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Courthouse

Front Street, Dawson, Yukon, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/04/14

General view of the Courthouse, showing the recessed central entrance block flanked by projecting bays with monumental pediments, 2002.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2002.
General view
Corner view of the Courthouse in the Dawson Historical Complex, 1995.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1995.
Corner view
Detailed view of the Courthouse, showing the large square cupola, 1996.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1996.
Detailed view

Other Name(s)

Courthouse
Former Courthouse
Ancien palais de justice
Former Territorial Court House National Historic Site of Canada
Lieu historique national du Canada de l'Ancien-Palais-de-Justice-Territorial

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1900/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Courthouse, also known as the Former Courthouse, is located in Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada. The two-storey building is of small but imposing classical design executed in wood. It is composed of a recessed central entrance block flanked by projecting bays with monumental pediments, and is capped by a hipped roof with a large cupola. The overall formality and strength of the Courthouse is emphasized by its paired windows and detailing, such as the mouldings, turned balustrades and columns with ionic capitals. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Courthouse is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
Built between 1900 and 1901, the Courthouse is closely associated with the establishment of a federal presence in the Northwest and the exercise of Canadian sovereignty. The Courthouse is one of two remaining examples of early territorial courthouses in Western Canada built by the federal government to oversee judicial matters in the undeveloped parts of Ontario, Quebec and the North West Territories. It is also associated with the Klondike Gold Rush in Dawson.

Architectural Value
Valued for its very good aesthetics and its good functional design, the Courthouse is an excellent and rare example of a turn-of-the-century courthouse executed in wood. It is also one of the best examples of the work of architect Thomas Fuller prior to his becoming Chief Architect of the Department of Public Works. Of modest but imposing classical design, the exterior of the building shows careful attention to composition and proportion. Excellent craftsmanship and materials are evident throughout the building.

Environmental Value
The Courthouse reinforces the present character of its streetscape setting in Dawson Historical Complex and is a familiar landmark to residents and visitors.

Sources: Joan Mattie, Former Courthouse, Dawson City Historical Complex, Dawson City, Yukon, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 87-063; Former Courthouse, Dawson City Historical Complex, Dawson City, Yukon, Heritage Character Statement, 87-063.

Character-Defining Elements

The character defining elements of the Former Territorial Courthouse should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic design, good functional design and excellent materials and craftsmanship, as evidenced by:
- its formal, classically inspired design and detailing, including the recessed central entrance block flanked by projecting bays with monumental pediments
- its hipped roof, capped by a large square cupola which reinforces the building's symmetry;
- the north addition, which, while it creates an imbalance in the façade, is compatible and discrete;
- the secondary elements and details, such as the columns with ionic capitals, mouldings, paired windows, and turned balustrades; which contribute to the overall formality and strength of the design;
- the original interior features including the varnished fir concealed behind more recent finishes and the panelled newel posts in the formerly open staircase;

The manner in which the Courthouse reinforces the present character of its setting in Dawson Historical Complex and is a familiar landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
- its excellent craftsmanship, which harmonizes with the architectural style of the adjacent buildings in the complex, including the former Administration building, Post Office and the Commissioner’s Residence.
- its familiarity to the residents of Dawson and to visitors of the Dawson Historical Complex.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date

1988/04/14

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Government
Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

Thomas 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

3028

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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