Dawson resident worries about lesser known historic sites

A born and bred Dawsonite who has worked in the past to restore some of the town’s historic sites is blaming Parks Canada for allowing a number of others to rot to the ground.

A born and bred Dawsonite who has worked in the past to restore some of the town’s historic sites is blaming Parks Canada for allowing a number of others to rot to the ground.

Contractor Greg Hakonson’s comments come on the heels of last week’s announcement that the federal government was investing $13.7 million to upgrade the infrastructure at several Parks Canada sites across the territory. The Joe Boyle House, Bear Creek Machine Shop, Dredge No. 4 and Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City are among the historic sites set to receive major improvements.

But Hakonson – who renovated the Odd Fellows Hall and turned the old liquor store into the Yukon School of Visual Arts – said he’s spent the last 25 years trying to find a way to work with Parks Canada to prevent other sites from crumbling.

“Talking to Parks Canada is like talking to a wall,” he said.

“They’ve had an offer from me that’s been sitting in their hands for three years now. Some Level II buildings have already perished and quite a number of them are close to perishing.”

Parks Canada uses a Level I designation for buildings that have “national historic significance” and Level II for ones that have “other heritage values.”

Other Level I sites in Dawson include the Commissioner’s Residence, post office, Ruby’s Place and Billy Bigg’s Blacksmith Shop.

Hakonson argues that Level II buildings in Dawson City – such as the Bonanza Hotel or the “kissing buildings” – have been ignored over the years, with any available funding going to upgrade Level I sites instead.

In 2011, Parks Canada released a report in which it stated that 57 per cent of Level I buildings and structures were in fair condition, as opposed to 35 per cent for Level IIs.

Hakonson said it’s important for him to try to save Level II structures because of their significance.

“I’m born and raised here, I knew the tail end of the gold rushers,” he said.

“I played in all of those buildings when they were still full of all the gold rush stuff. It’s kind of a sick feeling to think that the people that we’ve put our trust in to look after our heritage are going to record its demise.”

Hakonson said he’s written letters to Yukon MP Ryan Leef in May, June and July, asking to find out what the position is on Level II buildings in Dawson City, but he’s received no reply.

He said one solution would be for Parks Canada to enter into partnerships with the private sector so that Level II sites can be given the proper attention they deserve.

“We’re trying to get Yukoners aware that our history is rotting away here in Dawson – literally,” he said.

Based on a 2010 Parks Canada report detailing the state of Klondike national historic sites, the management of Level II sites was deemed “unsustainable.”

“The required number of staff to effectively manage Level II cultural resources owned by the PCA (Parks Canada Agency) is challenged by the sheer number and the resources required,” according to the report.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read