Poetry à la Commode

If you’re looking for good weekend sport

then Dawson’s still holding the fort.

Be real spiffy

and bring your own biffy

and then you will not get caught short.

here was a time when Dawson’s Great International Outhouse Race was at least partly a serious affair.


You may be wondering how that could be. How could a biffy on wheels, hauled and pushed by four runners while the fifth team member sits on the throne, possibly be in the least bit serious?

Granted, at least half of the teams weren’t serious at all. Half were decorated in a variety of eye-catching facades with colourful names like the Elton John, the Royal Flush, the Whizzer of Oz, the Downtown Flaming Farts and the Mad Crapper of Rat River.

Those teams couldn’t work up much speed. Their costumes and their architecture were against them. They were in the race for serious fun, and often made so many pit stops at the bars along the route that organizers were tempted to send out search parties to see what had become of them hours after everyone else had crossed the finish line.

But there were always some stripped-down backhouses, decorated with a minimum of frills and with teams dressed to run. They vied to win this race and rivalries extended over a period of many years.

In those days, the route began in front of the museum (fittingly beside the RV dump station at the sewage screening plant) and climbed the hill to 8th Avenue, from which there was a death-defying run down Queen Street to Front Street, before circling back to 5th Avenue.

More than one crapper almost became a cropper on that hill.

Those races were fast and the two competing hotel teams strove to outdo each other annually.

Eventually however, the outhouse race, the last weird event of Dawson’s tourist season, was eclipsed by no-nonsense relays and marathons elsewhere and serious runners saved their energy for these contests.

Today’s race is all about the fun.

The course begins at Gerties and follows the only level ground in the downtown core. The race includes a scavenger hunt and a limerick contest.

Unfortunately, almost no one seems to know how to write a limerick, so some of the literary results are less than inspiring, but the costumes and themes continue to be interesting and a pretty good crowd comes out to see how crazy Dawson can be.

There always seems to be one team made up of visitors to the Klondike from far away, allowing us to continue to call it “international”.

This year’s event will be on Saturday, Sept. 4. Contact the Klondike Visitors Association to reserve an outhouse.