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Old Territorial Administration Building National Historic Site of Canada

595 Fifth Avenue, Dawson, Yukon, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2001/06/15

Corner view of the Old Territorial Administration Building National Historic Site of Canada, showing monumental presence and dominant profile of the building with its long, rectangular massing, 2000.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada 2000
Corner view of the building.
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Other Name(s)

Old Territorial Administration Building
Ancien-Édifice-Administratif-du-Territoire
Dawson City Museum
Dawson City Museum
The Former Territorial Administration Building
The Former Territorial Administration Building
Ancien édifice administratif du Territoire
Old Territorial Administration Building National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1899/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/02/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Territorial Administration Building National Historic Site of Canada is located in Dawson, in the Yukon Territory. The two-and-a-half storey building, set on landscaped grounds, is the largest of the buildings in the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada dating from the late 19th and early 20th-century Klondike Gold Rush. Constructed in the neoclassical style, the building features an impressive front façade organized around a raised, pedimented entrance flanked by double ionic columns. Official recognition refers to the building and its grounds, excluding lot and buildings to the southeast of the Administration Building.

Heritage Value

The Old Territorial Administration Building was designated as a national historic site of Canada in 2001 because:
- it symbolizes the establishment of the first substantial, ongoing linkage between the territories north of sixty and southern Canadian society;
- it represents the federal government’s commitment to the administration of this north-western part of Canada;
- it is an excellent example of the buildings produced under the federal Public Works building program at the turn of the 20th century.

The heritage value of the Old Territorial Administration Building lies in its associations with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, and the subsequent growth of the northern territories and the rest of Canada. The imposing architectural design of the building in the remote location of Dawson was a clear physical statement of the Canadian government’s determination to fulfill its administrative role, while asserting sovereignty of the territory contiguous with the American state of Alaska.

Designed by the Department of Public Works architect Thomas W. Fuller in 1899, the building was constructed in 1901 as the legislative and administrative headquarters of the new Yukon Territory. As Dawson’s population declined with the end of the gold rush, the government centralized its territorial and federal services into the Administration Building. It became the sole government building still active, and remained the centre of the federal and territorial government in the Yukon until 1953, when the capital was moved to Whitehorse.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2001.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location within the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada, in the Yukon;
- its orientation, set back from the street behind a green space;
- the monumental presence and dominant profile of the building with its long, rectangular two-and-a-half-storey massing under a metal hipped roof;
- its neoclassical inspired design with a symmetrical, organized façade, and slightly projecting pedimented central and flanking pavilions;
- the formality of its neoclassical decorative features such as the double Ionic columns flanking the main entrance, fluted pilasters, carved scroll work over windows and within the pediments, dentils along the cornice;
- its wood-frame construction and in particular evidence of its specific adaptation to northern conditions such as its platform frame foundation and insulated double shell wall construction;
- its relatively lightweight construction materials such as wood, tar paper, pressed metal and the surviving original exterior cove siding;
- the surviving major public spaces in their original axial configuration, materials and workmanship, including the central lobby and split staircase, and the Council Chamber, later a court room, and the materials, textures, workmanship and location of original interior finishes;
- the presence of supporting outbuildings to the rear;
- the formal treatment of the grounds to the north and west sides of the building with a wide walkway from the street to the main entry,
- the materials, scale and location of the boardwalk leading to its main entrance;
- the rectangular footprint of the formal Victory Garden to the north of the building with its Victorian, geometric layout of diagonally configured paths sub-dividing the space into triangular quadrants radiating from a central planting bed containing the cenotaph;
- surviving original botanical species in their types and locations;
- viewscapes from Fifth Avenue towards the building and the three-quarters view from the Victory Garden to the building.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

2001/06/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1953/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Government
Legislative Building

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, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1963

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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