Minto Park is designated as a municipal historic site for its social, historic and aesthetic values. Designed to complement the neoclassical architecture of the OTAB, the legislative and administrative headquarters of the Yukon Territory from 1902 until 1953, Minto Park is Yukon’s first formal park and a landmark within the community. Established in 1904, Minto Park was named after the first Governor General that visited the Yukon, Governor General Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, the 4th Earl of Minto.
The formal landscape and expansive green space contribute to the heritage character of the OTAB, emphasizing its stature and architecture within the community. The designed green space surrounding the OTAB is typical of the federal government properties constructed during the early twentieth century within the Government Reserve.
Minto Park was developed in cooperation with the Dawson Horticultural Society to provide a formal green space and recreation area that showcased a strong federal presence. Beginning in 1903, the drainage, leveling and landscaping of the area around the OTAB along with the construction of a grandstand, ball park and tennis courts helped reinforce the site not only as the administrative centre of the territory, but also as the social and recreational focal point of the community.
Since its inauguration, the park has been the town’s venue for athletic games, military drills, community celebrations and events, and represents an important aspect of the community’s history. One of the few formal green spaces in Dawson, Minto Park contributes to the heritage character of the Government Reserve area and continues to play an important role within the community.
In 1910, a central flower bed was installed in the park north of the OTAB that was replaced by a granite cenotaph in 1924 to honour Yukon soldiers who fought in the First World War. Thereafter this area was known as ‘Victory Garden’. A community initiative reconstructed the Victory Garden and lawn in 1992 using a period landscape plan. The garden was compressed into the western half of its former space and the geometric design with paths, central flower bed and lawn bordered by alternating poplar and spruce trees along Fifth Avenue and Church Street were restored. The cenotaph remains in its original location in what was once the center of Victory Garden and is flanked by two field guns that were installed in 1924 as part of the memorial. The Victory Garden and Cenotaph provide a tangible link to the sacrifices Canadians made in the First and Second World Wars.
Minto Park has been recognized for its heritage and social value by the City of Dawson, Bylaw #13-07.