Robert Service Cabin
Classified Federal Heritage Building
Dawson, Yukon Territory
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1987.
Eighth / Hansen Street, Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada, Dawson, Yukon Territory
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1898 to 1899
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Robert Service Cabin, also known as Building 6, is set amidst the willows and the alders on the lower slopes at the eastern end of Dawson City, in the Dawson Historic Complex National Historic Site of Canada. It is a rustic, two-room, log cabin with a double door entrance, and a front porch that is protected by its gable roof. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Robert Service Cabin is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Robert Service Cabin is one of the best examples of a building associated with the larger impact of the gold rush on Canada, including the popular imagination, the evolving concept of the North, and the economic result. It is directly associated with Robert Service, whose poetry has greatly contributed to the Canadian and international image of Dawson City and the Klondike gold rush. It is also associated with the development of Dawson as a supply, service, and distribution centre and its development as a one-time territorial capital.
The Robert Service Cabin is valued for its good aesthetic design exhibited in its rustic low-lying form. It is a rare example of an early miner’s cabin from the gold rush period. Its log construction demonstrates good functional design using logs chinked with moss to keep out the sub-arctic cold. Good craftsmanship and materials are evident throughout.
Robert Service Cabin maintains an unchanged relationship to its site. It reinforces the gold rush character of its historical streetscape setting in Dawson and is a symbol of its region that is known across Canada.
Sources: Joan Mattie, Twenty-two Dawson structures, Dawson, Yukon, Heritage Character Statement, 88-012; Robert Service Cabin, Dawson, Yukon, Heritage Character Statement, 88-012.
The character-defining elements of Robert Service Cabin should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and good materials and craftsmanship, for example: the one-storey massing which consists of a two-room structure with a gable roof; the rustic, low-lying form; the log construction with logs chinked with moss to keep out the sub-arctic cold; the double door and the arrangement of windows; the authentic fabric and design features associated with the gold rush period and
occupancy by Robert Service.
The manner in which Robert Service Cabin maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the Gold Rush character of its streetscape setting and is a symbol of the region, as evidenced by: its ongoing historic relationship to its site on 8th Avenue at Hansen; its overall massing, design and materials all of which contribute to the historic character of its streetscape setting; its location as part of the historical complex in Dawson and its role to commemorate
Robert Service, which makes it an important landmark that is known across Canada.
Heritage Character Statement
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 cabin was constructed in 1898-99 during or shortly after the Klondike Gold Rush. It was designated as being of national significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board in 1967 and acquired by Parks Canada in 1970. The building was restored and stabilized in 1983-84. It is currently preserved and in use to commemorate Robert Service at Klondike National Historic Sites. The Canadian Parks Service, Environment Canada is the custodian of the building. See FHBRO Building Report 88-12.
Reason for Designation
The building was designated Classified because of its close association with Robert Service and because it is a rare example of an early miner's cabin from the gold rush period. It is an important landmark that is known across Canada.
The 8th Avenue site has retained a great deal of its historic character.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Robert Service cabin resides in its rustic low-lying form, the entirety of its fabric, and design, and in the rustic character of the site.
All authentic fabric and authentic design features associated with the the gold rush period and occupancy by Robert Service should be meticulously maintained. Should repairs prove necessary, all work should be preceded by careful assessment and study to ensure appropriate conservation measures are taken and minimal original fabric is lost.
The present use is appropriate, as access to the building is restricted.
This results in little wear and tear being imposed on the building. Considering the value of the building, it is recommended that the fabric be monitored so any negative impacts can be identified and avoided.