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Government House, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

now called the Commissioner's Residence, almost complete, 1901



A Guide to Modern Dawson City, Yukon



Yukon's Finest Mansion Finished - Dawson City, 1901

    The handsome new government house, the home for the governor, is being given the finishing touches, and in a week will stand a completed and fully furnished mansion, the finest home structure in the Yukon if not the finest anywhere in the vast stretch of thousands of miles of territory from Vancouver north to the very shores of the unexplored Arctic.

    The Hon. James Hamilton Ross will have the distinction of being the first of the governors of the empire and of the Dominion to occupy a building especially erected in the Yukon for a home for the chief executive of the realm. He will be comfortably at home in the new quarters within two weeks.

    The building is one of the most attractive and creditable structures in Dawson. Standing on First avenue and looking directly over the Yukon river, it is especially prominent from decks of steamers coming into port from the upper river. The exterior has been given the finishing coats of drab or gray, the color adopted for all the government buildings of the city. The structure stands two and a half stories high.

    The completed structure with its furnishings will cost about $35,000

    The interior in finished throughout with British Columbia fir, lighted from cellar to attic with electricity, heated in all quarters by hot air, generated by a big private plant in the basement, equipped with special electrical call bells running to various parts of the house, and supplied with large windows admitting floods of sunlight when desired, furnished with ample storage quarters, spacious hallways, large and elegant drawing rooms, a private office for the governor, cloak rooms in the vestibule, dining room, large kitchen with pantries, all on the first floor, a splendid series of bedrooms, boudoirs and a billiard room on the second floor, and several well furnished rooms in the attic for the servants, play rooms for the children and linen rooms. A sweeping stairway leads from the front main hallway to the second floor, and a back stairway for the servants to use without disturbing others reaches to the second floor and the attic by the rear.

    To step into the building when the electric lights are burning in the evening, and the rooms and hall are filled with their effulgent flood, the house shines resplendent im its wood finishings and its furnishings. Electric chandeliers hang in all the rooms and the halls, and no corner is in darkness.

    The interior of the house is finished throughout, over walls and ceilings, completely in the matchless fir of Puget Sound, polished as smooth as marble, treated with shellac and then made to glisten like the noonday sun pouring on a sea of crystal. The natural wood color, between a straw and a delicate human flesh tint, is preserved in all its original beauty and charm without alteration in the slightest as to its true shade, while the shellac and the varnish simply make the appearance on the whole more radiant. The walls are exquisite Yukon hand carved and moulded cornices with deep frieze and beautiful panel dados running everywhere about the base, while overhead are handsome art panels in the same brilliant fir made with diagonal strips giving effects not unlike those in palaces of more ostentation of the rulers within Britain's vast domain. The newels of the staircases are also hand carved. Types of full blown flowers and other figures are skillfully worked in the wood.

    Entering the mansion from the front, one steps between heavy double vestibuled doors, and stands looking up three steps to the main hallway on the first floor, and beyond to the broad fight of stairs leading to a landing that breaks off on either side and follows to the second floor. On either side of the vastibuled doors are two large cloak and hat rooms, both well lighted by windows.

    Up the first three steps and one is in the hallway proper, 42 feet long and 13 feet wide. A step to the left and the reception room, 15 feet square, is entered. On the same side of the house, and sweeping back 34 feet more to the rear of the building is the handsome drawing room, the largest and most elaborate room in the building, rich in its finishings and furnishings aglow under the sparkling lights.

    Stepping into the hall again, the first room on the left and at the front is the governor's private office, 15 by 15 feet, in the same rich finish as the other rooms. Next to this is the large dining room, and opening off to the rear the pantries and the kitchen and toilets, also reached by other doors from the main hallway.

    Ascending the stairway, the first room on the left and at the rear of the building is the billiard room, 15 by 22 feet, where there already is installed a combination pool and billiard table with equipment for playing.

    Next is a fine bedroom 15 by 13 feet, with clothes closet attached. On the floor is a rich Brussels carpet of buff body and deep olive figure. Then comes another bedroom, at the front, 13 by 12, with sunset tint of Brussels with white traceries.

    In the center of the front of the bullding on this floor is a room designed for a small parlor, which opens to the little veranda, in front of the building.

    Then comes the front corner room on the other side, which will be occupied by the governor, and which has a Brussels carpet of buff body with a modest olive leaf running through it. The next is another bedroom, then comes the bath room and toilet room, and then the stairway leading to the attic.

    The entire work of erecting the handsome building has been in charge of Dominion Architect T. W. Fuller, who has labored indefatigably all summer not only with this building but also the administration building, the new court house and other important government structures. He has had the responsibility of hiring the men, overlooking the work on the buildings and the office accounts, hustling up supplies from the outside, obtaining good material such as is gotten here, and many other duties which have been a worry as well as a demand on energetic hands, all aside from his work of preparing the plans and submitting them to Ottawa for approval and then seeing them executed according to specifications.

    G. Kincaid has been the foreman of the men working on the government house, and has also done the highly creditable hand carving that is a prominent part of the finishing of the interior.

    The mouldings were made by the Yukon Mill company of Dawson.

    McLennan & McFeely installed the jhot air furnace and all the pipings and registers, while the Dawson Electric Light & Power company wired and supplied the building with its handsome chandeliers. The wiring was done under the precautionary scrutiny of Mr. Fuller, who says that all buildingĀ» should be most carefully wired to prevent danger of fires originating from the wires.

    Andrew Anderson, of Anderson Brothers, has had charge of the men doing the painting and varnishing of the entire building.

    Mr. Fuller says that the workmen on the structure are as skilled in all their various lines as any to be found in any part of the world. He says the Yukon has skilled men from all parts of the world equal to the best he ever saw outside, and he is greatly pleased with the work of his men here.

    The government bullding as a whole 50 by 45 feet in dimension on the outside, is two stories high, and has an attic. The ceilings of the first floor are 12 feet high, of the second floor eleven and a half feet high and of the attic eight feet high. The kitchen, which is an extension at the rear, has a ceiling of ten and a half feet.

    The structure rests on wooded pillars set 10 feet deep in the ground, far below the permanent frost line and so deep that steam thawers had to be used in making the excavations. The surface water accumulating in the cellar in the warm weather is drawn to the river by drains.