It’s always interesting to learn how other people see us. Three creative spirits passed our way a couple of weeks ago and left us with some thoughts connected to our sense of place.
Iain Baxter& said he thought the drive to Dawson was like living in a Monet painting. I would have picked one of the Group of Seven or Tom Thomson myself, but I can see why he said it.
Nino Ricci said he had always imagined Dawson in black and white, the legacy of all those picture albums that reproduce the grey and sepia tones of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The colour was a surprise.
The fact is that the colour was a surprise when it came back to Dawson in the 1990s. Up to then the colour scheme on our buildings was largely white, grey or weathered wood. Suddenly one of our local contractors went all Ted Harrison on us, and once that cat was out of the bag, no one could put it back.
People were actually upset when the restoration job on the Commissioner’s Residence saw it painted a historically accurate golden yellow instead of the white it had been for so long.
Alistair MacLeod said he was surprised to find graveyards here. Did he expect that no one died here, or that no one stayed here long enough to be buried? In truth, people come here to be buried. We’ve been the final resting place for a rebellious Alaskan politician who was angry with his home state.
Three sisters from the southern states who lived here as children have reserved sites in our town cemetery. They picked them out a few years ago and did a Navajo dance on them (one of them was an anthropologist) at the time. One of them has since been buried here, and the whole immediate family made a trek north for the event.
Speaking of getting a sense of place, Parks Canada is asking us to take a good hard community look at how we see ourselves now and how we would like to be seen in five or 10 years. This is all in aid of revising Parks’ management plan for the Dawson Historical Complex, or Klondike National Historic Sites as it is perhaps more widely known.
The first meeting in a series of three initial opinion-gathering sessions has already taken place in the Palace Grand Theatre, and the next will be at Bear Creek on Oct. 3 in the afternoon.
Those who were invigorated by the recent Bear Creek Oral History Project and would like to see more attention paid to the Klondike’s corporate history period should pay attention to these meetings.
We’re being asked to consider what we would like to see happening here in the year 2025. That’s a tall order, but if the ideas aren’t included in the revised management plan, they just won’t happen.
So pay attention, folks. If you can’t get to a session in person, log on to www.parkscanada.gc.ca/klondike and make your opinions known.