I noted with amusement the article in the Wednesday, April 20 edition of the Yukon News by Myles Dolphin remembering the Klondike Defence Force of the 1960s. Among other things, it consolidated the Yukon community’s sense of outrage, and affirmed its strong connection to the historical past.
My wife Kathy and I were in Edmonton some years ago when we asked a cab driver what the Klondike Days were all about. According to him, the gold rush took place just outside of Edmonton. The long line of stampeders struggling up the golden stairs? Why that was just up the Saskatchewan River valley a short distance, he told us!
What alarmed me about this revelation was that Edmonton grasped at an historical event that might have been colourful, but was not central to defining the city’s origins. Seattle could get away with claiming a legitimate link to the Klondike – but Edmonton? Celebrating the event year after year has created a false sense of ownership of the event within the public mind of Edmontonians.
If they had to grasp at such a tenuous link to somebody else’s heritage, have they overlooked who they are and what they have become? Oil and agriculture were the foundations upon which the modern province has been built. Have they no grasp of their own history? I think this is a sad indictment of the historians who have failed to fashion a common public perception of identity for Alberta’s capital city.
So they abolished Klondike Days in 2006 and went looking for a new name. And K-Days was the best that they could muster? I did a quick Google search, and as of 2013, I see they are still referring to the Edmonton event as Klondike Days and to “Reliving the gold rush.” They pan for gold and lines of high-kicking dancers perform the can-can. Further Google searching reveals that they are competing with Eagle River, Wisconsin for the title of Klondike Days.
C’mon Edmonton, you can do better than that!