The Dawson Daily News building shut down as an operating business in 1954, a casualty of Dawson losing its Yukon capital status to Whitehorse.
The newspaper was one of the earliest of many in the town, and the only one to survive the early boomtown days. It moved into its offices in 1910.
These days the building is home to a Parks Canada plaque, a window display and a lot of superannuated printing equipment in the main part of the structure.
A few years ago Parks constructed an attractive display space at the back of the building, but it has seldom had enough staff to add it to any of the tours, and certainly won’t be able to in the immediate future.
From August 17 to 19 it will come alive again as the site of a Print and Publishing Symposium sponsored by Parks, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) and the Dawson City Community Library, with financial support from the Yukon government’s Arts Fund.
Matt Sarty, KIAC’s presentation and events coordinator, says that the idea of using the building for an event has been in the wind for some time.
The event seems to be a natural fit with KIAC’s Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, which is happening at the same time.
The main focus of this event will be print art rather than print writing, though several of the participating artists do both.
“I think that a lot of people in town have been working on the idea of getting print up and running,” Sarty says.
“There are a lot of really amazing print makers in the Yukon, some of whom will be a part of this project. It seems a natural thing, what with print being a big deal in contemporary art practices these days and with our historical connection to print culture.”
The Symposium will feature artists with a wide variety of perspectives presenting workshops, open studios, interactive projects, and events that explore the evolution of print and publishing from historic processes to contemporary artistic practices.
Participating artists are Jp King (Toronto), Peter Braune (Vancouver), Dan Dowhal (Toronto), John Steins (Dawson City), Joyce Majiski (Whitehorse), Sonja Ahlers (Whitehorse), Sheila Heti (Toronto), and Emma Healey (Montreal).
The building will be open to the public during the weekend, and people are invited to enter, interact with the artists, watch them at work and join in the conversations.
A variety of interactive projects, open studios, and workshops will be presented throughout the weekend.
Topics include: “Affordable, Accessible, Alternative Publishing Formats”, “Visual Structure & Narrative”, “Typography, Letterforms & Overprinting”, “Intro to Relief Printing”, “Screen Printed Poster Making”, “Monotype & Collography”, “Digital Nuggets: Crafting & Publishing Your Own Content in the Internet Age”, “Wood Block Printing”, and “Computer Graphics”.
Unfortunately, the equipment stored in the building cannot be used, but Sarty says that KIAC and Parks have located some that can be. One platen press was in storage at the Bear Creek Compound and is being readied for use.
In addition to practical artistic considerations, there will literary readings on Saturday evening by several of the writer/artists, a roundtable discussion called “Spread the Word” on publishing practices on Sunday, and a final event called “The Grand Old Soapbox” later that evening.
Most events will take place in the Daily News building, but the soapbox speeches will happen at the Palace Grand Theatre.
There will also be a spinoff site at the ArtsFest on Front Street operated by the recently formed Klondike Drawing Company.
“I think it’s an interesting opportunity to combine the fine arts and literature in a way that celebrates the history of Dawson and publishing, and perpetuates the use of print and publishing in contemporary art,” Sarty says.