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Haines Junction swaps used zamboni for 40 sockeye salmon

This 4th of July, Haines Junction Mayor Mike Crawshay drove a second-hand zamboni in the annual parade in Haines, Alaska.

This 4th of July, Haines Junction Mayor Mike Crawshay drove a second-hand zamboni in the annual parade in Haines, Alaska.

Donning a sparkly silver jacket, the mayor was flanked by ice princesses and a hockey player who knocked candy into the crowd with a hockey stick.

“There’s not a lot of stuff that mayors get to do that’s just for fun and this is it. This is the most fun I’ve ever had being on council.”

It was a stylish delivery. Haines had paid for the zamboni in full - with about 300 servings of Alaskan sockeye salmon.

It was about as northern a swap as you will ever find. Instead of buying what they needed, the two communities - about 240 km apart - decided on a trade just in time for holidays on either sides of the border.

Haines needed the ice resurfacing machine, said the borough’s director of tourism, Leslie Ross.

“We have an outdoor rink and an ever-growing group that are playing hockey and recreational skating that are looking to have a larger rink,” she said.

“There’s been talk going on about trying to raise funding to have a indoor rink or a larger rink.”

Right now a volunteer group - mainly the local hockey club - is responsible for shoveling off the rink and putting water down.

The zamboni - actually an Olympia brand machine - will mean a higher quality ice surface, she said.

Talks about giving Haines a spare machine began years ago, said Crawshay. He originally promised one of Haines Junction’s old ones before realizing it wasn’t available to be given away.

Things worked out better this year when Crawshay got a call from Mount Lorne.

A former resident of Haines Junction told the mayor that Mount Lorne had received funding for a new zamboni of their own, so they had an old one to spare.

Mount Lorne had bought the machine from the City of Whitehorse in 1992 for $1.

Haines Junction bought the zamboni from Mount Lorne for 50 cents.

After a small repair to the door of the hopper that holds chips shaved off the ice, Crawshay said the machine is in good working order.

On Canada Day, Haines’ mayor, Jan Hill, visited the Junction to pay up with sockeye salmon for everyone.

Crawshay estimates they were able to serve about 300 people with 40 sockeye at the barbecue.

A local Haines fisherman, paid by the chamber of commerce, caught the fish. The borough paid the cost of processing the catch.

“It was just a huge community event. Everybody chipped in to make it happen and everybody was just tickled,” Crawshay said.

The zamboni has a plaque that reads: “From the Yukon communities of Haines Junction and Mount Lorne to Haines Alaska July 1 and July 4, 2015.”

The Chilkat Valley Dancers from Haines and Champagne and Aishihik’s Dakwakada Dancers were at both events.

“They did a traditional exchange where the Tlingit asked permission to come in to the Champagne Aishihik territory and they did a dance back and forth and then ended up dancing together as they welcomed them,” Ross said.

A similar dance was done on Independence Day.

The swapping of goods is a tradition that goes back long before there was a Haines Junction and a Haines, Alaska, Crawshay said. “We’re continuing that tradition in the form of salmon and a zamboni.”

There are already talks of doing it again - maybe next year with a Yukon bison to swap.

Contact Ashley Joannou at