TELEGRAPH OFFICE

- Siting of the building on its lot and orientation to First Avenue and Steele Street. - Exterior architectural elements such as the roof its cladding, decorative pole starburst in the gable ends, full length open porch and roof, posts and railings. - The original fenestration and original windows. - Exposed log construction and extension of central partition wall through to the exterior. - Lapped timber construction of northern addition. - Interior and exterior trims. - Interior plan, including the log partition, original openings, stairs and closets. - Exposed, as seen from the ground floor, second floor joists and upper level floor boards.

Construction Period: From 1896 to 1905        Designation Level: Municipal

The Telegraph Office is a municipal historic site recognized for its historical, architectural and social values.

Built in 1900, it is one of two surviving buildings in Whitehorse that pre-date 1905. The Telegraph Office is typical of the buildings that were constructed along the Yukon portion of the nationally commemorated Dawson-Ashcroft Telegraph Line. Department of Public Works work crews developed a common vernacular style and design for the Yukon stations.

These buildings were constructed of logs hewn on 3 sides spiked to log uprights at the corners and shared architectural features such as the symmetrical placement of twin entryways flanked by single hung 6/6 windows, simple wood trims, gable roof and a rectangular plan. Twin entryways reflect the interior of the building divided by a log partition into the public telegraph office and private living quarters.

The 1898 Klondike Gold Rush attracted thousands of stampeders; it was soon apparent that a rapid and reliable communication system was required and by 1899, Dawson City was connected to the outside world. Initially the telegraph office was constructed in White Horse on the east bank of the Yukon River. After the terminus of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway was built on the west side of the river, the town site relocated and a new building was erected re-using some of the materials from the original office. This building was used as a telegraph office and operator residence for 27 years.

The social values of the building are reflected in its later functions. From the late 1920s until the early 1930s, the Telegraph Office was the headquarters for the Boy Scouts. In 1952, the newly-formed Yukon Historical Society opened a museum in the building. Its successor, MacBride Museum, continued to use the building for over 60 years making it a significant part of Yukon's history of cultural preservation and interpretation.

The building has undergone few changes over the years, with new flooring on the first floor, a new porch, and a new foundation.

Source: Historic Sites Unit, Cultural Services Branch, Yukon Government file 3630 50 21.

Character Defining Elements

- Siting of the building on its lot and orientation to First Avenue and Steele Street.

- Exterior architectural elements such as the roof its cladding, decorative pole starburst in the gable ends, full length open porch and roof, posts and railings.

- The original fenestration and original windows.

- Exposed log construction and extension of central partition wall through to the exterior.

- Lapped timber construction of northern addition.

- Interior and exterior trims.

- Interior plan, including the log partition, original openings, stairs and closets.

- Exposed, as seen from the ground floor, second floor joists and upper level floor boards.

Historical Sources Location

YHMA Collection:

--acc. Y039, Historic Buildings of Whitehorse, Yukon Historical

Historic Sites Unit, Cultural Services Branch, Yukon Government file 3630 50 21.

Eight architectrual drawing, Brent Riley, Historic Sites Unit, 1994.

Renovation Information

The architectural integrity of the building remains strong with very few changes to the original building. Two rear additions were added within years of the building construction and were modernized by 2004 with only the exterior timber construction remaining of the original northern addition. An open frame porch with 6 upright posts, brackets and a shed roof originally ran the length of the building on the main facade. The porch was altered between the 1920s and the 1940s. A new porch was constructed in 2002, and is similar in appearance to the original. Larger wood windows were installed in the gable ends between 1927 and 1938. The foundation and first floor floors were replaced in the early 1970s. Additional foundation work was completed by 2004 and the floors replaced with tongue and groove wood strip flooring. A sprinkler system was added in 1996.

Construction Style

Log building with steep gable roof and small covered entry. Corrugated sheet metal roofing; wood sill foundation.

Cultural History

This building, constructed on its present site in 1900, was the second telegraph office in Whitehorse. The first telegraph office was built in 1899. It was located on the east bank of the Yukon River, where the original townsite of Whitehorse, then called Closeleigh, was situated. When the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad was completed on the West bank of the river, the telegraph office was stripped of doors, windows, and anything removable for use in the new office.The Whitehorse telegraph office served both as the office and as the residence for its operators. The head operator, George Fleming, lived there until his retirement in 1923, and was succeeded by Bruce Watson until 1927. After that, use of the station ceased and two houses next door were used as the telegraph office instead.

Documentation Location

Historic Sites Unit, Cultural Services Branch, Yukon Government file 3630 50 21.