Sunday, July 1, 2007
DAWSON CITY, YUKON — Val and I were still in the sofa bed this morning when Mum opened the door, dressed in her red and white regalia for Canada Day, to greet the day. I had put up some little Canada Day flags and balloons around the trailer last night to prepare for the day. We got up and at ‘em, had some breakfast and headed in to town for the parade.
In a town the size of Dawson (about 1400 people), everybody gets into the act. Five Mounties were there in their Red Serge, posing for photos with the tourists (including us!), ready to lead the procession. There were antique cars, kids with their bicycles all decorated with streamers and flags, all the fire engines in town, and a couple of floats as well. The whole bunch, participants and spectators alike, ended up at the Victory Garden next to the museum for big slabs of birthday cake and juice.
We strolled through the town to the Commissioner’s residence to watch "The Mounties Get Their Man", a skit by two Parks Canada employees dressed in period costume. The Mountie of the pair was Special Constable Kate Ryan, who rode up on Thunder, her horse (made of a sock and a broomstick) to arrest the nefarious Fred, known for smuggling gold and other unsavory activities. The young lady who played Kate was impersonating a real character, as women were hired from time to time as matrons and given special constable status by the NWMP. It was a fun way to absorb some early RCMP history.
After lunch we brought Mum back to the trailer for a snooze and went back to browse through the Visitor Centre. When we arrived we were offered another slab of Canada Day birthday cake! We started chatting with an American couple who have been stuck in Dawson for two weeks because of complications involving a broken drive shaft on their truck. They’ve enjoyed every bit of their enforced stay! We also took a quick look at some fascinating film footage of gold-digging from the early days.
With Mum back with us, we tromped over to the Palace Grand Theatre, a wonderful two-storey wooden building, to see the "Great Klondike Character Contest". Six young actors described their roles in the life of Dawson’s history with actual photos as the backdrop, and the audience had to vote with their applause for the one they liked the best. Was it the Mountie, who brought law and order? Or Klondike Kate, with the heart of gold? The winner was old Mrs. Tremblay, the first woman to come to the Klondike, who prepared a Christmas dinner for the entire community, sending out invitations on pieces of bark and asking her guests to bring their own cutlery.
A free concert in the gazebo was next on the agenda, with a salmon barbeque offered at the same venue, on the dike next to the Yukon River. We balanced paper plates and lemonade glasses as we made our way to a grassy spot to sit down and eat (all the picnic tables were already claimed) and listen to the music. Then on to the ice cream parlour for dessert and a brief pause to consume our cones on real chairs set out along the board walk.
The finale of the evening was a visit to the log cabin of Robert Service where a character named Johnny, dressed in bowler hat, striped pants and vest, related the life story of this famed poet and recited some of his works. Johnny asked everyone in the audience where they were from, and wove comments into his anecdotes to draw in each person, even giving the cue to one woman to scream at the appropriate spot in The Shooting of Dan McGrew! He did a terrific job.
By the end of a day sitting in hard chairs at the theatre, on the grass at the barbeque and on wooden benches at the log cabin, our backsides were done in, and the soft chairs and couch at the trailer were a welcome resting place at the end of a glorious Canada Day under the midnight sun.