Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Dawson Waterfront

Dawson waterfront in 1898.

The Dawson waterfront was for many years its connection to the outside world. Fifty-five years ago the highway made it to town but the river has lost little of its importance for the people of Dawson. Although there has been talk of building a bridge over the river and thus defacing the river landscape, cars, trucks and 2 and 4 wheelers cross all summer on the ferry. In winter there is an ice bridge with the attending excitement of being the both the first and last across it. Alison's Dad took her on the last trip over one spring, "the water was right over the tires."

Waiting for the ferry (above) and waiting for the traffic (below).

The waterfront collects people, people waiting for the ferry, people waiting for salmon, people watching the river, people guarding the river and people travelling up and downstream to their gardens, fish camps or to Moosehide or further afield to Eagle or Circle in Alaska or even floating all the way to mouth of the river on the Bering sea.

Alison's big sister brings people onto the ferry.

Johny, the mining inspector on the job and looking fiercely at a photographer.

The river front is a busy place. The Yukon Rose sits high on the bank. Brian has been working on restoring the vessel for years. The hull has dried out and he spends his days lying beneath the boat filling the cracks between the hull planks. He wants it in the water in the next couple of weeks so the wood will swell with absorbed water and become watertight.

And there are still some big ships here. The Yukon Queen II carries passengers between Dawson and Eagle every day, one of the most extraordinarily beautiful stretches of a beautiful river. The Klondike Spirit, a vessel built in Eagle, offers day trips on the Yukon for those wanting a round trip back to the City of Gold.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Making Connections on the River

Every spring one of our first river trips is with our Godchildren. This year we motored up river through the turbulence of Miles Canyon to find a sunny sandbar for a picnic. Andrew took the helm while Hen kept a close eye on the river. Hen was going to drive us home in the afternoon.

The rest of gang, bundled up for the wind, settled in for the ride. Seamus read his book in the shelter of the bow while Bronwyn and Julian took turns keeping company with Petrie, the warm dog.

We're a bit late this year. The river has started to rise so the sandbar isn't nearly as large as I remember it from previous visits. But it is still big enough for us to trace out a big ring for playing Fox and Goose. This year we even have a small island in the course.

There's plenty of action. I sit on the sandbank and take photos. Last time I played my knee was wrecked for months. We are planning a Chilkoot Trail hike later this month so I have to be careful, or lazy in the warm sun, you decide.

The obligatory photo of the boat. It gets us into a lot of great places. As we are winding down our games some of the neighbours come over to join us for a cookie and to trade some river stories. They are traveling in a lovely cedar strip canoe made by their grandpa back in the 1970s. There are lots of connections out here.