Sunday, December 13, 2015


                                                                      West to the Bay

The word December comes from the Latin word decem which means ‘ten’. In the Roman calendar, which began with the month of March, December was the tenth month. The cold, wintery days between the end of December and the beginning of March did not have a name. Eventually, those days were called January and February and were considered the beginning of the calendar year. Therefore, December became the twelfth month but kept its name.

     The birthstone of December is turquoise with blue topaz a close second. Turquoise color can range from sky-blue to blue green to a vivid green. The flower of December is the narcissus. The Zodiac sign Sagittarius ends on December 21 and Capricorn begins on December 22.

     December is noted for the Nobel Prizes being awarded in that month. Other events that took place in December are: the first Sunday newspaper began publication in Britain on December 4, 1791; the Bill of Rights was passed in the USA on December 14, 1791; the Wright brothers made their first flight on the December 17th, 1903; and the first heart transplant took place in December 03, 1967.

     Celebrations in December include World Aids Day on the first, the International Day of the Disabled Person on the third, and International Hug day on the fourth. Human rights day is on the tenth but there is also the month long observance of Universal Human Rights. Poinsettia Day is on the twelfth.

     Christmas Day is celebrated by Christians around the world on December 25 to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. Some non-Christian celebrations in December include: Hanukkah from December 7-14 on the Jewish calendar; Bodhi Day (Buddhism) on the 8th; and Datta Jayanti (Hinduism) and Yomari punhi (Nepal Era) on the 25th.
     Some facts and beliefs about December:
    December 1st always falls on the same day of the week as September 1st and December 31st is always on the same day of the week as April 30th, even in a Leap Year.

    December 21 is the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and has the shortest number of daylight hours of the year. It is the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere and has the longest daylight hours there.

    The ancient Mayans were very advanced in their culture and in their understanding of the universe. Because the Mayan calendar ended on the 21st of December 2012, many people world-wide thought it predicted the world as we knew it would end on that day.

    If snow falls on Christmas day, Easter will be warm and sunny.

    Some believe that December 28 is the unluckiest day of the year, while spiders and their webs are considered lucky on Christmas.

    More dentists have birthdays in December than in any other month according to a survey done in 2011. The results of another survey showed that couples argue the most during the last month of the year.

    More money is drawn from ATMs during December than in any other month.

    St. Nicholas, was originally the patron saint of children, thieves, and pawnbrokers. He is now known as Santa Claus.

    A Norse tradition of cutting and burning a tree on December 21 to bring in the Winter Solstice was supposed to last for twelve days. This is now known as the 12 days of Christmas.

    Germany had the first artificial Christmas trees. Some were wooden and shaped like a pyramid while others, developed in the 1880s, were made of goose feathers that were dyed green. Candy canes are supposed to represent the Shepherds cane, the star at the top of the tree is for the first Christmas night and candles, which were used before there was power for lights, represented the light of the world.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the Thirteenth 
The Number Thirteen
     The fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia taken from the Greek words tris, for the number '3', kai meaning 'and', deka for the number '10' and phobos which means 'fear'.
     The number 13 has been much maligned over the centuries and maybe with good reason. In the Christian religion there were 13 guests at the Last Supper. Some believe that Judas was the thirteenth one to sit down, although it is not mentioned in the Bible. He betrayed Jesus and later took his own life. This led to the belief that if there are thirteen people at a table, one of them will die within a year.
     There used to be 13 steps up to the gallows.
     At one time a coven had 13 witches.
     In Tarot, the number 13 card is the death card.
Some superstitions around the number 13:
     In Ireland the first two digits on vehicle licence plates represents the year of registration such as 10 for 2010. In 2012, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry thought that for many people the prospect of having '13' on their licence plates might discourage them from buying new cars. The government introduced a system where vehicles bought in 2013 would have '131' on their plates instead of '13'.
     Very few buildings have 13th floor, the elevator going from twelve to fourteen. Strange, because we all know thirteen comes after twelve no matter what name you give it. Is there a thirteenth floor that the elevator passes?
     Most hotels don't have a room 13.
     If you book a table for thirteen people at the Savoy Hotel in London, England, it will be set for fourteen and a sculpture of a black cat called Kasper will occupy the fourteenth chair.
     Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a professional 14th guest.
     In Formula 1 car racing, there is no car with the number 13.
     It is believed that if you have 13 letters in your name you would have Devil's luck. Charles Manson and Theodore (Ted) Bundy are just a few.

Here are some examples in history where the number 13 has led to misadventures.
     Phillip II was king of Macedonia from 359BC to 336BC. He led many wars and eventually ruled over much of Greece. During a procession through a Greek town, Philip II placed his statue beside those of twelve Greek gods making his the thirteenth statue. In 336 he was the leader of the invading army against the Persian Empire. In October of that year his daughter was getting married in the Macedonian capital of Aegae. He was entering the town's theater when he was assassinated by his body guard.
     In Canada, the Seven Years War took place between Britain and France from 1756 and 1763. On September 12, 1759, British troops climbed a steep footpath from the St Lawrence River up to the unfortified Plains of Abraham, named after its original owner, Abraham Martin, who was a ship’s pilot in 1645. The plains were west of Quebec City and the path was guarded by three French militiamen.
     “Who goes there?” one asked.
     “We are a group of French relief soldiers,” an Englishmen answered in French.
     “Pass on by,” the militiaman said.
     And they stood back to let the British troops walk in pairs past them. By morning of September 13th four thousand British troops and their field artillery were assembled on the plains waiting for the French. The French mustered a combination of four thousand regular French militiamen and civilians and faced the British troops. The British had the advantage because their troops were all trained.
     The battle lasted about thirty minutes with the British winning.
     Apollo 13, which was launched from NASA on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 Central time, was halfway to the moon when an explosion disrupted some of its instruments on April 13. It did manage to make it back to earth.
     The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on the 113th flight of the Space shuttle.
     Princess Diana's accident occurred at the 13th pillar of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

     In pagan Rome Fridays were execution days. This was later called Hangman's Day in Britain because that was the day that public hangings took place.
     In some marine circles many sailors did not want to set sail on a Friday.
     In Biblical times the Great Flood, the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, and God tongue-tying the builders of the Tower of Babel supposedly happened on a Friday.

 Friday the Thirteenth
     The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia from the Greek word for Friday, or friggatriskaidkaphobia named after the Norse goddess, Frigg, from whom the English got the name Friday.
     Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in western countries. About eight percent of the people believe that Friday 13th is unlucky. Again this could goes back to the Bible where Eve ate the apple from the serpent on Friday 13th and Jesus died on the cross on Friday 13th.
     On Friday Oct 13th, 1307, Philip IV of France ordered the arrests and assassinations of the Knights Templar.
     In modern times Friday the 13th is called 'Black Friday'. One of the earliest examples of the name was used to refer to the collapse of the United States gold market on Friday, Sept 24, 1869.

 Some Friday the 13th superstitions are:
     Seeing a black cat on Friday 13th is a bad omen.
     If you leave your house by one door you should make sure you enter by that same door to avoid misfortune.
     Some people won't go to work on that day and others will not dine out.
     Many refuse to purchase a house, fly, or even act on a hot stock tip.
     A study in Britain showed that while many people stayed home on Friday 13th, of those who did go out, more people were hospitalized from accidents on that day than on the previous Friday.

      In the 1800s, in order to dispel the fears of superstitious sailors who would not sail on a Friday 13th, the British Navy commissioned a ship which was baptized the H.M.S. Friday. The crew members were picked on a Friday and it was launched on Friday 13th. Unfortunately, it was never seen or heard from again. Some call this a myth while others say that the navy wiped out all record of the voyage.

 The Flip Side:
     In some cultures Friday is considered a lucky day for sowing seeds and planting potatoes.
     The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday.
     In the United States the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. It has been given the term Black Friday because that is when retailers begin to see a profit.
     Most workers like Friday because it is the last work day of the week and signals the beginning of the weekend.
     Thirteen is a prime number, which means it cannot be divided by any number other than itself. Hence, it symbolizes qualities of incorruptible nature and purity.
     In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered  the thirteenth and most powerful god. He was associated with totality, completion, and attainment.
     In Hindu mythology, Maha Shivratri was celebrated on the thirteenth night of the Magha month, which is a very sacred and holy night for all Shiva followers.
     The Thai New Year (Songkran Day)  begins on April 13th. It is a time to wash away all the bad omens by splashing water on friends and relatives.
     This one can be taken either way: our children become teenagers on their 13th birthday.
     My name, Joan Donaldson, has 13 letters in it but, unlike Theodore Bundy, I haven't killed anyone except in my mystery novels.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Poetry Moment

My Poetry Moment

     Over my writing career I have had articles, short stories, travel books, and mystery, young adult, and science fiction novels published. And one poem. When that one poem was accepted for publication, I felt I had taken my writing to another level. I decided, though, that my contribution was going to be different, that I was going to take the poetry community by storm. I wanted to make my mark, to stand out in the poetry world. And to do that I came up with a new poetry sub-genre that I called Script Poetry. Just like a movie script I set up the scene and the tone for the poem and give some background of the story in the poem by using a script layout. It made the whole poem more visual and that way I could get right to the meat of what I wanted to say.
     I enthusiastically sent out my script poems and waited for the accolades to come in.
     Surprisingly, the publishers were not as galvanized about this new style of poetry as I was. No one accepted them for publication.
     But never underestimate the power of a script poet scorned. At the same time as I was planning my burst onto the poetry stage, I was writing my mystery novel "The Only Shadow In The House," the second book of The Travelling Detective Series. I gave one of my characters the career of a poet and her specialty was Script Poetry. Needless to say the publishers and critics in my fictional world were highly impressed with the poems. The poetry was very popular with the reading public and the poetress won many awards.
     To quote from my book: One critic wrote that her poems have an innovative, revolutionary style that is shaking the foundations of the conventionally staid poetry community, while another critic called them insightful and powerful.
     I have taken one of the script poems from that novel for you to judge for yourself.

Fade In
Act One
Exterior-Farm House-Night.
There is snow on the ground. Stars twinkle in the clear, night sky. A vehicle pulls into the yard and a woman climbs out. She stares at the house then takes a deep breath. She releases it in a vapour. With slow tread she climbs up the steps and enters the darkened house. Inside, she stops and listens.

There is no noise in my house, it is dark and silent.
Today, I buried you. Is this what it is like in your grave,
total quiet, total darkness?
I flip on the light and wander the house
looking at the possessions that
represented a life that never existed,
except in my own mind.
This has been our home for nineteen years
but it now feels alien to me.
Because from now on I know that mine
will be the only shadow in the house.
I must leave here soon.

End Act One
Fade Out

Fade In
Act Two
Interior-Farm House- Night.
All the lights are on in the house. The woman is in the kitchen. She pushes over the shelving holding plant seedlings and pots. She heads to the dining room and goes to a china cabinet with no doors. All the shelves hold figurines and dishes and knick knacks. They crash to the floor with a sweep of her hand. The ones that don’t break, disintegrate under her foot.

“Damn you, Ben. Damned you to hell!” I yell.
I want you to hear. I want you to know
the sorrow and the pain you have brought me.
I go from room to room, expunging.
I spray your shaving cream on the walls.
I dump your aftershave in the tub.
I grab a knife and shred your clothes.
Finally, there is nothing of yours left.
I feel some satisfaction.
You destroyed my life and now I have
destroyed everything that represented yours.
“There you bastard,” I say. “Rot in hell.”

Fade Out
End Act Two

Fade In
Act Three
Interior-Farm House- Night
The woman is standing in front of a picture on the living room wall. The furniture and floor are littered with debris. She takes the picture off the hook and stares at it a long time.

I find our wedding photograph on the wall.
I’d had it enlarged for our tenth anniversary
as my loving gift to you.
Were you as pleased as you said you were
or was that just a sham?
I smash the glass against the corner of the table.
I cut my finger removing the shards.
I look at you smiling back at me.
Were you an impostor in our marriage?
For now I wonder how many other
women did you see over our nineteen years.
I slash the picture with the knife. How symbolic.

End Act Three
Fade Out

The Criminal Streak


West To The Bay


 Gold Fever

The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:

Illegally Dead

The Only Shadow In The House

Whistler's Murder




Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hiking The Chilkoot Trail

I am so happy to say that some of my children and grandchildren will be joining me in hiking the Chilkoot Trail-the trail the Klondikers took to get to the Klondike gold field at Dawson City in the Yukon. My husband and I hiked the trail in 1997, on the hundredth anniversary of the gold rush. We were in the Yukon and Alaska so I could research the state and territory for my travel book Backroads of Alaska and the Yukon.

     Many of the first men and women who went to the Klondike in the first year starved and froze because they hadn't brought along enough supplies. To combat that, the Northwest Mounted Police decreed that the prospectors had to have 907 kg (2000 lbs) of  provisions in order to cross the border from Alaska into British Columbia and then onto the Yukon. The NWMP set up a scale to weigh each person's supplies before letting them climb the Chilkoot Pass.

     My husband and I each carried about 16kg. (35 lbs) on our five day hike up to and over the pass.

     The following is what I wrote in the book about my hike. I imagine there have been many changes in the twenty years since and I am looking forward to making a comparison of the differences between my two hikes. And there have been a few changes with me. I am twenty years older and twenty pounds heavier. I'm looking forward to making a comparison of my abilities and endurance between the two hikes.


    Hiking The Chilkoot

The Chilkoot Trail was called the `poor‑man's route'. It ran from Dyea to Bennett Lake following an old native path. Because of the isolation and cold winters the NWMP decreed that each man had to have at least 907 kilograms (2000 pounds) of supplies before they would allow him to enter the Yukon and continue on his journey.

     The men had to haul those supplies up and over the summit. Some were able to hire natives to help but many had to do it themselves. They would carry as much as they could up the `Golden Stairs' (steps cut into the solid snow of the pass), then slide back down to their cache and begin again. Most made 40 trips to do so. Once a miner got onto the steps he didn't dare get off until the top. If fatigue forced him to step out he seldom managed to make it back on.

     By the spring of 1898, three trams had been built to help haul the loads up the Chilkoot. Also in the spring the people who had made it over the pass during the winter and had camped at Bennett Lake made boats from the trees around the lake. Over 7100 crafts set sail down Bennett Lake beginning the 900 kilometres (560 miles) journey to Dawson City. Records show that about 30,000 people travelled from Bennett Lake to Dawson City in 1898. By the time they got there the best claims had been staked by the prospectors who already lived in the area.

     The trail closed in 1900 when the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway was completed.

     The 53 kilometre (33 mile) long Chilkoot Trail is called the `Longest Museum in the World'. There are 10 campsites along it so when you book your time you will have to decide how many kilometres you wish to hike each day.

     Most of the people who started for the Klondike were Cheechakos, a native word for `greenhorn'. It was after a person had spent a winter in the north that he or she became known as a Sourdough.

     The trail starts out with the Taiya River to your left. You will be continually climbing and descending beside it until you reach Sheep Camp. And until Sheep camp you are walking through a rainforest with tall trees creating a nice, cool shade on hot days.                                                              You will climb over tree roots, stumps and rock and in places there is a drop so make sure your pack is secure and doesn't wobble. You cross a number of bridges, made of metal, split logs, planks or boardwalks. If you are here in June or early July there is two places where you will want to put on your sandals. One is to cross some water over the path and the other is through a mud bog.

     For about 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) you will be going through private land. There are signs up so watch for them. On the private land you will come to the remains of an old vehicle and a building. The trail is as wide as a single lane road for a short distance.

Soon after leaving the private land you reach Finnegan's Point, the first campground on the trail. It is 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the beginning. There is a shelter where you can dry out your clothes if it is raining and cook your meals. Once you have washed your dishes drain the water down the screened in pipe for gray water and scrap any food particles off the screen to be put in your garbage. Make sure you hoist your food and garbage up on the bear pole to keep it from attracting bears into the camp. Never keep any food with you in your tent.

     This point was named after Pat Finnegan and his two sons who set up a ferry service here in 1897. Later they built a road through the damp, boggy areas and charged a toll. This worked only in the summer because the prospectors pulled their goods on sleds on the frozen ice in the winter. This point was also used as a cache where the stampeders left their first bundles of supplies while they went back to Dyea for the rest.

     There is a spot on the Taiya River here for you to relax, take off your boots and soak your feet if you wish.

     4.8 kilometres (3 miles) from Finnegan's Point you come to Canyon City campsite. The shelter here is log and it has a verandah with a table for you to eat outside on a pleasant day.

To reach the actual site of Canyon City, continue down the trail 0.8 kilometre (0.5 mile) past the camp until you reach a sign with the distances to places: Canyon City Shelter 0.5 mile; Dyea 8 miles: Sheep Camp Shelter 5 miles; Chilkoot Pass 8.5 miles.

     Follow the path to the left, cross over the wooden bridge and then the suspension bridge and you will reach a sign that states: Canyon City Historical Site. You are now walking where Canyon City stood over 100 years ago. You will pass an old, rusted, cook stove and come to a huge, rusted boiler. This 50 horsepower steam boiler was used to operate an aerial tramway between here and the Chilkoot Pass. It cost 16.5 cents per kilogram (7.5 cents per pound) to send goods over this tram and not everyone could afford it.

     Stamped on the boiler is: Union Iron Works SF 1886.

     Pleasant Camp is 4.5 kilometres (2.7 miles) from Canyon City. The climb out of the canyon between the two camps was thought to be the worst part of the trail by some stampeders.

A little ways past the camp you cross a suspension bridge over a series of cascades. And in 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) you reach Sheep Camp beside the Taiya River. At this camp, the last stop before the Chilkoot Pass, a ranger gives a talk about the conditions of the pass at 7:00pm Alaska time. Other words of advice are to leave by at least 7am, drink 2 litres of water on the trail and expect to take 10 hours to reach Happy Camp.

     When you leave Sheep Camp the ground is level for the first ways and you come across a building that looks almost like a train station. After you begin climbing there is an old log building with glass windows, little patio and cooking utensils hanging on the wall. You are climbing mainly on a path but sometimes over boulders and you start to come out of the trees and into alpine meadows.

     When crossing the boulders watch for the piles of rocks on them that mark the trail. If you keep your head down and don't watch you could get off the trail and become lost.


SIDEBAR Helpful Hints

You can expect snow, rain, wind, sun, mist and cloud no matter what time of year you hike the trail. When travelling over snow bridges undo the belt on your pack so that if you fall through you can get out of your pack easily. Do not walk close to the boulders sticking out of the snow. The sun heats the rock and the snow beneath the top layer melts leaving an overhang near the boulder. This overhang will collapse if you get too close. Stop near a boulder and listen. You will hear the water gurgling around it.

     When a group is walking through an avalanche area spread out.

     Bring sandals to wear around camp and also to put on when crossing wet areas or streams to keep your boots dry. Have a rope for hanging your food and garbage out of reach of bears. Carry an extra set of clothing in case you get wet or cold. Never wear blue jeans as they will chafe your legs and prevent freedom of movement.

     The bears like to use the trail so if you see one on it get far off into the trees and let him have the right of way.

     Some who have hiked the Chilkoot Trail and climbed the Chilkoot Pass have loved it, while others stated that it was the worst trail they had ever been on. You will have to decide for yourself.



     Up until mid‑July and beginning in September, you could be walking on snow the higher you go. It is a 6.8 kilometre (4.2 mile) climb to the Scales. This is where the prospectors who had hired professional native packers had to reweigh their goods. The packers wanted more money, up to $2.20 per kilogram (1 dollar per pound) to carry the supplies up and over the pass. Consequently, many items were left behind and some still can be seen today.

     From the Scales you can see the Chilkoot Pass down the valley and you cross alpine tundra to reach the base. On the other side of the Chilkoot is Peterson Pass, a longer but easier alternative to the Chilkoot which was used by some Klondikers.

     Those who travelled the trail in the winter climbed the 'Golden Stairs' cut in the ice and snow up the side of the pass. Those who came in the summer, when the snow was melted, had to traverse over the huge boulders and loose rock left from a slide. This is what you will be climbing on.

     The climb is steep and you must lean forward. If you straightened up the weight of your pack could pull you over backwards. Some people go slowly working their way from solid rock to solid rock, while others hike up it like they would stairs.

     Watch for mountain goat either across the valley or beside the slide and for the Rufous hummingbird flitting about. It is attracted to red clothing. If you are not afraid of heights, stop and look down to see how far you have come.

     Near the top you reach a plateau, then you climb a bit more to the top. On the plateau look up to your right and you will see a cairn marking the border between Alaska and BC.

     When you reach the summit you have climbed 823 metres (2700 feet) from Sheep Camp. At the summit is a shelter and outhouse. Stay only long enough to warm up and eat because it is still a 6.4 kilometre (4 mile) hike to Happy Camp and storms can come up suddenly at the top.

     As you hike down the Canadian side of the summit you have the most magnificent view of Crater Lake, alpine tundra and mountains. The wind blows almost constantly here and there are a lot of streams to cross. Some have rocks to hop on while at others you just have to look for the shallowest spot. Again, depending on the time of year you could be walking on snow in places.

     Watch for the short colorful flowers‑‑purple, white, red, yellow, pink‑‑and the grasses of the alpine tundra. Don't walk on the tundra; it is not easy for the flowers and grass to grow here.

At Stone Crib there is a pile of rocks that anchored the cables for an aerial tramway on this side of the summit. Here also is a large saw blade from a sawmill that someone decided he didn't need any more.

     If it was cloudy on the Alaska side of the summit look back as you are walking and you will see the gray cloud hanging over the summit as if it was stuck there. It doesn't get any closer but sometimes mist rolls this way from the summit.

     Happy Camp is on a river between Crater Lake and Long Lake. The food cache here is inside a section of the shelter. For a short distance after Happy Camp you will be walking on loose gravel. When you reach a sign pointing for Deep Lake turn in that direction. You will climb and soon be up above Long Lake. There were ferries on Crater, Long and Deep lakes for those who could afford the price.

     You hike up and down hills then suddenly you'll come over a rise and see a lovely lake, a bridge over a river, trees, and a camp in the centre of the mountains. You cross that bridge and reach Deep Lake Camp. A wagon road ran from here to Lindeman City and you can see some old sleigh runners.

     When you leave Deep Lake Camp as you walk beside the lakeshore watch for a metal boat frame. After you leave the lakeshore you follow along Deep Lake Gorge.

     The further you go the more trees there are. It is very beautiful and peaceful in here as you walk through the tall pine trees and reach Lake Lindeman Camp (4.8 kilometres (3 miles) from Deep Lake Camp. There are two campgrounds‑one close to the lake and one further away. You might want to take the one further away because the wind coming off the lake can be strong and cool.

     The Klondikers set up a tent city here and some built boats during the winter for sailing across Lake Lindeman. At the other end they portaged around the rapids between Lindeman and Bennett lakes. Others carried their supplies along Lindeman Lake and built their boats at Bennett Lake.

     Do not disturb the historic sites at Lindeman and plan to visit the tent museum near the river. As you are leaving Lindeman Camp, there is a small, roof‑covered panel with a drawer. Inside the drawer is a book for you to record your name, the date, the number in your party, the number of tents and where you are going from here. This is so the wardens can keep track of who has passed through in case of an emergency.

     Watch for the Rufous hummingbird along this part of the trail. If you are wearing red, one might come and hover over you then dart off to sit in a tree. Keep your camera handy.

     If you like the haunting call of the loon plan to stay at Bear Loon Camp 5.1 kilometres (3 mile) from Lindeman Lake Camp. Shortly after Bear Loon is the cut‑off to the tracks of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. Many hikers only go this far along the trail and hike along the tracks to Log Cabin. Although this is a popular way of getting off the trail, the railroad warns that you should not walk on or beside their tracks. If you do decide to walk to Log Cabin find out the schedule of the train. And even if there is no train scheduled, watch for speeders carrying the maintenance crews.

     Bennett Lake campground is 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) from Bare Loon. This was where the two long, tired columns of Klondikers met and spent the winter. And an instant tent town was established. In the spring the stampeders built boats for the sail across the lake and down the Yukon. Bennett grew after the railway reached it from Skagway in 1899 and it had warehouses, shipping offices and steamer docks.

     The St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built in 1898 by volunteer workers and it is the only gold rush building still standing in Bennett. There is also a train station here.


SIDEBAR  907 Kilograms (2000 Pounds)

     There was a list of items, deemed necessary by the NWMP, that the Klondiker needed before being allowed into Canada to continue his journey to the gold rush. Depending on what you read the lists vary as does the amount of each food item. The following is an inventory without the weights.

     Clothing: flannel over shirts, pants, sweater, stockings, wool socks, underwear, overalls, mitts, leather gloves, coats, vest, mackinaw, moccasins, rubber boots, high land boots and stiff brim cowboy hat.

     Sleeping accommodations: sleeping bag, wool blankets, waterproof blanket, rubber sheet and tent.

     Food: beans or split peas, flour, bacon, rolled oats, butter, rice, sugar, cornmeal, condensed milk, coffee, tea, salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, yeast cakes, mustard, vinegar, beef extract, ground ginger, hard tack, Jamaica ginger, citric acid and evaporated peaches, apricots, apples, onions and potatoes.

     Cooking Utensils: coffee pot, pie plate (for eating off, not for baking), cutlery including large spoon, fry pan, cup, saucepan, pail and sheet iron stove.

     Toiletries: wash basin, soap, towels, toothbrush, medicine chest, handkerchiefs, mirror and comb.

     Panning Equipment: pick and extra handle, shovel and gold pan.

     Building Equipment: axe and extra handle, axe stone, nails, pitch, chisel, tape measure, rope, single block, rivets, saws, plane, files and hatchet.

     Miscellaneous: canvas sacks, matches, buttons, needles, thread, pack straps, knife, compass, candles, candlewick, dunnage bag and mosquito netting.



Making Arrangements

The Canadian government has a policy of limiting the number of people to cross the border into Canada via the Chilkoot Trail to 50. This was done to preserve the fragile tundra on the Canadian side. When you register you will be charged a reservation fee and be told where you can pick up and pay for your back country permits which you will need before starting the trail.

There are many options for getting to the trailhead and getting back to your vehicle once you have completed your trek.

1. You can leave your vehicle at the Dyea campground and at the end of the trail take the charter boat across Bennett Lake to Carcross. From there you can catch the highway bus to Skagway and take the shuttle bus back to Dyea campground.

2. You can leave your vehicle at the Dyea campground, make your hike and then follow the railway tracks out to Log Cabin where the shuttle bus will take you back to your vehicle at the campground.

3. You can leave your vehicle at Log Cabin and ride the shuttle bus to the Dyea campground. When you hike out to Log Cabin, your vehicle is waiting for you. (Remember that hiking the tracks is not recommended by the railway.)

4. A fourth option is to find out when the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway train is making a scheduled trip to Bennett Lake and arrange your hike so that you will be at Bennett Lake when the train arrives.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Some Alberta History

I began my writing career as a travel writer and I drove and camped through all of British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska, writing about what there was to see and do in those provinces, and the territory and state. I learned a lot of history, saw a lot of beautiful scenery, and met a lot of wonderful people.

The following is about Fort Macleod, along the Crowsnest Highway, from my travel book the Backroads of Southern Alberta. Fort Macleod, coincidently, is the setting for the novel, Illegally Dead, the first book of my Travelling Detective Series boxed set.

After the Hudson's Bay Company sold Rupert's Land to the Canadian Government in 1869, fur traders from Fort Benton in Montana travelled north into present day Alberta and set up illegally trading posts called Whiskey Forts. They brought wagon loads of whiskey and guns to trade for furs with the natives. The watered down whiskey, laced with any or all of Tabasco, red pepper, tobacco, ginger, molasses, tea, sulphuric acid and ink, drove the natives wild and they brutalized and killed their own tribesmen, other bands, and some whitemen. Sir John A Macdonald, prime minister of Canada at the time declared that the area should be safe for settlers moving west and he formed the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873. The next year they marched west and established Fort Macleod, which is southern Alberta's oldest settlement.

The downtown district, on 24th Street between Second and Third Avenues, was declared Alberta's first provincial historical site on May 14, 1984. There are many wood frame buildings that date back to 1890s and some brick and sandstone ones from the early 1900s.
The Empress Theatre opened in 1912 and was used for vaudeville acts, minstrel shows, silent films, political rallies and talking films. It has been renovated, but the original pressed metal ceiling, double seats in every second row, and the old radiators remain. The Empress Theatre Society presents movies or live performances during the summer.
The present-day Fort Macleod is a reproduction, but some of the log buildings inside the Fort Museum are original and house numerous historical native and North West Mounted Police-Royal Canadian Mounted Police artifacts. A Musical Ride is staged four times a day during July and August. Young men and women dressed in replica North West Mounted Police uniforms present an exhibition of horsemanship and precision, similar to the world famous Musical Ride.

Harry `Kanouse' Taylor, a former whiskey fort owner, set up a hotel in Fort Macleod after the arrival of the NWMP-the original name of the RCMP. Due to the changing times and transient population, there had to be certain rules in his hotel. They were:
1. Guests will be provided with breakfast and dinner,
but must rustle their own lunch.
2. Spiked boots and spurs must be removed at night
before retiring.
3. Dogs are not allowed in bunks, but may sleep
4. Towels are changed weekly; insect powder is for sale
at the bar.
5. Special rates for Gospel Grinders and the gambling
6. The bar will be open day and night. Every known fluid,
except water, for sale. No mixed drinks will be served
except in case of a death in the family. Only
registered guests allowed the privileges of sleeping
on the bar room floor.
7. No kicking regarding the food. Those who do not like
the provender will be put out. When guests find
themselves or their baggage thrown over the fence,
they may consider they have received notice to leave.
8. Baths furnished free down at the river, but bathers
must provide their own soap and towels.
9. Valuables will not be locked in the hotel safe, as
the hotel possesses no such ornament.
10. Guests are expected to rise at 6:00 a.m., as the
sheets are needed for tablecloths.
11. To attract the attention of waiters, shoot through
the door panel. Two shots for ice water, three for
a new deck of cards.
No Jawbone. In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash.

The Criminal Streak


West To The Bay


 Gold Fever

The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:

Illegally Dead

The Only Shadow In The House

Whistler's Murder