Dawson Dresses Up

Breakup is usually followed by a week of damp chilliness as the cool air moving off the exposed river hits the town, but this year we got six to eight inches of snow as well during the first week of May.

I can’t recall this happening before during my time here.

With the river breakup happening as early as it did it, on May 1, it seemed like a long wait before the ferry entered the water, but it was actually the same day as last year, May 16, so I guess it’s all relative.

The Gold Show weekend was blessed with really fine weather, which was a good thing, since the arena venue is not heated. It was chilly in there, but you could step out into the sunshine and warm up any time.

While the focus of the Gold Show is mining, it is also the time when people pick up their summer plants, which have been growing locally in the greenhouses at both the Vogts’ and the Lenarts’ for some weeks in advance of the big sale.

Suddenly bedding plants and hanging baskets blossom all over town and it really begins to look like summer is coming on.

A series of days that were quite hot and sunny coaxed the leaves on the trees out of hiding as well, and those brownish-grey buds that had been swelling in anticipation burst forth in green in just a few days.

The freshness of the hardwoods even livens up the darker hues on the evergreens, which haven’t begun to show their new shoots just yet.

Painters have been busy around the town, hoping to get as much done as they can while the sun shines, just in case we end up with another wet summer like last year. Klondike Kate’s is getting a fresh coat of paint this week, as is the Gold Rush Campground.

I’m hoping that the Robert Service School will finally see the rest of the paint job that was begun two summers back but never completed.

There are some parts of the building that are a bit shabby, and it should be looking its best as it approaches its 25th anniversary in the spring of 2014, two years from now.

Speaking of bright colours, Commissioner’s Day is fast approaching, with its two main events scheduled for June 9.

The Commissioner’s Tea is a joint project hosted by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) and Parks Canada, and we must hope that Parks will be able to keep this event on its plate in spite of the recent cuts.

The event is a showcase for the Commissioner’s Residence and grounds, with the tea taking place on the lawn and the spacious veranda. There’s a lot of volunteer baking that goes into this event, over which Commissioner Doug Phillips will preside for the second time.

Aside from tea and goodies, there are awards and testimonials and a number of speeches on historic themes.

The evening brings us to the Palace Grand Theatre for the Ball, always a showcase of gowns and tuxes, though this really is the ladies’ show. Debbie Winston and other local seamstresses are working flat-out to finish new gowns and alter the fit on older ones.

There’s always a photo opportunity before the formalities inside, with a dazzling array of formal finery lined up against the magnificent backdrop of the theatre’s façade.

Commissioner Phillips announced last year that his office was taking over the running of this event from the Klondike Visitors Association, so it will be interesting to see what changes that brings to our annual custom.

After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.

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