Our first week working on Dawson Lodge has been... engaging (thats the positive adjective we settled on). There is a lot to do and we have set ourselves some ambitious timelines to have the rooms ready for occupancy. But then who doesn't need a little ambition in their life? Maybe it's the thing that stops us from stagnation, keeps things interesting and ensures we move ever forwards in pursuit of the endgame (Not a Marvel Avengers reference - or at least not intentionally). Despite the hard work so far, we know harder work is yet to come, we are just at the start of this adventure. But with this fun little team we can already see great things happening.
We are embracing the Dawson summer work ethos... I'm talking many jobs and little sleep, not the Dawson-itis (characterised by excessive party-ing) many people warned me I might get if I lived here too long. Riley, already doing 50 hours in 4 days on the construction with his company Grey Customs Inc, shows no signs of letting up. Lee is splitting his time between our local Emergency Medical Services team as an ambulance responder and working about 30 hours for Carpenter Oak Ltd in the UK. He is also playing a part as a general labourer and putting in about 30 hours more in the business management for Yukon Spaces. Then there's me... who is really just trying to keep Lee and Riley on track, make sure they eat, sleep and have some merriment to keep their sanity going, doing some business administration, writing these terribly interesting blog posts (be honest, I'm no writer), and working my full time nursing job... and shopping, but that's not really work now is it? I also had my first taste as a general labourer, while I'm a bit weak and feeble in the muscles department, turn put I'm pretty quick at running things backwards and forwards. And it's done great things for step count!!
In the past 4 days, we have launched into a full-on social media assault. Never being that interested with or good at using social media, I've had a steep learning curve. Riley is our social media expert and is a prolific poster but as he focuses his attention on the renovation, I'm trying to pick up some of the slack with the slightly more formal stuff. We decided early on that it was important to share our journey with our community. Sure, there is a PR and marketing aspect, no-one can deny that, but it's much more about engaging with our community, the people we are here to serve. We wanted to build a relationship that brought business and the population together. Yes, this all sounds a little hippy dippy, no apologies for that, but we have some grand ideas that will give community members some cool opportunities and really generate a synergy, the kind seen with other service providers in town due to the respectful way business is often conducted here, more so than almost anywhere else we've visited. The only thing we've seen close is the Transition Town concept (look at Transition Town Totnes and you'll see a flavour of the kind of ideals we are trying to replicate, many of which already exist here). People have been incredibly supportive with the Dawson Lodge project so far, asking questions; seeking us out, stopping us on the streets, in shops, cafes, bars. It's been kind of overwhelming how much buzz there has been for our little building renovation and the kind words and well wishes are giving us some real momentum.
So what has been achieved this week? The demolition (maybe too strong a word but we are ripping walls off so I think it counts) has started and is moving at pace. In an attempt to try to conserve everything that we can to avoid sending waste to landfill:
We have been packaging up bed linens and curtains.
We have been assessing the mattresses, beds, TV's (They aren't anything close to fancy flat screens but hopefully someone can find a use for some of them) and other furniture to see what can be salvaged, repurposed, recycled, sold or donated. We have decided to refer to some of the furniture as "shabby sheek" that will be beautiful in someone else's home!
Removing walls and interior wall coverings to assess the structure of the building and identify remedial actions to bring it up to modern code requirements and to try to exceed the green standards.
Making endless lists of the materials we need to be able to fix all the destruction we are doing ready for our shopping trip to the big city next week.
Pumping out the lake that sits around the building right now to give everything a chance to dry out before we fix up the foundations, raise and level everything (at which point no door will close ever again).
We've also uncovered some cool features of the building that we really weren't expecting:
We had commented a couple of times how the internal temperature of the building over winter didn't seem to change at all, and even on Monday when we broke in (because we didn't have the keys yet but figured it wasn't breaking and entering anymore seeing as how it was ours now) it was 20c outside and still about 0c inside. When we opened up a wall we discovered we had a log cabin with internal and external cladding instead of the framed building we had expected. No-one is saying its a pretty log cabin (certainly not one that will ever be exposed inside or outside) but it gives us some new considerations about how we ensure energy efficiency for the building and maintain a good air seal.
A clear attic space with easy access and lots of room for the building utilities to be concealed.
Something that really blew us away this week is how one persons unwanted items are another persons highly desirables. Those shabby sheek items I mentioned earlier... the mirrors were sold almost before they were put up for sale just because someone knew about them and spread some gossip that we might get rid of them. Word gets around. All the bed linen and curtains had sold within a few hours of being posted on facebook. People were asking if we would sell them other things that happened to be in shot of bed linen photos. It prompted a yard sale as we realised how much use people could make of the things we didn't have use for. The population of Dawson City are amazing at the whole reuse/restore concept. It's pretty inspiring!
Our other big news this week is that we kind of made big news. We've been interviewed 3 times, twice for the local newspapers and once on radio (if anyone wants to hear me stutter and stumble over some pretty basic words, this is good for a laugh https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-200-a-new-day/clip/15704609-more-hotel-rooms-planned-for-dawson-city). Maybe big news is an exaggeration. You're not going to see us on the cover of the Wall Street Journal or appearing on Network TV news but local CBC radio and newspapers are a big deal for us.
The last thing that has made us smile this week is some of the interesting stuff we've found in weird places in the rooms as we strip them bare. Someone placed a charm bracelet behind a mirror, we are still speculating on the reason this might have been, we have some interesting hypotheses. Some icicle light clips were beneath a bed, again, we're trying to decide on the most fun story to accompany the find. And we found an odour proof baggy with what we have assumed is tobacco behind a fitted cabinet. It's been there so long we decided not to open it but its the wrong colour to be anything terribly interesting.
So, that's our first few days. Lots achieved, lots to do. But with a community around us who are so inspiring in their warm wishes and so keen to see progress, we are excited to be working hard to realise the dream of Dawson Lodge.