My first sketch of Strait’s Auction House was in 1961, and while I was doing the sketch the old Bonanza Creek miner Harry Lehman walked by with his little dog. I believe he had walked all the way in from the creek to have a chat and a drink with his friends Ole and Marie Christenson at the Occidental Hotel, as I heard he occasionally liked to do.
The painting above was done in 2007. It’s one of my favourites. But this one was sketched at a different angle, which showed both a front and side view. In this one I liked how the yellow birch leaves contrasted with the rusty background. Harry and the Christensons are gone now, as is the Occidental Hotel, which, sadly, was torn down.
Strait’s Auction House dates back to around 1901. It was named after Ebenezer S. Strait who bought the half lot that it sits on and had it built. Strait used it as his principal residence and place of business until 1910. It’s listed as the only second-hand store and auction house in Dawson City during 1902 and 1903. For years, Strait operated a second-hand store at the location, carrying all lines of goods. A painted sign on its exterior advertised, “Groceries, guns, ammunition, hardware, tobacco, furniture, crockery, clothing and tents.” Strait left Dawson for good in the late teens. He apparently just locked the door and left town, leaving all his personal possessions and stock behind.
Different owners followed and today it now sits in a very bad state of repair. It has probably been one of the most-photographed buildings in the Yukon.
Anyone with information about this subject, please write Jim Robb: The Colourful Five Per Cent Scrapbook – Can You Identify? c/o the Yukon News, 211 Wood Street, Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2E4, or email through the News website, www.yukon-news.com.