The Arctic Brotherhood hall is designated for its historic, cultural, architectural and social significance.
The historical and cultural value of the site relates to its association with the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush and with the Arctic Brotherhood. The Arctic Brotherhood was a fraternal social organization established in February 1899, for men residing in the northwest section of North America. Camp No. 4 of the Arctic Brotherhood was established in Dawson City in November 1899 and rapidly grew in membership to necessitate the construction of a new Arctic Brotherhood Fraternity Hall. Completed in October 1901, the Hall was constructed in three weeks using financial contributions from its members. At its opening, the hall was touted as the largest and grandest building not only in Dawson but in the entire northwest.
Thomas Firth, the founder of a successful Dawson insurance company and the father of the first mayor Dawson, Howard Firth, was a partial owner of the building from 1911-1929. The family insurance company continues to this day. In 1925, after the Arctic Brotherhood ceased to exist, the building served as a community hall. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles moved into the building in 1929 after their building burned and stayed until 1943, when the Dawson aerie was disbanded.
The Arctic Brotherhood Hall is one of few remaining buildings from the early 1900s in the Downtown Transitional Heritage Area. Its vernacular architecture is typical of Dawson for this time period and consists of a two storey frame building with coved siding and a metal gable roof with decorative brackets supporting a wide eave on the front façade and a small vented cupola along the ridgeline. The primary façade’s asymmetrical fenestration of the original building is punctuated with a second storey open balcony with a pedimented gable roof, square pilasters and posts, and geometric railings. By the 1920s two small windows were added on either side of the pediment, more recently they were converted to vents with a third one added above the apex of the gable of the pediment. By the 1920s, a shed roofed addition was added on the south wall. It was enlarged in the 1930s, and again in the early 1980s and in the mid-1990s, providing additional space and housing the main access to the building. Another small addition was added to the north wall by 2010.
The social values of the site are demonstrated through the building’s continued use for community events and celebrations. In 1967, it was renovated and renamed the Centennial Hall. In 1973, it was re-purposed as Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, Canada’s first legal gambling hall. Its present use reflects on the wilder social life in Dawson in the early 1900s and continues to serve as a community gathering space during the winter months.
The building is referred to in 1901 Dawson newspapers as in operation that year. If it was constructed as the "Fraternity Temple" it was completed as early as 1898. This building was used as the Arctic Brotherhood Hall until sometime between 1925 and 1929 when it was taken over by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Substantial additions were made to the building in 1910 when the building was expanded onto the newly required Lot 1.
Personal Recollection - John Gould - The Arctic Brotherhood who built this building never changed the requirement to become a member - as a result the organization died with the members. The Firth boys in Whitehorse, their grandfather, Tom A Firth were members. The Fraternal Order of Eagles moved into this building circa 1929. Once the Eagles closed down the building, it became the community hall. Charles Burkhard was responsible for saving it. The man who owned it in the 1930's was going to move it to Mayo. Burkhard took up a collection to save the building. In 1967 Canada's centennial money was acquired from the Federal Government and it was upgraded. The wood heaters were removed, a good sewer and water hook up was put in and a kitchen was added, it then became the Centennial Hall. About 1973 it became Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall, Canada's first legal gambling hall.
Character Defining Elements
• Siting of the building on its lot with orientation to Queen Street and Fourth Avenue.
• Setback from the wooden boardwalk along Queen Street and Fourth Avenue
• Materials, scale and form
• Exterior architectural elements such as the coved siding, metal gable roof and decorative brackets, original window and door openings, wood trim and corner boards.
• Open balcony with pedimented roof, raked and horizontal cornices, infill of vertical panelling, square posts and geometric railing on the main façade.
• Shed roof addition on south wall with decorative panels of stickwork on the main façade.
• Vented cupola with gable roof along the ridgeline
Historical Sources Location
Dominion Land Titles
Territorial Land Titles
Dawson Municipal Records. Assessment and Tax Rolls
Dawson City Directories for 1903, 1905-6 and 1915-16
#17/131, #28/141, Parks Canada, Klondike National Historic Sites
Personal interview, John Gould, 1999
Permit issued in October 1982 to perform rehabilitation and expansion of existing building. Finalized in July 1983
Permit issued in March 1983 to construct framing. Finalized July 1983.
Permit issued in June 1988 to construct new decks and install wheelchair ramp. No final date.
Permit issued in June 1995 to construct change/dressing room addition to existing building. Finalized in August 1995.
Permit issued in April 1996 to install ventilation systems. No final date.
Building has had addition built on the rear pre-2010.