A Yukon man is facing criminal charges after allegedly breaking into the Red Feather Saloon in Dawson City last month and destroying or damaging more than 100 objects inside, including 31 originals.
The total cost of the damage is estimated at more than $10,000.
According to a Nov. 6 press release from the Yukon RCMP, police in Dawson were called to the building at Third Avenue and Princess Street around 1 a.m. on Oct. 21 for reports of a break-and-enter in progress.
Brandon Callison-Jim, 19, has been charged with one count of break-and-enter and mischief over $5,000.
Callison-Jim was released on conditions and is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Dawson on Dec. 11.
The current Red Feather Saloon building is a reproduction of the original post-gold-rush era watering hole. It’s owned by the Yukon government but used by Parks Canada for the interpretive programs it runs in Dawson, and is a popular stop on several of the walking tours the agency offers in the summer.
The interior of the saloon, which can typically only be accessed by the public during Parks Canada programs, is elaborately decorated in period style, featuring a “stocked” bar, several tables, benches and hundreds of other smaller items.
Although many of the decorations are reproductions, a number of the items are actually original pieces from the gold rush, some of which were donated by long-time Dawson residents to the Klondike National Historic Sites’ collection.
In an email Nov. 6, Parks Canada spokesperson Kathy Burden wrote that the break-and-enter damaged the building’s front door and one of the windows.
Inside, the damaged and destroyed items included “bottles, flutes, decanters, and a variety of glasses,” Burden wrote, with 27 historic or original objects destroyed and four damaged. Eighty reproductions or props were also destroyed.
The total cost of the damages, Burden wrote, which includes repairing the front door and window as well as replacing the damaged or broken objects, is estimated to be more than $10,000.
“The security and protection of cultural resources is of utmost importance,” Burden wrote. “Parks Canada is working with Yukon Government to increase security measures at the building, and to refurnish the Red Feather Saloon for the 2019 visitor season.”
According to a Parks Canada report from 1980, what would become the Red Feather Saloon was built in the summer of 1902 and was “probably the last saloon built (if not the last licensed) in Dawson.” It closed in 1915 and in subsequent years, was used as a storage shed, garage and workshop.
“Years of neglect, the changes of doors and windows, and the gutting of the interior have marked it, but could not obliterate the spirit of boomtown Dawson which remains,” the report reads. “Although this building stands far from the commercial district where the other saloons were concentrated, it symbolizes the mythology of all of 52 Dawson’s saloon. Although built after the Gold Rush, its history touches many of the features of Dawson, and its survival provides a strong link to the society that briefly flourished there.”
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