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Former Territorial Court House National Historic Site of Canada

Corner of Front and Turner Streets, Dawson, Yukon, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/01/15

Front facade of the Former Territorial Court House showing its its symmetrically organized multi-bay façade with a central entry, slightly projecting pedimented flanking pavilions, and the second-storey balcony with columns and balustrade, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, W. Lynch, 1995.
Facade
General view of the Former Territorial Court House, showing its wood-frame construction adapted to cope with permafrost and fine finishing details, all evocative of high standards of craftsmanship, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, W. Lynch, 1995.
General view
Corner view of the Former Territorial Court House emphasizing the monumental presence and dominant profile of the building with its long, rectangular two-and-a-half-storey massing under a metal hipped roof topped with a lantern, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, W. Lynch, 1995.
Corner View

Other Name(s)

Former Territorial Court House National Historic Site of Canada
Former Territorial Court House
Ancien Palais de Justice Territorial

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1900/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/18

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Former Territorial Court House National Historic Site of Canada is a handsome, two-storey wood-frame building designed in a classical style, on a prominent setting within the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada in Dawson, Yukon Territory. The building is distinguished by its imposing scale, regularly arranged two-over-two sash windows, and its metal hipped roof topped with a lantern. The building is now maintained by Parks Canada and serves as an important landmark on the streetscape. The designation refers to the building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The Former Territorial Court House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1980 because:
- it is representative of the judicial institution in Yukon Territory;
- this substantial frame building conveys an air of dignity and stability within the community.

Its heritage value resides in it identity as a symbol of the Canadian legal system as illustrated by its formal and functional design.

Purpose built to replace the original, inadequately sized log courthouse, the Former Territorial Court House was designed with two court chambers in order to accommodate the large volume of court business. The building of such an impressive structure in the remote location of Dawson was a clear physical statement of the Canadian government’s determination to establish and maintain a stable environment for the Dawson community. Designed by Department of Public Works architect, Thomas Fuller, the former court house was built from 1900 to 1901. When the court was relocated in 1910, the building was taken over by the North West Mounted Police who re-allocated interior spaces for their own uses. In 1954, the Sisters of St Anne took it over for use as a hospital. They carried out further interior alterations and added a new wing, but maintained the integrity of the original exterior elevations. Today, the building is maintained by Parks Canada as part of the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1980.

Character-Defining Elements

Aspects of this site that contribute to its heritage value include:
- the building’s orientation and prominent location within the townsite;
- the monumental presence and dominant profile of the building with its long, rectangular two-and-a-half-storey massing under a metal hipped roof topped with a lantern;
- its classically inspired design with its symmetrically organized multi-bay façade with a central entry, slightly projecting pedimented flanking pavilions, and details such as the second-storey balcony over the entrance with columns and balustrade;
- its wood-frame construction adapted to cope with permafrost and fine finishing details, all evocative of high standards of craftsmanship;
- the surviving major public spaces in their original axial configuration, materials, and workmanship relating to the building’s original function as a court house;
- the viewscapes and relationship between the building and other historic buildings comprising the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1981/01/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1910/01/01
1914/01/01 to 1950/01/01
1954/01/01 to 1967/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Government
Town or City Hall

Architect / Designer

Thomas W. Fuller

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

10630

Status

Published

Related Places

General view of the place

Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada

The Dawson Historical complex comprises the core of Dawson City, Yukon, a town established during the Klondike Gold Rush on a flat of land at the confluence of the Yukon and…

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