It won’t be immediately obvious to anyone not involved in either history or journalism that this column’s title is a homage to a 35-year tradition that spanned the years 1954 to 1989.
Ye editor wanted me to call this column “Dan’s Dawson”, a suggestion from which I recoiled in horror. Johnny Caribou, a sometime scribe here, is fond of referring to The Klondike Sun, which I edit, as “The Klondike Dan” because I often write a lot of it. I thought I’d avoid that particular bit of hubris in these pages.
Besides, I already had an idea for what this might be called if I decided to write it.
THE Klondike Korner took up the task of getting the news out of Dawson upon the demise of the Dawson News in 1954. H. Samuelson’s paper was killed when the federal government pulled the capital city rug out from under Dawson and spread it down under Whitehorse, just one of the many unintended consequences of the building of the Alaska Highway.
According to a document which Paula Hassard at Parks Canada pulled up for me, which I needed to confirm the folklore I already knew, the KK was originally printed on legal-size paper by the mimeograph process and came out every two weeks.
By the time I came along, the ladies who ran the thing had graduated to a gestetner operation and finally to an electrostatic gestetner maker, which enabled them to include some fairly muddy-looking pictures in the final product.
Those first KK pioneers called themselves the NUTS, which even later members did not know stood for “No one Under Thirty”. By 1985, when I arrived, it had long been known simply as the Nutty Club.
By the fall of 1988, the membership of the Nutty Club had fallen off sharply, and some of the ladies were thinking it was time to upgrade – or perhaps to fold.
The organization which was to become the Literary Society of the Klondike (why that? another story …) was a different sort of fish. It included men, for one thing, and the ages involved ran from late-20s to mid-60s.
Most of the NUTS didn’t want to get involved, but we poached Kathy Jones-Gates, Palma Berger and Sourdough Sue Ward from the group, along with John and Madeleine Gould, Richard Blais, Dawn Mitchell and Chere Mitchell.
If I’m forgetting someone, I apologize.
The list of people who have been involved with the paper in its 21 years since May, 1989, runs to some four single-spaced pages. Many of them, like Michael Gates and Murray Matchett, were not board members, but were enthusiastic volunteers.
That, however, is another story (hint, hint.)
This story is about the title of this column, which has apparently been the subject of some small discussion among former NUTS.
I should mention that the NUTS, who were still putting out the KK in the spring of 1989, looked at our efforts to found the Sun with some relief and thought that perhaps the new group was nuts. Their numbers were down and they were getting tired. After some negotiation, and the promise of several years of subscriptions to each of them, they retired from the field and gave us their blessing and their subscription list.
THE Klondike Korner ceased to exist.
I wouldn’t dream of poaching that name, which is why this column is called “A Klondike Korner“. It’s not the original thing, and it’s very much my own view of my little town, but the choice was intended to be a homage to the original, and I hope it will be received that way.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.