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North West Mounted Police Jail

Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/04/14

View of the main entrance to the N.W.M.P. Jail, showing the log construction of peeled local spruce logs, sawn on three sides and lapped at the corners, 1987.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1987.
General view
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Other Name(s)

North West Mounted Police Jail
Former N.W.M.P. Hospital and Jail
Ancien hôpital et prison de la P.C.N.-O.

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/08/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) Jail, also known as the former N.W.M.P. Hospital and Jail is located on a rectangular block of land on what was the site of Fort Herchmer in Dawson City. A cross-shaped log building with gable and shed roofs, it has regular door and window openings. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The N.W.M.P. Jail is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The N.W.M.P. Jail is one of the best examples of a building closely associated with the North West Mounted Police, and their role in the rapid, early development of Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. Originally constructed as a hospital, it subsequently served as a jail. The structure is associated with health care, the establishment of law and order, and the exercise of Canadian sovereignty in the northern territories. It is also one of Canada’s only remaining N.W.M.P. buildings from this period.

Architectural Value:
The N.W.M.P. Jail is valued for its good, simple aesthetic. An early adaptation of a building designed for sub-arctic frontier conditions the building exhibits good functional design as seen in its exterior walls of peeled logs with corner laps. Hurriedly constructed using green wood, and with rudimentary foundations, the structure retained its makeshift, functional character despite numerous improvements.

Environmental Value:
The N.W.M.P. Jail reinforces the character and previous role of the government reserve area taken in association with the surviving structures of Fort Herchmer. It is a familiar landmark to residents and visitors.

Sources: Brian Dewalt, Former NWMP Hospital /Jail, Government Reserve, Site 4, Parcel U4, Dawson City, Yukon, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 87-068; NWMP Hospital/Jail, Dawson, Yukon Territory, Heritage Character Statement 87-068.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the N.W.M.P. Jail should be respected.

Its good aesthetic and functional design as evidenced in:
-the simple, functional form of the structure and its cross-shaped massing;
-the north, south and west arms of the cross with gable roofs, the east arm with its shed roof;
-the timber trusses on the interior of the roof;
-the log construction of peeled local spruce logs, sawn on three sides and lapped at the corners.

The manner in which the N.W.M.P. Jail reinforces the Fort Herchmer complex setting and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
-its overall design and materials that harmonize with the surroundings and the fort setting;
-its role as an important component of the group of four surviving structures from the Fort Herchmer complex that makes it familiar to locals and visitors.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Correctional Facility
Health and Research
Hospital or Other Health Care Institution

Architect / Designer

Department of Public Works



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




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