Klondike Korner: Giving Directions in Dawson Can Be Confusing

Giving directions in Dawson can be a very confusing exercise, both for those of us who live here and those who are visiting.

The legal surveys of the lots in the town tend to produce some weird results when translated into street numbers.

My own house sits on what are supposed to be two residential lots, but which must have been two and a half at some point because the official city maps show it having three lot numbers. We actually use the lowest number.

For years, I had no idea what I should give as a street address, and it didn’t matter anyway because we don’t have house-to-house mail delivery here and the only number you need for mail is your post office box (or bag in my case).

There was was a time when I gave these directions for getting to our house: we’re two blocks east from the school. Take 5th Avenue to either Princess or Queen, go up to 7th Avenue and go to the middle of the block. It’s a blue house, on two lots, on the high side of the street.

Or, if it was a local: we’re right beside John Gould’s house on 7th Avenue – the big, blue house.

The City of Dawson’s first serious attempt at numbering had the town office giving out nice uniform black matte numbers to residents to put on their homes. This was because we wanted to avoid people going out and buying those crappy looking gold and silver stick-on numbers. We do have a historic look to maintain after all.

Many of us screwed them on, but some of us, like my friend the Bandit, have houses on corners and aren’t sure which street they’re on. Some have assumed that the street where their main entrance is located is their street when, in fact, the city survey map shows that their lot is on the adjoining street.

Our current mayor, Mr. Jenkins, has several buildings on his lot, including his personal residence and some staff houses belonging to his business. When we were discussing this at the last council meeting, he mentioned that the entire group of buildings just uses one street number.

I don’t have any of those complications, so these days I can just tell people that we’re at 936 7th Avenue. I usually add the “midway between Princess and Queen” just to clarify the location.

That can matter, since not all buildings in Dawson currently sit on the locations where they began their existences, and sometimes the numbers migrated with them, further confusing the situation.

In a later column, I’ll tell you about the one-time brothel that moved up town to become an inn, and the fire hall that moved across town to become a drug store.

In the meantime, I’m hoping that the new push to number the streets won’t mean we have to change ours. We bought a very nice cast iron plaque with our name and street number on it a few years ago when in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it would be annoying to have to replace it.

After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.

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