Back in Column #2 of this series, I promised you a couple of moving stories about Dawson buildings.
My last column should certainly have made it clear that I was thinking about actual physical relocation rather than a tug at the heart stings.
When I moved to Dawson in 1985, there was a clunky complex of 1950 vintage buildings sitting at the corner of Queen Street and 3rd Avenue. One of them held the territorial liquor store downstairs and the public library, social services offices and Dawson City Housing upstairs.
Right next door was the fire hall, with the fire department downstairs and living quarters for a firefighter upstairs.
These days there have been a lot of changes on that corner. The sad barnyard fowl that was the blocky YTG building has been transformed into the spiffy looking swan that is the KIAC School of Visual Arts (a story for another time) and the fire hall is gone, its functions relocated to a building that used to sit on 5th Avenue but is now on Front Street (another long story).
If you look at the SOVA building, you’ll notice that the south side is incomplete, finished only to the extent of the TYVEC that keeps the weather out. That will be remedied during the next year when the permanent home for Yukon College is finally attached to the arts college.
But what happened to the fire hall, you ask?
Well, it moved. A block down and one block over, at the corner of Princess Street and 2nd Avenue, there sits the Ray of Sunshine Variety Store, which we all tend to refer to as the drug store, even though it doesn’t have a pharmacist and all the serious medication in town is dispensed by either the Dawson Medical Clinic or the Dawson Health Care Centre.
Ray of Sunshine is where you go for over-the-counter drugs, shampoo, razors and all the non-prescription goodies you might need.
Since most Dawson City buildings are built up on blocks on building pads rather than attached to in-ground foundations (permafrost, you see), it’s quite possible to pick them up, load them on I-beams with wheels and axles attached, and trundle them to where you need them.
That’s what happened to the fire hall. In its new location, it was originally the home for two businesses on the ground floor and a rental apartment where the firefighter’s residence used to be. Half of the building was Sunshine Bookkeeping and the other side was originally Black Sand and Gold, Dawson’s very first Internet coffee shop. The sign for that can still be seen on the metal rear wall that faces Front Street.
It’s been some years now since the Sunshine folks took over the whole ground floor and decided to operate a drug/variety store, Ray of Sunshine, out of the front of the building while continuing to run their bookkeeping business out of the rear. For the first five years, they also handled the catalogue sales centre for Sears, but they dropped that in 2002.
It’s just another example of how thoroughly Dawson folks are into recycling.
Next week – The Ice Bridge