North West Mounted Police Stables

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Dawson, Yukon Territory
Side View © ©Permission Guy Masson
Side View
© ©Permission Guy Masson
View of the N.W.M.P. Stables, showing the ventilated cupola and the narrow stall windows, 1987 © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1987.Side View © ©Permission Guy MassonSide View © ©Permission Guy Masson
Address : 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
  • 1903 to 1903 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Robert Moncrieff  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Former N.W.M.P. Stables  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 87-069
DFRP Number: 20060 00

Description of Historic Place

The North-West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) Stables, also known as the Former N.W.M.P. Stables, is located on what was the site of Fort Herchmer and later became the south end of Dawson City in the ‘Government Reserve’. It is a timber structure with a gable roof that features a louvred cupola. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The N.W.M.P. Stables is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The N.W.M.P. Stables is closely associated with the North-West Mounted Police, and its role in the rapid, early development of Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. The structure is associated with the establishment of law and order, and the exercise of Canadian sovereignty in the northern territories. It is also one of Canada’s few remaining N.W.M.P. buildings from this period.

Architectural Value:
The N.W.M.P. Stables is valued for its good, simple aesthetic. It is a timber frame building designed to accommodate horses in sub-arctic frontier conditions. The structure retains its functional character despite being reduced by about 40% sometime prior to 1925. The structure exhibits good functional design and good workmanship and materials.

Environmental Value:
The N.W.M.P. Stables reinforces the character and previous role of the government reserve area taken in association with the surviving structures of Fort Herchmer. It is a familiar landmark to residents and visitors.

Brian Dewalt, N.W.M.P. Stables, Government Reserve, Site 4, Parcel U4, Dawson City, Yukon, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 87-069; Former N.W.M.P. Stables, Dawson, Yukon Territory, Heritage Character Statement 87-069.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the N.W.M.P. Police Stables should be respected.

Its good functional design and good construction and materials, as evidenced in: the simple, functional form of the structure, the rectangular massing formed by the gable-roofed structure; the timber frame construction and the timber siding of the exterior walls; the functional features that characterize it as a stable such as the ventilated cupola, and the narrow stall windows; the large multi-paned window in each gable; the double doors that provide access.

The manner in which the N.W.M.P. Stables reinforces the Fort Herchmer complex setting and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by: its overall design and materials that harmonize with the surroundings and with the other buildings withinin the fort setting; its role as an important component of the group of four surviving structures from the Fort Herchmer complex, which makes it familiar to locals and visitors.

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 Stables building was built in 1903 to designs by Robert Moncrieff to accommodate police horses. At some time prior to 1925, it was reduced in size by about 40%. In 1972, it was acquired by Environment Canada. The building remained vacant for many years then underwent stabilization work in 1982. It is now used as unheated storage space by Klondike National Historic Sites and is interpreted on the Government Reserve walking tour. Environment Canada is custodian of the property. See FHBRO Building Report 87-69.

Reason for Designation

The building was designated Recognized because of its association with the NWMP and their role in administering the northern territories and the exercise of Canadian sovereignty in the area and because it is an important component of the group of four surviving Fort Herchmer/Government Reserve structures.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage value of the building resides in the entirety of its surviving early materials and those features that characterize it as a NWMP stable of the period. Details such as the ventilated cupolas, and the narrow stall windows are more refined than those found in some of the more crude log counterparts of this building. Many interior and exterior features of the stables survive, these should be protected.

The setting of the property, the Fort Herchmer complex, has been modified by the removal of most other NWMP buildings and development in the area over the past thirty years. More recent site development has reinstated and clarified the relationship between the surviving buildings of the complex in which the NWMP Stable plays an important part. Future site development should retain or even strengthen this connection through the use of historic precedent, compatible circulation patterns or landscaping.

The building now serves primarily as an artifact and secondarily as unheated storage. These uses are appropriate as they make fewer demands on the building than a more active use might.