Post Office

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Dawson, Yukon Territory
View of front and side facade of building. © © Permission Guy Masson
View of front and side facade of building.
© © Permission Guy Masson
View of the side of the Post Office, showing the building's exterior, which is modest but carefully detailed and its Classical design, in keeping with other Dawson City federal buildings, 1987. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1987.View of front and side facade of building. © © Permission Guy MassonView of the front entrance of the Post Office, showing the octagonal tower, which gives the building a sense of stability, defines the entry and provides an important focal point in the town, 1987. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1987.
Address : King Street and Third Avenue, Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada, Dawson, Yukon Territory

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1988-04-14
Dates:
  • 1900 to 1900 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Thomas W. Fuller  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Former Post Office  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 87-067
DFRP Number: 20017 00

Description of Historic Place

The two-storey Post Office, also known as the Former Post Office, is a substantial wooden building, which stands out at the corner of King Street and Third Avenue in the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada. It is a prominent local landmark, distinguished by its three-storey octagonal corner entrance tower. Its regularly spaced windows and pedimented doorway, as well as the detailing of its decorative wood trim, reflect a classical source for its design. The walls are clad in horizontal wood siding. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Post Office is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Post Office is closely associated with the commitment, establishment, and exercise of sovereignty by the federal government in the northwest, and the provision of postal and other essential federal services in frontier communities.

Architectural Value
The Post Office is an important example of the work of Thomas W. Fuller prior to his becoming Chief Architect of the Department of Public Works. The building is an excellent example of a pre-First World War post office executed in wood, and it is unique in Canada in that, although built in wood, it is clearly a federal building and carries many of the features of the more substantial masonry federal buildings in southern communities. It is an example of the adaptation of design to local construction conditions, materials and skills available in an area where masonry construction was impractical but the design requirements were similar.

Environmental Value
As one of the most substantial, distinctive, and well-designed buildings in Dawson, the Post Office has always had a strong visual impact in the community. It is a key element in establishing the turn-of-the-century character of the King Street and Third Avenue area and is an important regional landmark.

Sources: Joan Mattie, Former Post Office, Dawson City Historical Complex, Dawson City, Yukon, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 87-067; Former Post Office, Dawson City Historical Complex, Dawson City, Yukon, Heritage Character Statement, 87-067.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Post Office should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic design, good functional design and very good materials and craftsmanship, for example: the entirety of its exterior and interior composition, design and fabric, and its surviving original services, furnishings and fittings; its all wood construction; its Classical design, in keeping with other Dawson City federal buildings; the building's exterior, which is modest but carefully detailed; the octagonal tower, which gives the building a sense of stability, defines the entry and provides an important focal point in the town; the exceptional interior materials and workmanship, with almost all finishes, trim and furnishings executed in varnished fir; its uniqueness as an extremely rare example of a purpose-built federal building from the period that still displays every detail and feature of its original purpose and design; the interior plan, which retains the original separation of Post Office, Customs and Crown Lands functions, finishes, services and principal furnishings.

The manner in which the Post Office reinforces the present character of the setting of the historic district and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by: its ongoing historic relationship with the lot lines, the boardwalk, the adjacent structures and the streetscape; its materials, detailing, and the treatment of the façades, which visually unify the bank with the adjacent structures; its familiarity to the residents of Dawson and to visitors of the Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Post Office was built in 1900 to designs by Thomas W. Fuller. It served as the city post office until 1923 after which it had a variety of owners until 1970, when it was re-purchased by the federal government. The Post Office was designated of national significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1967. In 1974, the building was stabilized and repaired by Parks Canada and opened to the public as a part of Klondike National Historic Sites. Environment Canada is custodian of the building. See FHBRO Building Report 87-67.


Reason for Designation

The Post Office was designated Classified because of its important historical associations, its architecture, and its importance to the streetscape of the community. The Post Office is a major local landmark.

The building is closely associated with the commitment, establishment, and exercise of sovereignty by the federal government in the north-west. It also represents the provision of postal and other essential federal services in frontier communities.

The former Dawson City Post Office is an excellent example of a pre-WWI post office executed in wood. Classical in design like the other Dawson City federal buildings, the post office retains the details and materials of its original design and construction. The building's exterior is modest but carefully detailed. The octagonal tower gives the building a sense of stability, defines the entry and provides an important focal point in the town.

The former Post Office is unique in Canada in that although built in wood, it is clearly a federal building and carries many of the features of the more substantial masonry federal buildings built in southern communities. It is an example of the adaptation of a design to local construction conditions and materials and skills availability in an area where masonry construction was impractical but the design requirements similar.

The interior of the building retains its original plan, separation of the Post Office and Customs and Crown Lands functions, finishes, services and principal furnishings. The interior materials and workmanship are exceptional, almost all finishes, trim and furnishings being executed in varnished fir. The interior has been altered very little. As such it is an extremely rare example of a purpose-built federal building from the period that still displays every detail and feature of its original purpose and design. The building has considerable artifactural value.

The building is an important example of the work of Thomas W. Fuller prior to his becoming Chief Architect of DPW.

As one of the most substantial, distinctive, and well-designed buildings in Dawson City, the Post Office has always had a strong visual impact in the community. It is a key element in establishing the turn-of-the-century character of the King Street and Third Avenue area and is an important regional landmark.


Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the old Post Office resides in the entirety of its exterior and interior composition, design and fabric and in its surviving original services, furnishings and fittings. The building is currently being presented to visitors as an important component of Klondike National Historic Sites and to provide some postal services on a seasonal basis. This use is entirely appropriate as it has almost no impact on the integrity of the building and makes it accessible to the public. Given this building's considerable value as an unaltered, fully preserved federal building from the period and as one of the last surviving intact period interiors in Dawson City, any proposal to change or enhance its current use should be carefully scrutinized with respect to the potential short- and long-term impact on the building and its present high level of integrity.

Given the exceptional heritage value of the building and its all-wood construction, a multi-disciplinary fire protection survey and possible enhancement of the current level of protection is recommended.



1989.06.14