queen takes final bow

If you like to sit down to a good feed of salmon, then you have cause for celebration. That's because the controversial Yukon Queen II tourist boat will ply the Yukon River no more.

If you like to sit down to a good feed of salmon, then you have cause for celebration.

That’s because the controversial Yukon Queen II tourist boat will ply the Yukon River no more.

Its owner, cruise ship giant Holland America, has decided to take her back down south, where she presumably came from in the late 1990s.

For more than a decade, the Queen carried the company’s cruise ship clientele from Dawson City downriver to Eagle, Alaska.

It was the third boat the company pressed into service on the river. It was also the biggest and the fastest.

Speeding along that 160-kilometre stretch – peppered with points of interest like historic Forty Mile and the legendary Old Man and Old Woman landmarks – the Queen was a popular excursion.

If they were lucky, passengers might even see a fishwheel churning in some isolated eddy or a fisherman hauling home his daily catch.

It should have been a match made in heaven – wilderness, history, culture and tourism – but it wasn’t.

All because of the great wake.

Its combination of speed, size and power created huge waves that crashed into the shoreline and eroded the banks.

Salmon fry were sometimes sucked into the jet engines or taken along for the wave ride, only to be stranded on shore once the water receded.

Small boaters, if given the choice, waited until well after the Queen had passed before launching their own craft into the choppy waters.

Canoeists paddled madly when they saw her coming, trying to get as far away as possible.

Rather than being admired as a modern marvel of river travel, the Queen became an object of dread.

Complaints piled in. Investigations and studies were conducted, reports filed.

But it remained a conundrum no authority seemed able or willing to wrestle to the ground.

Even the Yukon’s environmental assessors threw up their hands after trying to decide whether she should be allowed to keep on running.

No doubt, a big sigh of relief went through their offices, not to mention the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation and the Fisheries Department, when news of her departure recently arrived.

Hats off to Holland America.

It may be quitting the Queen tours, but it says it has no intention of quitting Dawson City.

It says it’ll still bring busloads of visitors to comb the gift shops and gamble at Gerties.

Its guests will still enjoy a river tour, courtesy of the locally owned (and aptly named) Klondike Spirit boat.

And when their bags are full and their pockets are empty, they’ll still be able to gather around to dine on a delicious salmon dinner.

Not many stories have happy endings anymore so we should celebrate the ones that do.

Long live the Queen. May she live happily ever after.

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