The Old Log Church and Rectory were built in 1900 and 1901 respectively and are among the oldest structures still standing in Whitehorse. Landmarks in the community, they are designated for their historical, architectural, cultural and social values.
Bishop William Carpenter Bompas called on Rev. R.J. Bowen to travel to Whitehorse, an emerging community, to provide a place of worship to the people there. Having already constructed small log churches at Forty Mile and Dawson City, Bowen designed and had the Church built in just two months. The first service was held on October 7, 1900. The Rectory was completed by spring of 1901.
The Church uses simple half lap log construction. Subsequent additions show the growth and development of the Old Log Church through improved craftsmanship and the incorporation of traditional church design features such as the sanctuary, vestry and baptistery.
The construction of the Rectory exhibits a higher level of craftsmanship and design in the one and a half storey, dovetail log building with a piece- en-piece addition. The Rectory has been used almost continuously as a residence for clergy since its construction. The addition of a small school on the west end in 1904 and the addition of meeting space shows the evolution of use of the Rectory over the years.
The Church served as a centre of worship and as a social gathering place for locals, visiting dignitaries and royalty. During the construction of the Alaska Highway the church was a haven for army personnel stationed in Whitehorse who soon made up half the congregation. It served as the Cathedral for Yukon for seven years under Bishop Greenwood before the new Cathedral was built on the adjacent lot in 1960. By 1962, the Old Log Church was reopened as a museum. In the 1980s, as well as being a museum it was also known as St Simon’s Church, with a primarily First Nation congregation. Today, historical services are still held during the summer months.
In 1978, the Old Log Church was commemorated as a historic site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Yukon.
Character Defining Elements
• Orientation and setback of the buildings from Fourth Avenue and Elliott Street.
• varieties of log construction techniques used in original buildings and additions
• The sanctuary, vestry, belfry and baptistry in the church
• Original door and window openings, sash and trim
• Interior plan and finishes including the exposed truss system, wood flooring and ceiling of the church.
• Landscaped lot with trees and grass
• Plaque and monument indicating the 1979 recognition of the site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Yukon
Source: Historic Sites Unit, Cultural Services Branch, Yukon Government file 3630 32 13