1992 Yukon Nuggets
The Prospector Statue
Welcome to the Yukon - Canada games participants. Hope you enjoy your stay and take in the sights when you are not swept up in the search for ulus.
There's a lot to see in my hometown, so maybe you'll need to come back in the spring or summer. Ah summer, when the prospectors head for the hills, hoping against hope that another Vangorda Creek or even an Eldorado might magically appear and help put their names in the prospectors honour role of lucky hunches.
But right now, if you want to see a larger-than-life prospector who represents all the men and women who have trudged the trails in search of a motherlode, you have only to walk down Main Street, where there stands a bronze figure at the corner of Third Avenue.
He is decently dressed, this marvellous facsimile of the McCoy. With high-top boots, a feather in his hat, a poke of gold hanging at the hip, he looks ready to take the mineral world by storm. His faithful malemute looks quite convincing, too.
The project to bring the prospector sculpture to life took four years from concept to construction, beginning in 1988, and would not have happened had it not been for Chuck Buchanan and Bruce Patnode.
In 1986, Patnode was president of the Yukon Prospectors' Association and served seven years as a director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. He and Buchanan, founder of the Yukon Museum of Natural History and Frontierland Theme Park near Carcross, had ideas. The larger-than-life bronze goldseeker statue was the most ambitious.
As project co-ordinator, Patnode called the project "a good idea", but at one point, the project was destined to die on the drafting table. Patnode pressed on. Only he knows how he managed to pull the money together and find such a prominent place for the landmark in record time.
First, with a miniature clay prospector-dog model, known as maquette, Patnode promoted the "good idea" while circulating among the delegates attending the Geoscience Forum at the Westmark Hotel in November, 1991.
Once they accepted the plan and a cost-sharing agreement was set up with federal and territorial governments, Buchanan started the clay work in June 1992. They then sent the casting to a Montana foundry for bronzing, and shipping back to Whitehorse in record time and on schedule.
It was just then months from the day Buchanan cast the miniature image until the three-metre-tall prospector and his malamute companion magically appeared for the unveiling as part of the Mines Ministers' Conference in Whitehorse in September 1992.
When the conference delegates began their morning meetings, there was no sign of a statue. By lunch time, it was bolted down and covered with plastic. The area was clean and the heavy equipment gone. The prospector and his dog were unveiled to thunderous applause.
Attached to the base of the sculpture is an Honour Roll that pays tribute to individuals, companies and organizations who have walked the prospector's rocky road to fame.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.