Dawson City, Yukon Friday, September 27, 2002

RCMP gathered at the force's graveyard on Mary McLeod Road to honour past members. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

RCMP Celebrate the Force in Dawson
RCMP Ball Makes History in Dawson
Arena Will Have Ice this Year
New Pool Serves in September
YTG Backs Dawson's Choice of Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant
Thos W. O'Brien Laid To His Eternal Rest, Citizens Pay Their Respects
Principal Suspended to Support Terry Fox
Celebrating Lady Day
Calgary Writer Arrives at Berton House
Gone/now Reprise

Welcome to the September 27, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 35 photographs and 30 articles that were in the 24 page Sept. 24 hard copy edition. This edition is late in getting posted because ye editor has been out of town on education business and has to catch up.

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

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online (38,148 since July 2000 and about 25,000 on the original counter before that), and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers. See our home page for subscription information.

An Appeal to Our Readers

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

RCMP Celebrate the Force in Dawson

by Dan Davidson

There are only two RCMP cemeteries in Canada. One of them is in Regina, the training headquarters of the force. The other is just a the side of the Mary McLeod Trail in Dawson City, and it is there that the 80 or more guests attending the Force's Regimental Ball weekend gathered at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, to honour those who had served before them.

The cemetery was begun in 1898 and 18 members or former members were buried there up to 1936.

The gathering was assembled to pay their respects and lay wreathes on all the graves.

"As we stand here," said Deputy Commissioner Beverly Busson, "it is clear why he (Sam Steele) chose this particular spot. The first interment in the cemetery was Const.. Henry Dundas, who died in 1898 of typhoid fever. This was approximately three years after the Northwest Mounted Police arrived in the Yukon. It is a testament to the harsh conditions and the risks these early members of the Force faced on a daily basis."

"Staff Sgt. Dick Vitt is the most recent internee, having been buried here in the summer of 2001. He spent nearly all of his service in the Yukon and the NWT. It was his desire to rest, for all eternity, in this sacred ground in the Klondike."

Busson continued with her comparisons between those early days and the present.

"The personnel of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police remain dedicated to the service of Yukoners, dedicated to 'Maintain le Droit'. Each and every day for the last 107 years, men and women of M Division have provided a critical service to Yukon citizens, often exposing themselves to personal risk.

"In fact, this year we are reminded that the Yukon wilderness remains a force to be reckoned with, when on two different occasions it nearly claimed the lives of M Division members.

"Despite the risks the Yukon remains an extraordinary place. It is the allure which continues to attract special people to the RCMP, just as it did for the first NWMT as they were posted here in established a command under Inspector Constantine in 1895 at a location not far from here."

Busson urged that the memory of those who have died be honoured by continuing to maintain the "police service that is dedicated to the safety and the security of all Canadians."

The laying of the wreathes was done by name and followed by "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, a drum roll and a salute on the trumpet.

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RCMP Ball Makes History in Dawson

by Dan Davidson


Cpl Gina Nagano and Sgt Tim Ashmore exchange a hug in honour of a job well done. Photo by Dan Davidson

Retired Sergeant Grant Galenzoski opened the evening at the RCMP Regimental Ball by recalling how things had been in Dawson City 100 years earlier, in January of the year that Dawson received its city charter.

There were 963 names on the voters rolls according to an October 1901 report in the Klondike Nugget, which reported that incorporation was to take place at the turn of the year whether the voters agreed with it or not. The subsequent election was held in February and won by a handful of votes.

By that time, the Mounties, Galenzoski noted, had already been policing the area since 1895. It has taken Insp. Charles Constantine and his men 53 days to make the trip from Dyea to Dawson, and they were headed for Fortymile, not here.

"Constantine's first orders were check into the liquor trade, establish customs collections, look into the situation of the first nations people and determine how to best police the region without committing the federal government on anything.

"Things haven't changed," Galenzoski continued, as a ripple of laughter spread through Diamond Tooth Gerties.

The advent of the Klondike Rush, far exceeding the size of the Fortymile strike which had brought Constantine into what was then a part of the Northwest Territories, changed all that, making it vital that Canada establish a presence here or lose the place altogether to the hordes of mostly American stampeders who began to flood north in 1897.

In spite of that, Galenzoski said, the force's biggest challenge was maintaining a food supply at a time when eggs were $18 a dozen a members was earning a $1 a day, while goldfield workers were earning $18-$20. Members are somewhat better paid now.

Another thing that has changed, of course, is that Mounties in uniform can now be found having a gala dinner and a ball in a casino. it would never have happened in the old days.

Deputy Commissioner Beverly Busson noted that in her address.

"This is a most impressive venue for tonight's regimental ball," she said, adding that it was good that times had changed.

"I understand," she said, "that RCMP balls in this community have been somewhat rare. I think we should fix that."

Balls have been held here in 1979 and 1995. Busson felt that this first RCMP ball to occur in the Yukon in the new century was an historic event.

Mayor Glen Everitt welcomed the guests to the honorary capital of the Yukon and continued with a meditation on the service the force has provided over the years.

"What can be said about an individual who puts his or her life and safety on hold in order to protect the general public? The used best to describe this, but not often enough, is 'hero'.

Everitt praised the force members as people who put others ahead of themselves.

"Every day we see our number one resource, our children, walking to school, fearless, laughing, playing, happy as children should be; our seniors taking a stroll around the town, knowing that they will return home safe from harm; families sleeping at night, with a real sense of security. These tributes to our society are a result of people such as yourselves, the men and woman in the shadows of goodness whose names are usually unknown and not recognized.

"It is no secret to many of us though that your career, in some cases, can be a thankless task, a job that, when someone is in need, they expect you to respond, yet in the next breath may be the same person that criticizes your every move."

Everitt blasted a legal system which will allow perpetrators to go free on technicalities after the Mounties have worked hard and risked life and happiness to bring them in.

"I say to you today that the majority of citizens stand 100% behind the work that you people do."

He ended with a quotation from Robert Service's poem Clancy of the Mounted Police.

"In the little crimson manual it's written plain and clear

That who would wear a scarlet coat shall say goodbye to fear.

So be a guardian of the right, a sleuth hound on the trail

In the little crimson manual there's no such word as 'fail'."

Chief Darren Taylor also had kind words for the Mounties, noting that their early relationship with the aboriginal people had been quite positive. While there was a period, later on, when things were not so good, Taylor said that day is over, and praised initiatives such as the now defunct Special Constable program and the new Community Constable program which allow first nations citizens to work their way up to full status in the force.

The meal was catered very capably by the staff of the Downtown Hotel. This was followed by the first of a series of draws for dozens of door prizes which Sgt Tim Ashmore, commander of the local detachment, passed out during the evening.

The dance after dinner was held to the music of the Agents, a Whitehorse band

The guest list at the ball included Commissioner Jack Cable, Premier Pat Duncan. MP Larry Bagnell, MLA Peter Jenkins, Mayor Glen Everitt, Deputy Commissioner Busson, Chief Superintendent Darrell Madill (M Division), CYFN Grand Chief Ed Shultz and Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Chief Taylor.

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Arena Will Have Ice this Year

by Dan Davidson


"You will have hockey season this year," Mayor Glen Everitt assured the community on September 16. Natural ice will be made once the arena surface has been cleared of damaged piping and steel and a temporary wooden floor has been installed. Photo by Dan Davidson

It's official. There WILL be ice in Dawson's new arena this winter, probably by about the same time of year that it would have been in the old one in year's past.

It will be natural ice, but then, it was supposed to have been that anyway for at least another decade.

The official announcement was made at the September 16 meeting of town council, near the end of the meeting, though it had already made the radio earlier in the day.

There's a little work to be done first. According to the description by planning team members Wayne Potoroka and Byrun Shandler, all of the rebar and brine lines which would have become part of an artificial ice system down the road will have to be removed first. Some of it was installed poorly and it has warped, perhaps due in part to the changing ground conditions under the arena floor.

These same conditions prevented the pouring of the concrete floor which would have allowed the use of the arena last year had it been done, but it now appears that the decision to wait was the right one. The warping is considerable. Some excavation will have to be done to fix the humping which has been caused by two old building pylons rising underneath the new structure as the permafrost freezes back.

The insulation under the pipes will be left in place and covered with several layers of sand (to even it out) two by four sleepers with plywood on top of that and an impermeable membrane (to keep water from getting through to the ground). The membrane will be removable in the summer months.

"This way we'll have a hard surface to use for events," Shandler said.

This system will, he said, probably in place for only two years, but by then the permafrost is supposed to have returned and the original installation can be redone and completed with a cement pad.

The cost for this should run in the neighbourhood of $160 to $200 thousand, which is about the same amount that pouring the floor would have cost.

Shandler concedes that some other council, a few years down the road, will face the cost of completing this project, but he also says that council felt it was imperative to get the arena and curling rink in operation this year.

This is actually, he said, the first year in which council was actually able to do anything about the situation. The contractor, TSL, did the city a favour by walking away from the project in mid-summer and forcing the town to take over responsibility for the arena. Up until then, town workers and the council did not even have regular access to the building.

The contract to do the work has been awarded to EBA Engineering.

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New Pool Serves in September

by Dan Davidson


Recreation Director Jason Barber, MP Larry Bagnell and City Manager Scott Coulson celebrated the arrival of funding from the FCM Green Fund in late July. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson's new swimming pool needs a name. As far as city council can discover, none of the pools that have occupied the site where the new pool sits have ever been named, but this is the first indoor pool there, so council is open to submissions for possible names.

The pool, it was reported at the September 16 meeting, has had a good season. There were closures early in the summer, but most of these were, Mayor Everitt says, caused by faulty water testing procedures in Whitehorse.

Councillor Wayne Potoroka would still like to bill the territorial government for the unnecessary remedial costs the city had to incur early in the summer when YTG demanded a change the sand in the filtration system, work which it later appeared was not needed.

Health Minister Sue Edelman has already indicated that such a bill would be a waste of paper, but councillors are allowed to dream.

The pool will be open this year until the end of September, and could have been open longer, according to Everitt, except for the need to begin work this fall on some contractual deficiencies which have become obvious over the last two summers.

The biggest job will be the replacement of the floors in the two change rooms.

"Everyone who's been in there knows they don't drain properly," Everitt said. "There will be new floors going in that will drain. And no, the city will not just be eating that bill. It is all part of our outstanding issues with Ferguson Simek Clark." That was the architectural firm on the project.

The solar heating panels that were installed on the roof during the summer seem to be doing their job well, according to Councillor Byron Shandler. It will take a full season to tell. Several of the rubber panels will be replaced during the fall, as they have manufacturer's flaws in their appearance. This is not a cost item for the town.

All but $5,000 of the cost of that $50 to $60 thousand project came from a couple of grants, including the Green Fund administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. MLA Larry Bagnell was along in July to hand over the green Fund cheque.

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YTG Backs Dawson's Choice of Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant

by Dan Davidson

An independent study commissioned by the Yukon government has confirmed that the City of Dawson's choice of a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) model for its secondary sewage treatment facility "appears to have been an appropriate decision."

The study, prepared by G.J. Bull & Associates Inc. in association with Novatec Consultants Inc., was a response to concerns expressed in some quarters that the various city councils (led respectively by Peter Jenkins, Art Webster and Glen Everitt) involved in making this decision over the last decade or so might have reached the wrong conclusion.

Previously the City of Dawson had investigated and rejected the sewage lagoon option due to its land use and environmental impact implications. As the pressures from government agencies and environmental groups increased over several councils, it became clear that some sort of mechanical treatment process was probably going to be the outcome and a SBR plant was the likely choice.

The system council eventually selected was a sequencing batch reactor plant which would cost $6.6 million to build and about $361 thousand annually to operate.

As the report says, "Several suppliers of competing technologies that had not previously been considered have contacted the City and provided technical and financial information about their technologies which suggested that a further review may be appropriate."

The new technologies surveyed included a moving bed bioreactor (MBBR), the type recommended in the legislature by Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins last May. There were also membrane bioreators, aerobic fixed film, physical/chemical, biological aerated filters and a rotating biological contactor (RBC) In addition, the study examined two vendors of SBR technology for comparison purposes.

Bull & Associates prepared capital construction and cost estimates from data provided by the technology vendors who responded to requests for information.

The SBR systems had the lowest estimated capital costs at $5.6 and $5.7 million and the second lowest annual operating costs at $346 to $361 thousand.

The two MBBR systems surveyed would cost between $7.7 and $8.1 million to construct and between $445 and $479 to operate. One such plant was still a pilot project of unknown potential, while the other had been in operation on a cruise ship for a very short time. While it was doing well on the boat, the fleet manager "feels that a land based installation would likely be a completely different set-up."

The RBC plant would cost $6.8 million to build and $333 thousand to operate. The other options had construction costs "which exceeded $10 million and they likely have the highest operating costs."

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Thos W. O'Brien Laid To His Eternal Rest, Citizens Pay Their Respects

Submitted by John Gould


Thomas O'Brien's new headboard. Photo by John Gould

So said the head lines of the Dawson Daily News of August 28,1916.

Dawson suspended business that day while the mortal remains of one of Dawson notable pioneers was buried. The funeral was one of the largest ever held in Dawson. It was attended in a body by the officers and members of the Yukon order of Pioneers. Tomas W. O'Brien, was buried in a central position in the Pioneer 8th Ave. cemetery. An impressive head board had been erected over the grave. But over the years it deteriorated to the point that it collapsed, and during the recent restoration work being done on the Cemetery by Ed and Star Jones and the Pioneers, the head board was not in evidence until last summer. It was found where it fell covered with grass and moss. Ed Jones was able to read a few letter on the board to determine whose it was.

This past winter Joe Vigneau, with the help of his wife Audrey, built a new head board which was erected in a central position in the 8th Avenue Pioneer cemetery on August 6th.

Tom O'Brien, was a charter member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers when the organization was formed at Forty Mile on December 1,1894. He was also the first president when a lodge was formed in Dawson on July 24,1897.The first lodge in Dawson was called the "Klondike Lodge" but soon changed the name to Dawson Lodge No.1.

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Principal Suspended to Support Terry Fox

by Dan Davidson


They don't make duct tape like they used to. Would the principal slide down through the tape and choke or would it pull off the wall first? The thorough looking job lasted about a minute once the stool under his feet was removed. Photo by Dan Davidson

It's not too often the principal gets suspended, but that was the case in Dawson City on September 13 as students (and teachers) at Robert Service School lined up to tape principal Denis Gauthier to the wall of the gymnasium stage.

All in good fun, the event was a fund raiser for the school's annual Terry Fox Run, which is generally held on the Friday before the community event.

The grade 11 class was responsible for organizing the afternoon event for the high school this year and came up with four separate components.

For a fee, students got to suspend the principal. For another fee, each student got to tape a coloured paper outline of his or her footprint to the hallway of the school.

There were two dyke runs in the afternoon, with the elementary classes heading out at 1 o'clock and the high school doing their bit at 2:30. Students were supposed to pay a loonie to make the run.

Finally, the student who raised the most money for the day, Jessica Burian was to be selected as Principal for the Day sometime in the near future.

In total, the school raised $665, half of which was designated to support a classmate who is being treated for cancer.

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Celebrating Lady Day

by Dan Davidson


Bodra Aliyah and the Not Ella Fitzgerald Band. Photo by Dan Davidson

"You can't copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling. No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn't music."
- Billie Holiday

In spite of that bold claim, made after she was famous, the woman who began life as Eleanora Fagan Gough (1915-59) understood the idea of a homage. She became Billie Holiday, after all, out of admiration for film star Billie Dove. Like many a jazz performer she achieved a stage royalty as "Lady Day" out of the respect her fellow musicians and fans had for her ability with a song.

Once she was discovered by producer John Hammond she quickly attracted the attention of such luminaries as Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Artie Shaw, not to forget her long time accompanists sax player Lester Young and pianist Teddy Wilson.

While her autobiography was called Lady Sings the Blues, most sources indicate that she seldom did just that in any traditional sense. From 1935 until her death in 1959 she built a reputation on her ability to turn pop tunes into stirring jazz tunes.

The homage that is The Not Ella Fitzgerald Band came to Dawson City for a concert on September 7. The dinner and a concert evening was co-sponsored by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and the Dawson City Music Festival. After a fine meal and dessert supplied by Tintina Bakery, the evening was turned over to this production from the Jazz Society of Yukon.

It wouldn't be fair to say that Bodra Aliyah and friends copied Billie Holiday that night, Better to say that they conjured up the spirit of the 1940s and 50s for a couple of hours. Aliyah set herself the task of representing Billie's trademark phrasing, but eschewed the white gardenia in her hair that would have indicated an attempt to mimic the person rather than the style.

The band behind her was a group of seasoned Yukon musicians: Jay Burr on trombone and tuba, Lonnie Powell on drums, Don Bishop on trumpet and Andrea McColeman on piano (filling in for Grant Simpson, who was unable to make the gig). They were, of course, splendid, well into the groove.

The musical fare included such standards as "Sunny Side of the Street", "What a Little Moonlight Can Do", "No Regrets", "Me, Myself and I", "Body and Soul", and "I Love You Porgy", all tunes which can be found on the several greatest hits compilation CDs which are available if one searches the internet for Holiday material.

One particular standout tune, as noted in the narration read by Scott Wilson, was "Strange Fruit" a 1939 Holiday composition (from a poem by a Jewish teacher from the Bronx, Abel Meeropol) which was one of the earliest popular protest songs on the subject of racism.

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
"Blood on the leaves and blood on the root;
"Black body swinging in the southern breeze;
"Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees."

The evening ended on a more soothing note, with a touch of "Stardust".

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Calgary Writer Arrives at Berton House


Ken McGoogan. Photo by Jim Camp from the Writers Union of Canada website

There was an informal open house at Berton House on September 18 to welcome Ken McGoogan to Dawson. McGoogan is the latest writer to take up residence at Berton House From his page at the Writers Union of Canada website, we learn the following.

Born and raised in Montreal, McGoogan has worked as a bicycle messenger in San Francisco, a fire lookout in the Canadian Rockies and a French teacher in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has two degrees, one each from Ryerson and the University of British Columbia. He has sojourned in Greece, India and Sri Lanka, worked more than a decade as books editor at the Calgary Herald and now teaches in the Freelance Writing Program at Mount Royal College in that city.

Among his works are:

Fatal Passage: The Untold Story of John Rae, the Arctic Adventurer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2001.
Chasing Safiya. Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 1999.
Kerouac's Ghost. Montreal: Robert Davies Publishing, 1996.
Calypso Warrior. Montreal: Robert Davies Publishing, 1995.
Visions of Kerouac. Halifax: Pottersfield Press, 1991.
Canada's Undeclared War: Fighting Words from the Literary Trenches. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1991.

McGoogan has received the following awards for his work:

Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Senior Writers' Grants 1998, 2000.
University of Cambridge Press Fellowship, 1998.
The Writers' Guild of Alberta Wilfrid Eggleston Award, for Best Non-Fiction Book, for Canada's Undeclared War, 1991.
The Sandpiper/Steinbeck Freedom to Read Award for Championing Freedom of Expression.

You can find out more about Ken McGoogan on his website.

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Gone/now Reprise

by Palma Berger


Stuart Mueller. Photo by John Steins

"It was coming to Dawson that made me really aware of my Grandfather's stories," says Stuart Mueller. His grandfather had talked of the times when his family pioneered in the Okanagan Valley in the 1900's. It was hard for Mueller to visualize that as the Okanagan is now filled with its highways, towns, shopping malls, businesses and the hectic pace of modern life.

When he lived in Dawson City ten years ago, he saw the artifacts, the spaciousness and the more natural landscape, Mueller began to appreciate the stories of his forebears. As he said, "The world of my grandfather's youth seemed somehow to exist still in Dawson and I had been carrying these images, these words around for a while, and I wanted to put them down. The result was this exhibition."

Some of the photos were those he took of Dawson City when he lived here. These have been blown up into 120 cm. X 120 cm. sizes. At one end of the room is a huge blown up picture of a cliff face, while at the other end is a raven circling in a cloudy sky, but peeping over the edge of a house is a television dish, showing that the outside world has crept into Dawson . Between these two contrasts are other photos of Dawson of ten years ago.

He was fortunate to have found some old negatives from photos that his great grandmother had taken. These he developed into transparencies and placed at one end of the room with their unusual framing. The horse carrying the deer for the hunters is in a moose antler frame. The winter scene of the old farm is in a unique solid white frame as is the family photo.

The old farm also shows the cold storage shed in which his great grandmother developed the photos she took.

On the wall opposite the Dawson photos are "photograms" of objects that accompany short stories from his grandfather's time. The photograms are made by laying the object directly onto contact paper and allowing a silhouette to develop. They were made with artifacts from the Dawson City Museum.

Each story is distilled into the simplest essence of the story. There are no descriptive pieces, the characters mentioned have no character; they are just "he or she". There is no mood evoked, no landscape; just the barest of facts. An example is a story from the WWI period as told by his grandfather. "They were both the right age to go to war. One of them died of the influenza at a camp in England. The other saw action in France, came home, got married, had kids, then died while fixing a wire."

The stories are written in brush script. Mueller used this script as it reminded him of the scripts of the Hallmark cards. The ones that seem to have just the right words to express the feelings for the moment.

Each photogram relates in some way to the story, as in the bridle matching the story of the horse. The insulators go with the story of one man's death. The crocheted doily becoming unraveled connects to the story of one woman's state of mind.

What looks interesting in the corner is a video of Stuart Mueller talking about something. One edges closer, but can't hear anything. Closer still. Still nothing. But the artist's statement explains, "This video continues my interest in storytelling and the desire we all share to communicate with others. Withholding of the sound acknowledges the reality that we can never really hear each other we hear what we are able, and what we want to hear. The lack of sound allows the viewer the space to form their own story, to meet the storyteller half way."

The subject matter of Mueller's current photography is moving away from photographing structures alone, (he found many of these types of subjects recorded by previous photographers) to include people and activities to give life and form. He still intends to carry his camera with him everywhere in his wanderings around Dawson over the next few days to record the forms of structures and life in Dawson.

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