Dawson has it all.
Young, hippie families with solar power live beside hoteliers and miners moiling for gold.
Established artists tour the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture, while rising rock stars play the town’s famous music fest.
And gold rush spirits haunt abandoned storefronts, while waves of summer tourists flow through town gift shops.
“We do our best to keep the world away from Dawson,” said Holly Halistein, a back-to-the-lander who lives with his young family on the west bank of the Yukon River in Sunnydale.
“It’s the last spot we have on the whole planet where we can do this.”
Dawson is often defined by its hotel owners and “big boy miners,” said Halistein.
But that’s just a portion of it.
“The town’s real character comes from the little miners, inspired artists, trappers, entrepreneurs and the young people, who probably have more university degrees than those who run the town.”
Across the river, in Dawson City, another group of young people talked politics while sitting in a Chinese restaurant.
“Originally, when we just had two candidates, I was going to spoil my ballot,” said landscaper, government employee and local volunteer Debi Wickham.
And now, even with a full slate, she is disappointed the Yukon Party had to fish for a candidate.
Steve Nordick was approached, said Gertie’s Madame and Nordick’s wife Tracy.
“He decided to run about a week ago.”
NDP candidate Jorn Meier was head of the Dawson Chamber of Commerce and is a staunch supporter of placer mining.
He’s sick of the Yukon Party’s empty promises.
Past Tr’ondek Hwech’in chief Steve Taylor is running for the Liberals.
And Glenn Everitt, Dawson’s disgraced former mayor, is running as an independent.
“I wish there was a none of the above,” said Wickham with a laugh.
Previous politicians were out of touch, said Dawson landscaper Brent McDonald.
“But how could they be in touch with the population when they never held a public meeting?”
The town is split over the Yukon Party’s proposed $54 million bridge, a project many in the community called political suicide.
“In a small community there’s lots of silly nit-picking instead of people working together to get something accomplished,” said independent MLA Peter Jenkins’ ex-wife and Raven’s Nook owner Lenore Calnan, a staunch Yukon Party supporter.
“It’s the same old issue all the time,” said chamber of commerce president Dina Grenon.
“They never change — it’s economy, infrastructure and health care.”
But special spots like Dawson don’t have thriving economies, said Halistein.
“They have just-getting-by economies.”
How Klondike voted in 2002:
Peter Jenkins, Yukon Party, 508
Glen Everitt, Liberals, 224
Lisa Hutton, NDP, 200
Percentage of electors who voted: 85
Did you know?
Dawson’s free ferry across the Yukon River is one of the city’s main tourist attractions.
“Even when the lineup is more than two hours long, people rarely complain,” said ferry deckhand Sharon Peerenboom, who’s worked on the ferry 21 years.
It runs 24 hours a day during the summer and employs 16 Dawson residents. (GK)