Yukon Register of Historic PlacesYRHP

Gindèhchik–Rampart House

Construction Period: Pre 1895

Designation Level: Territorial

in Rampart House

Rampart House is a significant historic site recognized in the Vuntut Gwitchin Final Agreement. It is located in the northern Yukon on the north bank of the Porcupine River at the International Boundary with Alaska at the 141st degree latitude. Rampart House contains built, archaeological and landscape features from various eras of occupation.

Construction Period: Pre 1895        Designation Level: Territorial

Rampart House has been in continuous use for thousands of years and is an important location within the Gwich’in cultural landscape. It is significant as one of the earliest places in the Yukon where the Gwich’in met and interacted with fur traders, missionaries, police and government officials within their traditional territory. The site is important to the development of the region, demonstrating ongoing Gwich’in presence and influence in the north, 19th century expansion of the fur trade, development of the Anglican Church in Yukon, the establishment of the US-Canada border, and the ongoing relationships between newcomer communities and Indigenous peoples within the territory.

Rampart House is the best-preserved example of a peripheral fur trading post from the early 20th century in the Yukon and the most complete record of a town establishing itself around such a post. Both associated with the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) (1889-1893), and independent trader Dan Cadzow (1904-1928), many Gwich’in families built cabins at Rampart House, occupying the site seasonally. The collection of Gwich’in homes in Rampart House are representative of a common vernacular construction found throughout the Yukon with many of them employing horizontal log construction with saddle notched corners. Many of these cabins are associated with specific families who still live in the area including the Moses, Linklater, Kassi and Njootli families, among many others.

Cadzow reused the HBC buildings and later built his own. The Cadzow buildings and the church are significant in their technology due to their modified Hudson’s Bay Frame (piece sur piece) construction. While Hudson’s Bay Frames are common in western Canada the modification to the examples at Rampart House makes them rare in the broader Canadian context, and unique in the Traditional Territory of the Van Tat Gwich’in- the only other example being that of St. Luke’s church in Old Crow. The ruined police post, the last of the original 19th Century HBC buildings, demonstrates the evolution of the Hudson Bay Frame at the site, showing the older design found throughout the West, in contrast to the modified design of the newer buildings.

The Anglican Church (1918) and Rectory (1919) at Rampart House are among the oldest extant Christian buildings within the northern Yukon, and an important illustration of the development of the Anglican Church in Northern Yukon, particularly the amalgamation of Anglican religion and Gwich’in spirituality.

Rampart House is associated with the Turner expedition (1888), the international border survey (1911-12) and the international politics which determined the western boundary of Canada and the Yukon Territory. Following the purchase of Alaska by the United States, the HBC moved up the Porcupine River to be within Canadian territory and founded Rampart House at its present location after J Henry Turner surveyed 141st parallel in 1888. Continued boundary disputes resulted in joint US-Canadian teams surveying the entire border north to the Arctic Ocean by 1913. In 1911 the survey crew was based at Rampart House and led to increased contact between Gwich’in and government officials. Tensions arose with Gwich’in when their belongings and homes were destroyed, and a quarantine enforced over a mis-diagnosis of smallpox. The arrival of RNWMP in 1914 hardened the border through the enforcement of tariffs and regulations, effectively separating Gwich’in from family and lands west of the 141st parallel. These actions contributed to the slow decline of Rampart House as Gwich’in relocated to other communities such as Old Crow.

Through the establishment and decline of the trading post and associated Gwich’in village, Rampart House illustrates the unique development patterns in northern Yukon, influenced by the evolution of the fur trade, merging of spiritual beliefs, enforcement of Canadian sovereignty and especially the adaptation and resilience of the Gwich’in people to social and cultural change seen in the Van Tat Gwich’in’s continued use of Rampart House and the surrounding land.