Story & Photo
by Dan Davidson
Canada Day celebrations in Dawson City spread themselves over the weekend, beginning with a feast of Sourdough Pancakes on Saturday morning put on by St. Paul’s Anglican Church at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. For those who had not had quite enough cooked goods, there was the Fourth Annual Bannock Cook-off at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre later that morning.
The big event of the day was the dedication of a plaque out at Dredge #4 as an Historic Civil Engineering Site, and a free opportunity to roam through the vessel, which will be closed to the public after the end of this season due to cutbacks at Parks Canada.
In town, the Dawson Pool was coloured red and open for swimming all afternoon, and for anyone inclined to stroll about there was a Bird-watching Walk along the river and the Ninth Avenue Trail from 3 to 5 p.m.
Bike riders who wanted to decorate and float participants with last minute parade preparations gathered at the Fry Recreation Centre Sunday morning at 10:30, and the RCMP led the parade down King Street to Front St. shortly after 11 a.m., with a good crowd of eager tourists and locals happy to see the short but energetic march.
The parade took about seven minutes to pass any given point on the route and about half an hour to make its way to the Dawson City Museum on Fifth Avenue.
There the crowd assembled for a flag-raising by Diamond Tooth Gertie and her Girls, aided by the Mounties in Red Serge.
As the museum’s executive director Laura Mann informed the crowd, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the DCM moving into the Old Territorial Administration Building (or the Big Cabin, as it was known to old timers in the town) after its original home on Front Street was destroyed by fire.
Mann noted that the fiftieth anniversary seemed to have been marked by a sprinkler system disaster early in the spring.
Mayor Peter Jenkins welcomed locals and guests to Canada Day in Dawson, “the best place to be on Canada Day.”
MLA Sandy Silver had a somewhat longer speech, during which he commented on how quickly the tourist season seemed to be advancing.
“Dawson is an interesting mix. Our history is vibrant, tangible and alive, but we have lived in such close proximity to that, that sometimes we don’t see it as being unusual and we don’t see how lucky we are. We forget that we are living and working and going about our days in an historic site, a living museum.
“The building behind me is 111 years old. It was built in 1901, the same year that Joseph Ladue and James Wilson registered Lot 14 and christened it the Westminster Hotel.”
It hasn’t always been a museum, of course. The building originally housed government offices, as well as the territorial legislative assembly. At various times it has also been home to the local post office, a radio station, and the public school, when the original school burned down.
Following the speeches there was the cutting of the two birthday cakes, a country picnic lunch, and games for the kids in Victory Gardens.
Down on Front Street the Yukon Goldpanning Championships took up most of the afternoon, but there was time for a third cake cutting at the Visitor Reception Centre, more swimming at the pool and live music at the Front Street Gazebo, with Barnacle Bob and Friends and Whoa Bear!