Klondike Korner: Reflections on a Dawson Spring

It is spring in Dawson.

People are in shorts and vehicles are turning brown from the middle of the side panels to the tires.

New vehicles in the Yukon should come from the showroom with a colour scheme I’d call the Yukon Blend. (After the mid-point, the colour should morph into a uniform brownish-grey that carries down to the hubcaps and tires.)

Dawson’s streets are brown too, but the leftover snow is still piled along the sides and the graders have left a trench to carry water to the storm drains at the street corners.

Unfortunately, that means that there’s a massive bump at the end of every block. This may slow down some people who persist in jumping from zero to 60, but it’s a bit of a thump if you’re not driving a truck.

The ice bridge is reduced to a quivering pile of slush and the official “Ice Bridge Closed” sign is up several weeks early. Even West Dawsonites think twice about attempting to cross the river, even on foot. By the time this column is in print, it will be impassible.

Then there are the puddles.

There aren’t as many as there used to be, because drainage has improved and the City of Dawson’s practice of clearing away most of the snow has an effect.

There was a time when Minto Park flooded and kids used to build rafts and play Tom Sawyer (or Jack London) for a week or so.

That this area is prone to flooding was abundantly clear when the foundation pad for the new hospital was being prepared. For awhile, we had a second swimming pool. I had visions of the new building sinking like the Titanic.

Another year, some students from Yukon SOVA rented a canoe and went paddling around the trees on the greensward between Front Street and the dike.

There used to be a yawning puddle on Third Avenue, north of the former Klondike Motors garage, but the vacant lot was filled so there’s less chance of that happening now.

Puddles happen at street corners downtown, right where you to step off the boardwalk to cross the street. The storm drain grid covers are close to those corners, but sometimes they get plugged with debris or freeze, and the puddles become small lakes.

Today (April 17), at the corner of King Street and Third Avenue, the boardwalk was awash and water collected in the vacant lot across the street from the Dawson Hardware Store.

Almost utterly still, it presented a lovely, rippled reflection of the Palace Grand Theatre, the Old Post Office and the Griffiths Building.

Not all the signs of spring are negative after all.

After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.

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