John Tyrrell, a former Dawsonite now living in Cyprus, where he is Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia, writes to say that the anglophiles in his city are organizing a Burns Night for Jan. 25 and that they are following the Dawson tradition of calling it a “Double Bob.”
This is a reference to the fact that both Robby Burns and Robert Service share the month of January as their birth month, though they are some 146 years and 9 days apart.
Both men are known as “The Bard” in their respective regions of fame, Burns being the Bard of Scotland and Service the Bard of the Yukon. Both men are Scots, though Service was born to a Scottish family living at the time in Lancashire, England.
Service believed himself to be distantly related to Burns, though his verses certainly owe more to the style of Rudyard Kipling than to the Ploughman Poet. Indeed, Service is often referred to as “the Canadian Kipling.”
The notion of the Double Bob began in Dawson close to 20 years ago. There had been Burns Dinners, which are an annual tradition around the world, but members of the Dawson Community Library Board wondered if it wouldn’t be possible to inject a bit more of the Klondike into the affair. Noting that both poets were born in January (the 25th and 16th respectively), they decided to have a combined celebration and call it the Double Bob Bash.
It’s not a big gathering. Somewhere between one and two-dozen people get together — some in full Scottish regalia — to celebrate good verse, good food and good company.
The site has moved around a few times, but recent years have seen folks gathering at the Legion Hall for a potluck meal, which always includes a haggis of some description, and Celtic music, either live or canned.
Following the meal comes the meat of the evening, recitations of poems by Burns and Service, as well as some original works by members of the feast.
Some will have prepared their choices beforehand, even reciting from memory; others will choose from a selection of volumes provided for the evening.
It is safe to say that Service, being easier to read, tends to get more space in the evening than Burns, whose faux-Gaelic renderings can be a bit hard on the tongue.
It’s nice to see some of our Dawson innovations migrating to other places. I am aware of one or two outhouse races held at points south and east of here, after visitors saw our annual event.
And now the Double Bob has gone to Nicosia.
This is quite fitting as the Tyrrells, John and Carol, were among those who arrived at the evening in full regalia during their time here. Avid supporters of the event, it is no wonder they would help to export it to their current home.
Here in Dawson City, the Double Bob was held at the Legion Hall on the evening of Jan. 26.