The Taylor House
The Taylor House
The Taylor House
The Taylor House
The Taylor & Drury Company, co-founded by Isaac Taylor and WS Drury in 1897, grew quickly into a Yukon-wide mercantile chain. By 1928 the company operated twelve stores in the Yukon and the Whitehorse dealership for General Motors. William (Bill) Taylor was the son of Isaac and Sarah Drury Taylor. He worked for the Taylor & Drury Company during his teen years, and advanced to full time after high school. Bill was educated at the Lambert Street School. He then attended the University School in Victoria where he was on the B.C. Championship rugby team. After graduating, he spent a year at the Seattle Fur Exchange learning the fur business and attending night classes in accounting. After returning to the Yukon, he traveled to the Taylor and Drury posts with his uncle William Drury Sr. to learn the fur trade business. He took over management of the Mayo store and spent several years there before returning to Whitehorse to take over the company’s General Motors dealership which was his main responsibility until his retirement. By 1930 Bill was the chief accounting official for all of the stores, fur buyer, and worked in the company's management sector. He was active in many endeavors including founding the Kiwanis Club, City alderman and a member of the City Planning Board and the board building the first Civic Arena. He was a member of the Yukon curling teams that made the B.C. Playdowns, and a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers and the Masonic Lodge.
Aline Taylor was largely responsible for the design of the house. She was the daughter of Marie Ange Arbour Beaudin from Grand Riviere, Quebec, who arrived in the Yukon in 1918 speaking no English. Recently widowed, Marie also had two young children with her, one of whom was Aline. When Marie tried to purchase a ticket to return home on the S.S. Sophia, no one could understand her. They called in a passing teamster, Antoine Cyr, to translate. Antoine and Marie were married five days later. She was fortunate to have missed her trip because she would have been on the S.S. Sophia when it sank.
Despite having no English when she arrived, Aline soon excelled in school. Frequent reports of her top marks appeared in the paper. It was at the Lambert Street school where she met her future husband Bill.
Bill and Aline were married in 1935 at the Old Log Church. They rented a house for two years until they purchased the 412 Main St. property. Aline Taylor obtained the plans for this residence from magazines and hired local resident Thomas McKay to build it. In May 1937, Bill and Aline Taylor harvested their house logs approximately 10 miles from Whitehorse and then stacked them for drying at 412 Main Street. By December of the same year, the house was ready for occupancy.
As the population in the Yukon dropped and the mercantile business declined, the Taylor and Drury Stores closed, leaving only the Whitehorse operations functioning until 1974. The Taylor House was sold in 1969 to the Chamber of Mines when the mining industry was the major economic activity in the Yukon. The Chamber of Mines began having difficulties in the early 1990s when the price of gold declined and the cost of fuel increased. Unable to afford the necessary renovations and maintenance on the building, the Chamber sold the property to the Yukon Government in 1997. The government completed extensive interior renovations to adapt the house for office space. The Taylor House was used for many years as office space by the Yukon Heritage Resources Board. The Office of the Commissioner moved to the Taylor House in 2015.
Biographical Information Isaac Taylor:
Born in Thirsk, Yorkshire. Came to the Yukon in 1898. "Ike" Taylor and W.S. Drury opened eighteen Taylor and Drury stores throughout the Yukon. They began their 75 year partnership in Atlin, B.C. in 1899. When the railroad was completed to Bennett, Taylor and Drury moved their shop from Atlin to Bennett. They were both familiar with the clothing trade, and Drury was a shoemaker with a sturdy sewing machine. He kept himself busy making sails for boats and scows travelling to Dawson. When the railway was completed a year later, Taylor and Drury moved to Whitehorse on the first train. Almost overnight, Whitehorse had became a rail and river transport centre. Taylor and Drury set their tent up on the river bank, at what is now First Avenue and Elliott Street, and in less than a year had expanded their business to include the Bon Marche Men's Wear Store on First Avenue at Steele Street. Taylor died in 1959.
Personal Account by Marilyn Taylor:
“‘The Old House’ at 412 Main Street brings back happy memories and stories to me, my children, and grandchildren each time we drive by or reminisce.
My father, William (Bill) Taylor, born in 1909, was the eldest son of Isaac and Sarah Drury Taylor. He was active in the family mercantile company founded by his father and uncle in 1898 which expanded to 13 branches throughout the territory and a General Motors dealership. My mother, Aline Arbour Cyr came to the Yukon at the age of six with her brother and recently-widowed mother and were among the early francophones in Whitehorse. Bill and Aline were married in the Old Log Church in 1935.
In 1937, they bought two lots (100 x 100) from White Pass & Yukon Route situated at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street on “the edge of town.” Now the house sits in the heart of downtown Whitehorse. Main Street had a horse wagon trail beyond 4th Avenue, and Bill cut out the lane in the block and built a sidewalk, those tasks being the responsibility of the owner.
In May of 1937, Bill and Aline cut down trees about 10 miles from downtown Whitehorse. Late one evening, they were notified of a bush fire where the logs were situated. With the help of Aline’s brother, they loaded logs onto a one-ton truck, making many trips from the bush to town. The logs were stacked for drying on their two lots, and in August they were ready for building. The basement was dug with horses and scrapers. All lumber was purchased through White Pass, and other materials, fixtures and furniture were purchased through the family business, Taylor & Drury Ltd.
After electricity, a well, septic system, and a wood furnace were installed, Bill and Aline moved in and did much of the work on the house themselves. With Bill working at Taylor & Drury, they had only Sundays and weekday evenings available to work on the house. In 1946, the house was raised, and a full-size concrete basement was added. This included a large rumpus room where family and friends could gather. The Taylors also provided this room to the United Church of Canada for Sunday School for a few years until the church was built. In 1950, the second floor was completed, housing two bedrooms, bathroom, and study for their son and daughter.
The yard originally was kept natural with granite spread from the Pueblo Mine area. Poppies grew wildly throughout the pines and spruces. The lots were fully fenced and it was a popular pastime for the children in the neighborhood to see how many times they could crawl around the horizontal railing on their knees and no hands without falling off. Bill planted a blue spruce in the front yard and it was always decorated with blue and green lights for the Christmas season.
In 1969, due to the expansion of business and traffic, they sold the house to the Yukon Chamber of Mines who occupied it until they sold it to the Yukon Government in 1997. The interior of the house has been renovated to house the Yukon Heritage Resources Board, but the exterior has changed very little since its construction. It continues to provide a view of historic Whitehorse to visitors.”
53: Whitehorse Star, 16 October 1974.
54: Whitehorse Star, 30 April 1970.