Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mining Gold without getting your dress dirty

The Yukon Hospital Foundation runs an annual fund raiser to purchase new equipment. Last year they raised about a million dollars for a CT Scanner, this year they want a digital x-ray machine, especially helpful in emailing x-rays for consultation with specialists outside. The primary event is the auctioning of "special" Christmas Trees. Different businesses, government departments and community groups extravagently decorate a tree and assemble a set of associated presents.

The trees come in two classes. There are about a dozen trees prepared with a value of between $400 to $1200. These are set up in a downtown public space and for a week people write increasing bids to take them home. A couple of years ago we purchased the Energy, Mines and Resources tree. It was beautifully decorated with stained glass ornaments made and donated by one of the staff and included a cord of firewood, 50 pounds of Yukon grown potatoes, and 20 pounds of Yukon elk

A second group of trees is also prepared. These, more expensive items, are auctioned at the Hospital's Grand Ball in early December. It is fun. It was one of two formal dress events in the Yukon calendar. Each table gets glow wands to wave around to action their bids. Bidding is generally limited to the lawyers, the doctors and the business tycoons. The Canadian Tire tree this year included a mountain of small appliances, power tools and gadgets that would choke a half-ton truck on a sunny day. Two couples at our table started bidding against each other but quickly itemized which things they were after and ganged up on somebody across the room. Fortunately, the somebody had a bigger wallet so we didn't have to witness the squabble over the espresso machine. The women doctors were just beat out for the five day fly-in fishing trip, but the sponsor, a local construction company, offered to buy two of the trips and so double the bid money going to the Foundation. It appears the bite of the recession in the Yukon has been little more than a gentle nibbling on the earlobe. All together the trees raised over $150,000 for the x-ray machine.

There was also a raffle. Joy bought three tickets. While we missed the spa retreat and the grand prize of a free pass on Air North, Joy did come away with an ounce of raw gold. When she went to pick up her prize she received a plastic film canister with about two dozen good-sized nuggets from a placer mine south of Dawson. Probably the easiest way to mine gold around here. The litle beauties have been sent off to the jeweller to be made into a Christmas ornament.

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