Celebrating the Klondike’s Literary Legends

During the week that leads to the Discovery Days weekend, the Klondike Visitors Association, Parks Canada and the Writers’ Trust of Canada celebrate the writers who have made Dawson City world famous.

Part of this event, called Authors on Eighth, is a writing contest that began in June and ended in July, in time for the entries to be judged and then announced during the walking tour on August 17.

The challenge was to “Write Like a Legend.”

The legends, in chronological order, are Jack London, Robert W. Service, Pierre Berton and Dick North, all of whom lived in Dawson at one time in their lives, wrote about it, and have buildings attached to their names.

There’s no plaque on the Fairview Apartments unit on Seventh Avenue that North occupied for a number of years, and where he wrote his last book, Sailor on Snowshoes, but since the Jack London Museum would not have come into being without his contributions, the statement still stands.

The other three buildings are all on Eighth Avenue, in a line I usually refer to as the Writers’ Block, beginning with the Jack London Museum and proceeding north to Robert Service’s Cabin and then across the street to Pierre Berton’s House.

“Dawson City has inspired people to dream and create for years,” says Paul Robitaille, marketing and events manager for the Klondike Visitors Association. “Authors on Eighth celebrates the rich literary history of the Klondike and showcases current talented writers from around the world.”

The two winners (one each for poetry and prose) receive an actual gold nugget and a selection of Klondike books, but all the submissions do get published in the Klondike Sun, the local newspaper. It took nine months to get all the 2016 entries in print.

This year the celebration actually began with three nights of 6 o’clock readings (broadcast on CFYT-fm) held at the London, Service and Berton sites, beginning on Monday August 14.

On Thursday, August 17 there will be a two-and-a-half hour tour of all three sites, beginning at 2 p.m., featuring abbreviated versions of the presentations usually given by the KVA and Parks Canada at the Jack London Museum and Robert Service’s Cabin.

The last stop is Berton House. Here an introduction to the residence’s history and the writer-in-residence program will be given (by this writer), and the presentation of the poetry and prose awards from the contest.

The stop at Berton House will also include a reading by this month’s writer-in-residence, Eva Holland, and a buffet snack table provided by the KVA.

There will also a tour of Pierre Berton House, which only happens once per year at this Authors on Eighth event. As this is a residence, it is not generally open to the public. The tour typically attracts 40 to 60 people and is free.

For more information about the Authors on Eighth event contact the Klondike Visitors Association by phone at 867-993-5575 or by email at [email protected]

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