Tales Of ‘An Alternative Klondike’

The Home Run Gold Nugget: A Klondike Adventure

by David Thompson


I’m not just sure when David Thompson started writing his tales of an alternative Klondike, but he began submitting entries to the annual Authors on Eighth writing contest sometime in the first decade of this century, and by the time he had enough of them to put together, his first book, Talking at the Woodpile (2011), had won the Fiction Category prize—twice.

Two more books have followed since then: Haines Junction (2013), and The Home Run Gold Nugget (2020). Currently, he is finishing up drafts on a fourth book, so far called “The Lucky Inn.”

While about half of his second book is set in Haines Junction, most of the stories he has published, so far, take place in what I’ve called “an alternative Klondike,” and feature settings in Dawson City, Rock Creek and even Stewart Crossing and Mayo as they might perhaps have been in the late 1960s and up to the middle ’70s.

His whimsical stories have been compared to those of Stuart McLean, and this is fair in that his rendition of the Klondike is similar to McLean’s stories, which were set in the suburbs of an alternative Toronto, as narrated on CBC’s Vinyl Café, for years, every Sunday.

They have a flavour of the place, without being entirely accurate (as my son, who has just started reading the books, pointed out to me last week). Some of the buildings aren’t located quite right; and others, like the Stewart Crossing Lodge, have been gone for years.

Thompson’s books are not exactly novels and not exactly short-story collections. The tales in the first book overlap and lead into each other; and the set of characters, settings and groups that he created, then, have flowed through the next two books.

When there is an overarching storyline, as there is in Joshua Waldo Lake Shackelton’s memoir, in the second book, it is often sidetracked into other stories that Joshua heard from or about other people.

The Home Run Gold Nugget is closer to being a novel in that the dominant narrative line is the life and love story of Kevin and Victoria Beals, who make their life together, in spite of some obstacles, and make their living mining on Blanc Raven Creek.

Kevin is the primary narrator of this book—though there are tales that he clearly learned about from other people, rather than having been present himself.

As a young lad, Kevin was heavily influenced by movies and comic books featuring the Lone Ranger, and he swore to live his life according to the Ranger’s Code, as he understood it, which was “to do good all my life.” If he is forced into fighting, he does just enough to do the job—and no more.

For all the whimsy in the book—the constant references to “Spam” being among them, as well as the shenanigans related to The Phantoms car club—there are serious themes as well. There are weddings and parties that get somewhat out of hand. There are lots of campfires and friendly evenings of sharing stories.

Kevin’s ne’er-do-well sister has a Down syndrome child, and Kevin and Victoria raise him after the infant death of their own daughter.

A British soldier on a training exercise is lost in the bush and recovered, while one of his mates is shot by some trophy hunters.

It emerges that Victoria, who hails from Québec, was sexually assaulted by the manager of the local Bay store, when she was young, and had a son who was taken from her. When Kevin finally learns the details, he does “the right thing,” of course, and their two boys are great chums.

The finding of the “nugget” of the title was what inspired Kevin to mine that creek in the first place, and some forty-odd years later, the story ends with him discovering another one, a lot like it, as they are shutting down their operations.

David has a blog, though the most-recent entry there was in 2016. He describes himself as “a general building contractor who has lived in the Yukon Territory since 1962,” and says, “This land and its people is what has inspired me to write short stories describing life in the Yukon.”

(By the way, if you happen to decide to pick up the Kindle edition, the author’s bio on Amazon is totally and completely incorrect.)

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