quick for the dogs ... If it's really cold, I'll have my hood on and I can't hear the suckers take off."
It's "not cool", Guimond says, when he turns around from his trap and sees an empty trail. If he's lucky, the dogs will discover they are riderless, turn around and come back. If he's not, a long walk will ensure he catches up to the team somewhere down the trail, where they've finally got themselves stuck. Being professional racers, this can be quite a distance. The dogs move quickly and can cover the 50-mile Yukon River route from Guimond's home to Dawson City in three-and-a-half hours.
During the six-month trapping season, Guimond's wiry, two-foot dogs will run over 2,000 miles. In a Yukon Quest season, when Guimond is fortunate enough to secure enough sponsorship to cut into his $30,000 training and racing bills, his dogs will run over 3,500 miles. The dogs are run five days a week from August until April, after which hot summer temperatures and an obvious lack of snow make mushing impossible.
A 70-mile day is average for the dogs, and during the Yukon Quest, the dogs can be pushed 100 miles at a time with just four-hour breaks, provided they are trained properly, Guimond says.
"They enjoy the work. They get burned out after awhile without rest. I'll run them five or six days with two days off. By Christmas time, they go through a bit of a lull. Between Christmas and New Year's, I'll let them rest ... They'll be good for the rest of the season. By then, I'm ready to race."
Other things besides overzealous dogs and low prices can make trapping a difficult career choice. Traps that ice up and won't spring, extreme winter conditions and wily animals make the ancient trade more difficult than it may appear. Guimond related a story of a wolverine that escaped from one of his traps, then tracked him for 90 miles stealing bait and flipping traps that Guimond had set along the line.
"Wolverines are built real solid, like spring steel. They are fairly easy to trap but hard to keep in the trap. I finally caught him in the third last trap using a box. I knew him by the size of his tracks."
In early February, Guimond mushed up to a lynx caught in one of his rubber leghold traps. The animal had dragged the trap near the trail, enticing Guimond's dog team with a powerful scent. He knew by the way the dogs were acting as he approached the trap that he was in for an adventure.
"My team jumped on one (a lynx). Luckily, a willow patch was between the two ... I was riding on ice on Matson Creek and knew I had something. I went for a stick and hit it in the head -- a .22 (rifle) would have done nothing because it was stored at the bottom of my sled."
Guimond says the whole scene was a mess. Dogs were jumping over themselves to get at the cat and the huge lynx fought back with extended, razor-sharp claws. When the fur stopped flying, he said the injuries to his team were numerous, but it could have been worse -- none of his dogs had been killed.
February's trip was the winter's last, as most animals can be trapped up until mid-March. So Guimond spent much of the time closing off traps and retrieving snares, knowing he won't be back on the line until the following fall. His final haul for the trip included 16 marten, which are valued for their soft and warm fur, two lynx and one weasel. Guimond said it was an average catch.
"It isn't bad for the end of the season," he says. "It was fairly consistent this year. Their was one lull because the lynx moved. Towards the start of the season their is a higher population of animals and I'll catch more in the fall time. I'll catch more long-haired animals this time of year and taper off on marten around New Year's."
Guimond's take for the season: 120 marten, 30 lynx, 1 wolverine, 1 coyote, 8 beaver, 10 mink, 10 weasels, 1 otter, zero wolf, and enough frozen squirrels for prevalent dog snacks. Despite a decent trapping season, with the depressed prices, Guimond says he'll only earn $10,000 in selling his pelts -- hardly enough to pay his dog food bill. However, he says he may try to sell the lynx locally for a higher price as they are commonly used in the Yukon for trim on hats, coats and gloves.
"If I can't sell them, I'll hang on until next year and hope that prices go up," he adds.
Despite the end of the season, packing in his traps is not in Guimond's long-term plans. Running a trapline has allowed him to maintain his first passion -- mushing dogs -- and prepare him for the inevitable upcoming Yukon Quest. It has also ensured his freedom to work naturally in an environment he would never trade in, despite the fact he may begin marketing his 10-year-old mushing tourism business, Tintina Treks Wilderness Guiding, more aggressively to help make financial ends meet.
Guimond and Franczak understand life is a business and all businesses need capital. Last year, she took a job as a janitor at the Dawson City public school after the salmon failed to run. Guimond considers learning the internet to help market his business to Germans, where the Yukon -- and particularly the Yukon Quest -- are a hot commodity.
Until he's forced into trading in his traps for tours full-time, Guimond will continue living the life he knows best -- tracking the animals, following their mating cycles, and trapping them to ensure both his own long-term survival and theirs. He just hopes he is not the last of a dying breed -- despite the plentiful wildlife.
"There are not many people trapping these days -- they can't afford it. We're out here, so we do it, plus we have the dogs. God made me a trapper. I just love being in the woods all the time and trapping's really the only way to make a living out here. Or it used to be, now it's just a pastime."
(Chis is a former summer intern at the Sun and former head writer with the late Dawson City Insider. He and his wife, Doreen, now live in B.C. Cleaning out his Dawson files, he came up with this goodie and remembered us.)
by Dan Davidson
The Klondike portion of the Trans Canada Trail opened on the evening of September 9 with a short ceremony held at the beginning of the Dempster Highway.
Tr'ondek Hwech'in elder Percy Henry spoke words of blessing on the enterprise. Local coordinator Wendy Burns explained the venture, and the official documents were signed off between the YTG's Duff Felker and Peter Greenlaw, President of the Yukon's Trans Canada Trail Council.
The Dempster Highway, 741 km long, will be the site of what is being called the longest relay in in the world, a total of 16,100 km from coast to coast. Five thousand official carriers will relay waters from our three oceans a year from now to Ottawa, where they will become part of the Trans Canada Trail Fountain.
The Trans Canada Trail Relay 2000 will kick off from various points -- Tuktoyaktuk, (NWT), Victoria (BC) and St John's (NF) -- in February, April and May, 2000. Water from the Arctic Ocean will pass through Yukon communities along the Trans Canada Trail in February/March, 2000, carried by local participants and by those qualified Canadians who have asked to relay the waters through the beauty of the Yukon.
The Trans Canada Trail was originally conceived by the Canada 125 Corporation in l992 as one of Canada's primary millennium initiatives. The corporation provided seed funding to help establish the Trans Canada Trail Foundation which has worked diligently with grass-roots trail and user-related organizations throughout Canada to generate support for the cause. The successful completion of the pathway is contingent upon the enthusiasm and co-operation of individual Canadians, corporations, volunteers, schools, service clubs, recreation associations and all levels of government.
The Trans Canada Trail traverses mountains, prairies, forests, parks, towns and cities and accommodates, wherever possible, five core activities: walking, cycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. The extraordinary feat of linking 16, 100 km of trails is not only a boon for walkers, cyclists, horseback riders, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, but also a lasting and meaningful legacy for future generations. It links this country's immense and diverse geography and is a testament to our multi-coloured historical and political landscape.
"The Dempster" was used as a north-south hunting route as far back as the last ice age -- 30,000 years ago. Today, it is still the only road in Canada to pass through the Arctic Circle and to the Arctic Ocean. It is comprised of a 90-foot wide strip of gravel built over tundra, permafrost and through two mountain ranges, and is more frequently trod upon by wildlife than by human beings.
The Dempster is no place for the inexperienced or ill prepared. Only seasoned trail users capable of withstanding the extreme conditions will take part in the Relay as it passes over this stretch. While only a select few will participate physically, all eyes will follow the Relay's progress along the Dempster, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast will connect with their most distant neighbours via the Trans Canada Trail.
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