Klondike Sun ~ March 12, 2004
Welcome to the March 12, 2004 online edition of the Klondike Sun, reproducing a selection of the articles and photographs from the March 10 newsstand edition.
The Sun has only recently been updated on the web after a hiatus since the January 16/04 issue. We have been some time working out another way to get back online.
We have had many inquiries about the absence of current issues here, and we note that the site has had more than 1,000 hits since the last new posting.
As this new site develops over the next few months you will note changes in the format. We expect to be asking you to pay something in order to gain access to these files, and will be giving you an option of an issue-by-issue or yearly rate. In the time we have been online, since 1997, the site has had free access. We have tried asking for donations, and if the nearly 100,000 hits on the site had each generated a loonie, we’d be laughing right now, but it hasn’t worked out that way. We need to make enough money to pay for the existence of the site, and perhaps a bit more to help our bottom line.
Bridge Announcement Pleases Chamber
by Dan Davidson
Peter Jenkins, MLA for Klondike and Minister of Health, could have been forgiven a touch of self-satisfaction as he looked around the tables in the Downtown Hotel’s conference room on March 3 and prepared the audience for an announcement he’s been wanting to make for years.
There will be a bridge built across the Yukon River at Dawson City.
Only Jenkins didn’t make the announcement. He warmed up the audience of 45 or so with a recitation of the Yukon Party’s accomplishments so far and teased them with a list of capital works soon to be coming to the Klondike, including highway improvements and a projected multi-level health care facility. Then he turned the floor over to his cabinet colleague, Jim Kenyon, acting as Minister for Community Services while Glen Hart is attending the Arctic Winter Games.
“I’m here today,” Kenyon said, “to announce that our government will be constructing a bridge over the Yukon River at Dawson City.”
The room filled with members of the chamber of commerce, echoed with scattered applause as he said the words.
The $25 million capital project will be designed over the next year and in place by 2007, Kenyon said. The two lane highway with sidewalk will span 365 metres and replace the service currently offered by the aging George Black ferry in summer and an ice bridge in the winter.
Kenyon and Jenkins cited a number of factors in leading to the decision to build a bridge at this time.
• the need to have it in place before the ferry must be replaced at a cost of $6 $7 million
• rising insurance costs to cover the ferry since the September 11, 2001 attacks
• increasing costs of running the ferry in terms of fuel, wages and other costs
• environment damage being done annually to the Yukon River by the gravel ferry landings
• plans by the American government to extend the season on the Top of the World/Taylor Highway system as indicated by Governor Frank Murkowski
• possible reductions in the price of gasoline trucked over that route
• the potential for a longer tourist season, most likely beginning earlier, in concert with the Alaskans’ desire to move people off the cruise ships on the coast and increase tourism inland
While both Jenkins and Kenyon denied that there were any plans at this time to solve the problem of Dawson’s secondary sewage treatment by piping the effluent to a lagoon in West Dawson, Jenkins went on to say that the sequencing batch reactor plan currently envisioned for the community “can’t be justified” and that the existence of a bridge would open up other options for Dawson down the road.
While there is opposition to a bridge within the community, on both sides of the river, none of those people were at the chamber luncheon where the news was greeted with smiles and sighs of relief.
Chamber chair Martin Gehrig likened the feeling to winning an Oscar after 25 years of being unsuccessfully nominated. Presiding over a much larger crowd than usually attends a monthly chamber meeting, Gehrig invited the cabinet to make a announcement every month and bring out the people.
“I’d like to thank Peter for his persistence and dedication in working towards this brief for quite a few years,” said Jon Magnusson, chamber vice-chair. “I thank the government for looking toward the future of Dawson. This is going to help in all areas, I’m sure.”
Others at the meeting looked forward to the day when both hydro power, telephone service and high speed internet might be carried across the river over the bridge along with four wheeled traffic.
Elizabeth Connellan (Service Canada) lives most of her year in West Dawson, except when she can’t get there. She was philosophical about the announcement.
‘This decision today means that my five year old son and I will have the option of living at our own home 12 months out of the year. As much as I know that the bridge coming is going to forever change life across river, I thank you for this. I’m glad to see it.”
Opposition Parties React to Bridge Announcement
Extracted from a Whitehorse Star article by Jason Small
The Yukon River at Dawson City may have been promised by the Yukon Party during the 2002 territorial election. But Liberal Leader Pat Duncan says building this bridge should not be a top priority.
“There are a number of other urgent priorities that warrant the commitment of public funds prior to the construction of the bridge in Dawson,” she said in an interview with the Whitehorse Star on March 3.
She noted that sewage treatment plants need to be built in Dawson City, Carmacks and Ross River. As well, replacement bridges and schools are also needed throughout the territory.
NDP MLA Gary McRobb noted that Dawson City is still pumping raw sewage into the river. The federal government has ordered the community to build a treatment facility.
Duncan said this is not so much about what is best for the Yukon but what one politician wants.
“It’s about ego,” Duncan said, referring to Jenkins, her long-time rival. “It’s about a legacy for Mr. Jenkins and the Yukon Party. It’s not about what’s right for the Yukon.”
The Liberal leader added that not all Dawsonites want the bridge built, recognizing more important things are needed like the sewage facility.
McRobb contends the government has not yet made the business case for building the bridge.
“There’s far too many questions,” the New Democrat said in an interview this afternoon. McRobb noted that when the Yukon Party promised to build the bridge during the election campaign, it indicated it would do so when feasible.
The party’s platform book reads: “Plan the construction of a bridge at Dawson City to replace the current ferry system when it is economical to do so.”
McRobb doesn’t think it has been established yet that it is economical. He said there are also questions about how it will be financed.
Last fall, when Premier Dennis Fentie said the government would begin looking at business arrangements with private businesses, the construction of a bridge in Dawson was given as an example.
Drilling Begins on Yukon River Bridge Study
by Dan Davidson
The heavy equipment mentioned by Acting Minister of Community Services Jim Kenyon during his announcement that a bridge would be built across the Yukon River at Dawson City, has arrived and is at work already, drilling through the ice bridge to the river bottom.
“It will be used to gather samples of the bedrock and help engineers to determine the suitability of the river bed,” Kenyon said.
EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. has the contract for this work, which was actually awarded earlier in the Yukon Party’s mandate.
Environmental and geotechnical studies related to the opposite ends of the ferry were completed under an earlier Yukon Party government. That report was published in 1995.
Some West Dawson residents who oppose the construction of a bridge are saying that much has changed along the river in the intervening 8 years and that most of that work should be redone. With a three year timeline for design and completion of the 365 metre span, it is not certain how much new work will be done on studies.
Kenyon quipped that, while the bridge would have a sidewalk, “I don’t see anything for dog teams … but Dawson’s usually pretty inventive; we’ll get around that.”
According to Kenyon, whose regular portfolio is Minister of the Environment, one study that has been done by the Department of Fisheries indicates that the environmental impact of a bridge would be less than the current impact of the ferry.
Dawson Councillor Calls for Public Inquiry in Rec. Centre and CFA
by Dan Davidson
Bill Holmes has had enough innuendo. If anything else remains to be said about the problems Dawson City has had with its new recreation centre or with its finances, he’d like it to be said at a public inquiry.
Some might think it odd that Holmes, who is the newest member of council, would be taking this tack at this time, but it’s not really a new stand for him. Since he first had time to familiarize
Bill Holmes won his seat on Dawson’s council in the October 2003 election. He expected it to be warm, but not as hot as it has become. Photo by Dan Davidson
himself with the issues after being elected last October, 2003, Holmes has stoutly maintained at public meetings that any doubts he ever had about the actions of the council have vanished.
In his open letter to Minister of Community Services, Glen Hart, he states, “I have tried to educate myself on the problems facing our community. I have been questioned by many of my fellow Dawsonites regarding our finances and how we came to this current situation. I struggle for answers. They all deserve better than this.”
By “this” he means the blizzard of accusations that have put Dawson in an even greater chill than the unusually cold first two months of the year.
“This is,” Holmes wrote, “a very serious situation, as you yourself have stated. One that I hope to see Dawson come out of intact and one that I hope no other Yukon Municipality will have to face.
“Given the fact that we have been under YTG supervision for two years, and given the fact that many of the costs associated with this situation will be born by our municipal tax payers, with a distinct possibility of the costs coming from Territorial funds, and given the fact that there are problems and inconsistencies with the administration of the Yukon’s CFA program and given the fact that this situation should never be allowed to happen to Dawson or any other municipality, and given the fact that the supervisor whose control we are currently under has suggested it himself, I am writing to formally request that your office order a full and impartial public inquiry into the situation surrounding Dawson’s finances.”
Holmes wrote his letter early in February, but sat on it for a bit in order to discuss it with his fellow councillors. Still, he was concerned that no one should see this as a sign of a split on the council or any lack of faith on his part, so he went on to write a second open letter, This one is to his “Fellow Dawsonites” and will be published in full in the March 9th edition of the Klondike Sun.
In it he states clearly his belief that the current situation is not ultimately of Dawson’s creation.
“ I feel confident that our Mayor and Council have done nothing wrong and certainly not with any malicious or self serving intent in regards to our current situation.
“My aim is at the YTG for leading and sometimes shoving us down this path while providing us with seemingly constant consultation and supervision.”
Councillors, he writes, are not, and should not be expected to be expert contractors and engineers. Councils hire people to do the expert work for them, or look to the senior government to provide guidance and assistance.
“Given the amount of involvement, all of them have failed miserably.”
Holmes is uncertain as to whether the Yukon Party government will call an inquiry, but feels that any attempt to get the whole story on the record is worth making.
“Bungling” Bandits Burglarize Businesses
adapted from a Whitehorse Star story by
Sarah Elizabeth Brown
Police arrested two Dawson youth, aged 14 and 16, at a private residence other than their own homes after being made aware of a series of break- ins and other damage done early Tuesday morning.
Clumsy break- ins occurred at the Ray of Sunshine, Northern Metallic, Circle Cycle and the Youth Centre. In addition they attempted to make off with a van belonging to Fifth Avenue Bed and Breakfast, but succeeded in driving only perhaps 100 yards before losing control and burying its front end in a snowbank.
Surveying the damage to the door on his workshed, Circle Cycle’s Tim Gunter ventured this opinion: “I’d have to say they were bungling thieves. I hope they don’t take it up as a living, because I think they’ll go hungry if they do.”
Dale Leyton, at Northern Metallic, was equally disparaging: “These guys are size 12 boots and a size four hat, I think would be a nice, polite way to describe them.”
Most of the stolen items were recovered in two outdoor stashes, said Sgt. Tim Ashmore, who heads up the Dawson RCMP.
On the missing list were numerous watches, sunglasses, tools and bike items.
“We’re still trying to get a complete inventory on what’s missing, but we believe we recovered most of it,” said Ashmore.
Two boys aged 14 and 16 are charged with three counts of break, enter and theft, one of theft over $5,000 for the van and a further charge of break, enter and commit mischief.
The last criminal charge is for damage done to the Dawson City Youth Centre. An unlocked back door allowed entry to the centre, and fire extinguishers were set off inside the building.
Ashmore said the thieves had been drinking. Both were released to their parents and will be making their first court appearances in Dawson April 6.
Yukon Housing Pet Policy Questioned
It has come to the attention of Humane Society Dawson that the appointed board for the Dawson City Housing Association has decided to begin enforcing the “NO PET” policy in its Social Housing units, but to continue to allow YTG employees who live in Yukon Housing units to have pets. This is of grave concern to Humane Society Dawson and I am sending this letter to voice our concerns and to encourage you to reconsider this decision.
This sudden enforcement of the “no pet” policy, after seven years on not enforcing it, is not only cruel, it is blatantly discriminatory toward those in Social Housing units. There is absolutely no justification for allowing pets in some units and not in others based on the tenant’s employment situation. This, combined with the callous disregard for the love a pet can give, and the obvious discredit of thoroughly documented benefits of pet ownership (including better social development of children, better health and utilization of health services by seniors, and reduced hypertension and cardiovascular disease) is appalling.
By not enforcing your “no pet” policy in the past you have allowed the tenants to acquire pets which they now may have had for many years and which are essentially a part of the family. As some of these tenants could not afford to live in anywhere else, suggesting that finding other accommodation or relinquishing a family member is a “choice” is ludicrous.
Of immediate concern to us at HSD is a torrent of requests to surrender pets or access boarding services that will come from the sudden enforcement of this policy. Our shelter has very limited space available and we fear that this will force some tenant’s to have their pets euthanised, a prospect completely unacceptable to HSD and the tenants concerned.
In the fall of 2002, the Yukon Humane Society and Humane Society Dawson were consulted by Yukon Housing in the drafting of a pet policy, which was to be considered for implementation in all Yukon Housing units territory-wide. This process took much time and effort, but eventually we created a policy that dealt with all issues of concern to Yukon Housing employees and board members. This policy dealt fairly with such issues as multi-unit buildings, allergy concerns, limits on numbers of pets per unit, noise complaints, damage done by pets, and gives much power to the YH board as “landlords”.
Humane Society Dawson would like this policy to again be considered. In the meantime we request that the enforcement of the “No Pet” policy to be put on hold until an equitable solution, such as the implementation of a Pet Policy, can be found.
Board of Directors
Humane Society Dawson
Celebrating the Myths and Mediums of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Culture
by Dan Davidson
March 6, 2004
The big, sunlit atrium of the Dänòja Zho Cultural Centre was pleasantly full of people on the final afternoon of the Myth and Medium conference. Around the room some forty folk were engaged in a variety of craft works which reflected the focus of the event: learning more about the past legends and culture of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
Earlier in the month elementary students at the Robert Service School had completed a project called “The Secret Life of Artifacts” (see last issue for details), going on field trips to Oak Hall (Parks Canada), the Dawson City Museum and Dänòja Zho (Long Ago House) to examine first nation artifacts and prepare drawings and reports about them. All of these were on display in the main conference room, along with numerous actual physical artifacts brought in from all over town.
Glenda Bolt, one of the organizers with the first nation’s cultural department, summed up the last day of the conference in these words, “It’s a day of good things in and good things out.”
The four day event actually began with an evening showing of the students’ work on Wednesday, Feb. 25. On Thursday (which was a school holiday) there was a series of workshops and presentations on such subjects as first nations artifact collections, preservation of artifacts and the digital storage of oral history recordings.
Linnea Battel travelled to Dawson from Mission, B.C. to talk about the Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre and the work going on there. That evening, there was a showing of Gil Cardinal’s documentary, Totem: the Return of the G’psgolox Pole. This film chronicles the tale of a 19th century Haisla memorial pole which was taken to Sweden in 1929, rediscovered by the Kitamaat people in 1991, and returned to its place of origin quite recently. It is a complex tale of a “stolen” artifact that might not have survived if it had not been preserved in a museum in Stockholm for all the years in between.
Cardinal himself was supposed to have been in Dawson to introduce the film and give a talk on its making, but he was fogged-in in Toronto during a week when Dawson was enjoying some fine, sunny late winter weather.
On Friday representative of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Parks Canada, the Dawson City Museum and the Yukon Government staged a panel discussion called “Working Together: the Opportunities and Impacts of Emerging First Nations Heritage Programs”. The afternoon saw the beginning of the craft activities that would continue for much of Saturday, along with some Hän Language activities conducted by Angie Joseph-Rear.
On Friday evening there were two community presentations in the lecture hall. The first was on Yukon Ice Patch research by Diane Strand, who has been working with artifacts discovered in melting ice fields in the southern Yukon; the other was historian David Neufeld’s lecture and slide show about how Yukon first nations have interacted with the land in legend and in culture over the centuries. Neufeld has been doing a lot of cooperative work in Dawson over the last few years, and his talk is partly the story of his own growth in understanding.
Saturday was set aside for more work on crafts: snowshoe webbing, babiche bags, beading, sewing, leather work and more. There was a particular emphasis on snowshoes, with Champagne-Aishihik elder Paddy Jim on hand to show how the work is done.
“The only way you learn is to try,” he told Georgette McLeod, who watched with admiration as Jim created the complex webbing patterns in front of her.
One of the displays was of different types of snowshoes, with Glenda Bolt said were from various places, including the TH collection, which had been increased just that day by a donation from the Titus family. Mr. Titus said the shoes had been made for his mother many years ago.
Organizer Jody Beaumont was pleased with the turnout.
“We’ve had a lot of traffic in and out for all the events we’ve been having all week. “ At times the center was crowded with 100 people or more.
“There were lots of visitors from other towns: Old Crow, Champagne-Aishihik, Mayo and Whitehorse.”
Beaumont said that some of the visitors were looking at developing similar programs in their communities and were in Dawson to see how things were organized here.
“The school project was really something,” Beaumont said. “There are some great stories from that group.”
That afternoon Angie Joseph-Rear thought the best part of the event was the sewing, which she really likes, but she might have changed her mind after the feast and the dancing at the Community Hall across the road. The tables were laden with lots of traditional foods, and the costumed youngsters presented a display of group dancing, scarf dancing and jigging that eventually got a lot of the older folks up and moving as well.
It was a fitting way to end a half week of events celebrating heritage, or, as it is translated into Hän, “däno nts’ä tr’ädäl” (how we come through the past).
No Sneaking out of Dawson City
by Dan Davidson
If you have any sort of public profile at all, you can’t just sneak out of Dawson when it comes time to move on. If you’re Dominic Lloyd, after nearly five years as the producer of the Dawson City Music Festival and several more years with Parks Canada and the Klondike Visitors Association, you can’t get out of town at all without a last farewell.
What’s more likely is that people will sneak into your house, pilfer assorted items, make up a bunch of posters of you in one your many distinctive
Anyone that didn’t know Dom was moving on was quickly clued in by Maximilian’s Window of Dom (the deserter).
The climax of this fortnight of hazing came on February 29, Dom’s last night in town, when the man of many hats found himself enthroned and crowned, sitting in the lowest comfortable chair that could be pressed into service as the place of honour, during a farewell dinner at the Oddfellows’ Hall.
Raised in Whitehorse, the 32 year old Lloyd came to Dawson 8 years ago and landed a position as a tour guide with Parks Canada. The next year he managed special events for the KVA, before finding his niche at the Music Festival (where he began sneaking into the big tent when he was about 12, according to old timers). He had already joined the board and was an easy choice for producer when Jennifer Edwards moved on after the 20th anniversary bash.
Less well known is his brief stint as a substitute teacher at Robert Service School, where his sartorial elegance earned him the sobriquet “Mr. Pink Floyd”.
Dom is no moving to bigger things in the city of Winnipeg, where he is taking on the job of artistic director for the West End Cultural Centre, housed in a former church. It’s an inner city music hall. Dom has been holding concerts in Dawson’s churches for years, so it shouldn’t be a big stretch.
At the roast, Dom sat either deadpan or convulsed with laughter, as emcees Bill Holmes and Wayne Potoroka let their hair down after weeks of dismal meetings at Dawson’s City Hall, where they are both councillors, and guided the only too willing audience through a history of Dom’s life in Dawson, a Jungian psychoanalytical portrait of the ambitious music meister, a séance with his dead cat, the beginning of a pool on how long it would take him to fail in Winnipeg and come back, and a marvellous multimedia slide show assembled by Jay Armitage.
In an unintentionally humorous moment, the DVD containing the slide show got lost and stuck inside the machine and Dom almost had to help his tormentors do their presentation.
That’s another aspect of his contribution to the town. If there’s been a public event, speech, forum or concert in the last few years, chances are it was Dom on the soundboard, checking the microphones and making it all work. He’s also shown real promise as an auctioneer in recent months. And, of course, in the off season, he’s often been found pulling shifts at Maximilian’s Goldrush Emporium On Front Street, where the staff took their revenge in the store window.
The normally imperturbable Dom finally broke down during his closing words to his friends and well-wishers. Earlier in the evening he had made a bit of fun of everyone with a quickly composed rap, but in the end it was all a bit much.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever done is decide to leave Dawson, and I’m not leaving because I don’t like it here, so don’t get me wrong for sure. I’m just trying to do something new, and I hope that I’ll be back here some time.
“This is the greatest town on earth,” he said, as his voice began to break, “and you people have made my eight years in Dawson just the best years ever. Thanks for coming.”
The standing ovation should have been a signal for an encore, but he did have to travel the next day.
Humane Society holds AGM 2004
By Aedes Scheer
The 9th AGM of the Humane Society Dawson was held March 2nd at the Downtown Hotel conference room. Twelve people attended.
Mindy Potoroka presented her report as President and outlined the challenges and highlights of the past year. She thanked our staff for their hard work and dedication. 2003 was a difficult year for the HSD due to financial constraints. The HSD received less than half the usual level of funding from government sources and also lost some regular fundraising sources. Although we have a ways to go yet, our fundraising efforts have been very successful and due to the support of many local businesses and individuals to whom the HSD is very grateful. Successful fundraising events held in 2003 include:
a. Thawdigras dog show and Dog Ball Highball
b. Strut your Mutt dog walk-a-thon
c. Movie night at KIAC
d. Community Birthday Calendar
e. The fall donation drive
f. Bedding straw sales
g. Christmas bazaars
h. HSD Christmas Gift Auction (many thanks to Cathy Wood for her organizational magic!)
i. Donation of a percent of fuel sales from the Dominion Shell Station
j. Numerous charity bars
k. Pet boarding
l. and Bingo!
Isaac Fage, our Shelter Coordinator, reported that the Animal Shelter is quite full and has been busy this year. Over the last year 10 dogs, 12 cats, 4 rabbits, and a one-winged raven were successfully adopted to good homes. Much of this was accomplished through valuable contacts at the Calgary Humane Society, the Inuvik SPCA, and the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy Group. Additionally Air North has generously donated the airfare for these animals and the Board members of the HSD extend their thanks to Air North. Four dogs were euthanised for medical reasons or because they showed aggressive behaviour making them unsuitable for adoption. While euthanasia is a sad reality for most animal shelters, to put down only 4 animals over the last year is a far cry from 1994 when more than 100 animals were euthanised and the greatest proportion of these were impounded animals.
The Shelter Coordinator and the Animal Control Officer, Chad Tracey, actively promoted public education and awareness programmes such as Bite-Safe, humane education, and responsible animal care. Presentations were made to daycares and K-4 students at Robert Service School. Shelter visits were accommodated for the City Recreation group “Youth Minds”, the Brownies, and youths filling Community Service hours.
The new executive for the 2004 year is:
• President: Aedes Scheer
• Vice President: Mindy Potoroka
• Treasurer: Cara MacAdam (with the assistance of Rachel Wiegers)
• Co-Secretaries: Riley Brennan and Marta Selassie
• Directors: Miriam Kaytor, Karen McWilliam, Tyson Foxcroft, Cathy Wood, Isaac Fage (after March 12th)
The HSD Board would like to thank Father John Tyrrell for his years on the Board as Treasurer. Since he joined the Board in 1997, the bookkeeping for the HSD has become much more convoluted and he handled this with aplomb. He is also a handy kinda guy and has many times rewired dog runs, glue gunned loose bits, and patched whatever needed patching. We wish him all the best in his endeavors.
The new HSD Board looks forward to the new year and continuing our service to the community.
The Humane Society Animal Shelter can be reached at 993-6900.
Bonspiel marks 105th Anniversary
The 105th Dawson City International Bonspiel was held February 19 21 with 18 teams taking part.
Mark Castellarin skipped his rink of Jim Leary, Lorraine Millar and Duane MacKenzie to A-side victory over surprise runner-up Dick Van Nostrand whose team of Eric and Lori Zalitis and Monna Sprokreeff were the surprise of the ‘spiel. Coming in to the tournament
with little preparation, Van Nostrand’s rink fought their way to the final only to lose a hard-fought battle against a consistent and steady Castellarin rink.
In the B-Side final, rinks skipped by Akio Saito and Jack Fraser exchanged points over 8 well-fought ends before Saito secured a nail-biting two-point victory with his last rocks. C-Side action saw the Chris Mayes’ rink snatch a slim victory from the Potoroka rink. Neither team were able to score more than one point an end before the Mayes rink broke out for 4 in the 7th and buried Potoroka’s hopes for c-side glory.
In a closely-contested and well curled D-Side final, Monica Kulych’s rink from Whitehorse took out the Odd Rocks from Fairbanks. These two talented clubs entertained the crowd with perhaps the best played game of the tournament. The well-executed shots and brilliant strategy displayed by both these rinks had many in the crowd wondering why they were in the d-side final in the first place.
Skip Rick Reimer took a strange route to the prize table by earning “first out” honours at this year’s ‘spiel. Reimer was helped by a two-end drubbing in his second game that saw his team give up 8 points in the first two ends. The Reimer team had shaken hands and were on their way to the refreshment stand before anyone could suggest a third end.
The event capped off with a banquet at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s where it was revealed that event organizer Akio Saito had received the Burt Boyd Trophy the previous week for outstanding contribution to curling in the Yukon. The award comes in recognition for Mr. Saito’s commitment to curling in the Klondike.
Dawson Musher Takes 7th Place in Junior Quest
by Dan Davidson
Where will the next generation of mushers come from? They are out there, already, and one of the proving grounds for future racers, as shown by Kyla Boivin, is the Junior Yukon Quest, which was run from Fairbanks to Twin Bears, Alaska, on February 7th and 8th.
Joining the pack this year was 14 year old Daniel Joinson of Dawson, running his first big race since he began the sport at the age of 9. On his first attempt he managed to place 7th in a field of 14 mushers in a total time of 24 hours and 23 minutes.
Daniel says that he’s always been around dogs and got nipped by the urge to race while following in father Jerry’s footsteps. First he ran along with his dad, but eventually started running alone. Daniel looks after his own dogs, a task which consumes many hours a week, but enjoys the time he spends with them.
Training for races is a hard job which takes place with or without snow, though running with a sled is preferable to running with a four-wheeler.
Daniel says the Junior Quest was a test he set himself just to see if he could do it. Finishing with all 10 dogs was important to him.
The race follows the Quest trail for a day’s run to Twin Bears, where the teams have to take a 12 hour layover before leaving again. Daniel found that he didn’t get a lot of sleep there – got way too little, in fact.
He credits his dogs with keeping him on the return trail when he fell asleep for what he thinks was about 30 minutes. Something woke him up just as his team finally missed a trail marker, and after he figured it out he had to backtrack a little, but not too much.
Other than that, he says the race was hard, but also fun.
Daniel had a lot of community support, but also worked hard to raise the money for this venture. One of his sponsors was the City of Dawson, for whom he did odd jobs in exchange. Council members commented at the time that it was wonderful to have someone ask for a way to raise money rather than just asking for it.
Other sponsors included Colonel Norris Petit (Canadian Forces National Defence, Northern Division), the Klondike Visitors Association, Van Every Inc., Wild ‘n’ Wooly, Hair Cabaret, The Dog House, Klondike Kate’s, Al and Madeline Rothwell, Marg Hicks, Jim and Lou Anderson.
Trekkers Hit the Streets
by Dan Davidson
It began last weekend, and continues this weekend and next, as hundreds of snow machines endure the ride from Tok, Alaska, to Dawson City and back in the 11th year of the Trek Over the Top.
To accommodate this influx of riders, the City of Dawson actually has to be
Trek Over the Top machines line 2nd Avenue opposite the Downtown Hotel. Photo by Dan Davidson
careful not to clean too much snow off its streets and leave some part of each intersection unsanded.
Possible impacts on the future of the Trek provided one of the few concerns expressed when the YTG announced the beginning of the Yukon River Bridge Project here on March 3. Chamber members were assured by MLA Jenkins and others that it would be a while before the Top of the World/Taylor Highway (the route followed by the Trek) would be ploughed and open year round, and that even then a way would be found to keep a route open for Dawson’s biggest winter tourism event.
Fentie’s Folly based on False Hopes
In the first part of a recent article (in the Yukon News), Martin Gehrig, the current president of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, goes on about how if there were a bridge “people could access the Top of the World an extra three months a year,:”
This is a completely naive belief, based only on the hope the Top of the World would be kept open because of a bridge.
There are a number of reasons why this hope is silly.
First, why would Alaska agree to maintain its side of the road, which would cost it a bundle of money, when it already has a strong connector to the Yukon, the Alaska Highway?
And after this bridge is built, who says the Yukon will be able to afford to maintain one side of the road?
And what if the Yukon government changes hands in the near future and the new politicians don’t want to keep the highway open?
When that happens, it will prove to be a political bridge and nothing more.
The weather conditions on the Top of the World are some of the windiest, and drifting snow is extremely common. The road is curvy and dangerous. Who would really want to drive that road in the winter?
And would Canada and the USA both think it worthwhile to keep the border open year round?
So much of the argument for the bridge is based on the idea that the road is going to open up. This idea is totally unrealistic and the Yukon Party knows it.
At a public meeting in Dawson City, Premier Dennis Fentie didn’t once mention any contact with Alaska regarding the highway and keeping it open, even though his talk was all about stronger ties with Alaska.
And when asked by an audience member, “Shouldn’t the road be open before the bridge is built?” he simply replied, “I think differently.”
Something that Fentie seems to forget (and I have no problem reminding him about) is that he is in office to serve the people, not himself and his cabinet members.
My question to Yukoners is: Do you want your tax dollars spent on a bridge to nowhere?
Do you want $30 million spent so that 75 West Dawson residents can have full-time access to Dawson City, even when half of them do not want a bridge?
This is your money that will be spent on the golfers in Dawson, so they do not have to wait in the ferry lineup.
Speak up, Yukoners; it is not too late.