Next week (March 25 to 27), we’re going to have the second instalment of last year’s popular Doors Open Dawson event, in which locals and visitors get to walk through a selection of Parks buildings, institutions, businesses and private homes that are not usually open to the public.
Last year’s event was such a hit that it prompted immediate calls for a repeat, and it’s been in the planning stages for months.
There is, of course, a lot to be seen in Dawson, and visitors are often puzzled as to what they should take pictures of.
I find them taking shots of the Robert Service School, which was only 20 years old last year. This was (to me, anyway, having sat on the building committee) a significant anniversary which both the school and the school council totally failed to mark.
However, impressive as it is (and the only people I know who are not impressed by it are locals who went to school there and think it’s normal) it’s not exactly a historic treasure yet.
Some of those photo buffs immediately turn around and snap the Triple J Hotel (originally owned by three guys whose names began with J). It’s a nice looking building now, but just 25 years ago it looked more like its annex at the back end of its compound and (forgive me for repeating a theme from an earlier column) it was located around the corner from where it is now.
Again – not a historic marvel.
So how can you tell the real diamonds from the costume jewelry?
Fortunately, several organizations have done that work for you, and have posted signs all over town to let you know what’s historical and what is simply historically sympathetic.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has plaqued (a new verb for you) a number of buildings and sites around the town, including several sites on the grounds of the Commissioner’s Residence, which is itself marked by a Parks Canada plaque, one of the light blue or maybe aqua) signs prominently planted around the town.
Not all HSMBC targets are lucky enough to have federal funding. The Old CIBC Building on Front Street has what must be one of the earliest HSMBC bronze plaques. I’m showing a fall photo here since, you guessed it, you can’t see the thing in the winter when it’s covered in snow.
As for the poor derelict building which it marks, it might be better if you couldn’t see it. It’s a prime example of private enterprise at its worst.
Beside the front door is an even older plaque, marking the fact that Robert Service once worked there. I don’t know who erected that one, but the bank abandoned it, along with any sense of responsibility for the building it used so prominently in TV ads during Dawson’s Centennial years, nearly two decades ago now, and it’s been falling to pieces ever since.
The owner has pledged to do something about it, but locals are not holding their breath waiting.
Hmmm. I’ve got to wrap this up for this week, which is too bad because I have about two dozen more buildings to mention. Perhaps I’ll pick up where I left off in my next column, which I’ll try to devote strictly to Parks Canada plaques.