The ice pool tripod is in the river, anchored by a cable to the boxed clock on the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, ready for when the ice moves during breakup some time in late April or early May. The tripod is on the ice between the river bank and the unofficial ice road. It may be carried away by the flowing ice, or it may sink as the ice melts from beneath it. Either movement will stop the clock. PHOTO: Dan Davidson
A statistical prediction created by local engineer, Stephen Johnson, offers a 17 per cent chance that the ice will head down river on May 4 “at precisely 2:43 a.m.” However, Johnson also said that statistics are not to be trusted.
Last year the river broke up on May 3 at 10:04 a.m., but it has been as early as April 23 (2016) and as late as May 28 (1964).
You can check all the available dates and times on a searchable spreadsheet on the YukonRiverBreakup.com website. One thing that is certain is that some factor (climate change?) is causing the date to tend to be earlier over the 123 years that the event has been recorded.
While the contest has been running in some form since 1896, it has been in the hands of the IODE since the 1940s, and is their major fundraising event of the year.
During the March 23 Ice Pool Kick Off event (the first ever), Mayor Wayne Potoroka explained that the funds are used for a variety of charitable causes.
“The money raised in this contest goes back into the community as Christmas presents for seniors, assistance for the Women’s Shelter, the Humane Society, Food for Learning, Girls’ Rock Camp and families in need. [The IODE] also gives a $500 scholarship for a worthy Robert Service School graduate, and buys books for newborn Dawsonites. My daughter still has the one she was given.
“The ice pool is the largest of their fundraising efforts, so please do your part and support the IODE by guessing often. Every ticket you buy helps our community.”
Tickets for the Ice Pool Contest will be on sale in Dawson and at some locations in other towns until April 15.
Between now and the actual event, an increasing number of residents will be seen walking the dyke trail daily, looking for signs of deteriorating ice cover. Someone will be watching when the tripod moves. That person will notify the fire department to sound the siren. Minutes later, regardless of the time of day or night, the river bank will be crowded with people wanting to see the movement. There will be a crowd on the west bank, as well.
By the time this sees print, the unofficial ice road will no longer be safe to use and people in West Dawson and Sunnyvale will be looking forward to the launching of the George Black ferry, which should be in the water before the Victoria Day weekend in May.
Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre is open from June to September. Monday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Summer Operation Hours 8:30 to 5:00pm Office Hours By appointment off-season: 993-7100 ext 500