Dawson City Telegraph Office
Dawson City Telegraph Office
Principal values lie in the architect and the architecture. The Klondike Gold Rush was an international event that created the Yukon as a distinct territory of Canada. Tens of thousands of men and women, mostly from the United States, travelled north to strike it rich. Federal bureaucrats joined the North West Mounted Police in the Yukon to maintain order, collect taxes, and to ensure Canadian sovereignty. One of these government officials was Thomas W. Fuller, of the Architects Branch of the Department of Public Works in Ottawa. His father, Thomas Fuller, was Chief Architect for the Dominion of Canada from 1867 to 1896. Prior to this, his company designed the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in 1859. T.W. Fuller continued with the Architects Branch after he left Dawson City and became Chief Architect from 1927 to 1933.
Fuller was given the task of designing and overseeing the construction of six public buildings in Dawson City - the Commissioners Residence, Courthouse, Public School, Post Office, Territorial Administration Building and the Telegraph Office. Fuller apprenticed with the Telegraph Office; the first project in which he had full responsibility for design and construction. It was also his first experience dealing with permafrost, sub-zero temperatures, and the difficulty of obtaining building materials and furnishings. He designed his five most prominent buildings in the Neoclassical Revival style, similar to many other federal buildings of that period in Canada, and this style is also referenced in a smaller scale Telegraph Office. Classical forms such as the central axis of design, the symmetry of the primary facade, a large expanse of walls, and the use of columns near the main entrance are common to these buildings.
The Telegraph Office was the first and only architecturally designed telegraph office in the Yukon. Constructed in 1899, this building illustrates the presence of the Canadian government in the north and its confidence in the continuing prosperity of Dawson City.
The Telegraph Office represents a major communications system connecting Yukon to the south and the extraordinary development of the historic 2700 km Dawson-Ashcroft Telegraph Line; an effort that is recognized as nationally significant.
After its time serving as a public building, the Telegraph Office was moved to a new location in 1908 and continued as an upper-scale family residence for nearly 75 years of continuous occupancy. The lawn and birch plantings along the front elevation lend to its presence on the street while providing some privacy and separation, and add a maturity and permanence to the neighbourhood. The building and landscaping contribute to the quiet and sheltered ambiance of this residential area on Seventh Ave.