The Klondike Sun, to which Berton was referring in his guest editorial in that first issue, has made it through its 21st year. Last issue, I dropped several hints that the origins of our little paper would be my subject this week.
The paper was launched under the supervision of the Klondike Sun Newspaper Society back in May of 1989. It was not a sudden thing. A dozen of us had been meeting for several months, trying to figure out how to get it going, what to call it and what we would need to have to do it.
I’d worked on the Faro Raven and had been writing for the Whitehorse Star since 1977. Kathy Jones-Gates had also written for the Star and had published a summer insert called The Dawson Packet.
Sourdough Sue Ward had worked for the legendary newspaper publisher, Ma Murray, down in BC years before. Dawne Mitchell was writing for the Yukon News. Chere Mitchell had once been a typesetter.
Others included John and Madeleine Gould, Richard Blais and Palma Berger. What united us was the sense that Dawson deserved to have an actual newspaper again after a lapse of over 35 years.
For a name we settled on a combination of words from the Klondike Nugget and the Midnight Sun, two gold rush era papers.
Sue Ward bought us a Macintosh SE computer and a Laserwriter printer to type the articles on. The now defunct and vanished Golden Age Social Club offered us its back room to work in.
A lot of the ads were designed by hand with letraset, scissors and glue. Those that weren’t came out of my Apple //c computer at home.
Louise Ranger typed a lot of stories into the Mac. Murray Matchett and Paula Paulovich dropped by to assist in gluing the strips of columns to the layout sheets. Others turned up from time to time – so many, that we listed them as “Diverse Hands” in the masthead.
Mike and Kathy Gates retreated to their darkroom down the street and developed our pictures. Madeleine sold our ads and John helped schlep the papers around to our distributors.
We had thought that we’d produce perhaps one 16-page paper a month. We were so wrong. It was never that small – never has been.
It would only be a few years before we went biweekly and had to hire a full-time/part-time employee to keep the up the pace. We have stayed that way ever since.
There have been setbacks. The Registrar of Societies informed us that we couldn’t register under our chosen name. There were too many other groups (mostly in Whitehorse, as it happened) that started with the word “Klondike”. So we became the confusingly named Literary Society of the Klondike and we try to publish poems and stories as well as news to live up to that name. In many ways we’re more of a newsprint magazine.
About a year after we began publication, the government determined to demolish our “home” and, after several tense months, we moved into our present quarters in the City of Dawson’s Waterfront Building. That meant we had to start paying for rent and utilities.
It’s sometimes a struggle, but it’s also very satisfying.