“We think it was originally an army wash house,” Lee Nunn informs me as we discuss 410 Ogilvie Street.
Pete McCracken, carpenter extraordinaire, responsible for many of the renovations, agrees.
In the areas he renovated, McCracken saw evidence of a number of urinals and toilets. There were markings on the plywood sub floor when McCracken changed flooring.
He could see where the sinks and shower stalls had been located. There would have been washing facilities for a number of people in the house. Nunn thinks it might have been located somewhere else as a wash house before it was moved to Ogilvie and changed into a home.
Nunn believes the house was a prefab originally flown in during the war by the army. The house has seven-foot ceilings because eight-foot walls would not have fit in the cargo hold of the aircraft.
When the prefab unit was moved onto this present site, a basement was hand dug. The basement this created was cribbed up with old bridge decking.
When the house was placed on the bridge decking, it wasn’t quite level. Even today, the bathroom door will swing open unless you shut it securely; the bedroom door will swing closed unless you prop it open.
The floors are solid, though, it’s just that the whole house slopes toward the back.
McCracken explained these building supplies: the army built wooden bridges here during and after the war. When these structures needed replacing, the government dismantled the bridges and gathered all of the usable material in a central location. People needing building supplies could come to see what was there and take away what they needed.
The house changed hands a number of times in the early 1970s. Byng Uttley, now living in Thailand, bought it 35 years ago from Larry Chalifour. Uttley owned it and rented it out for a few years before selling it to Hoss Lafleur.
Lee and Gloria Nunn bought the property – a 100 foot by 150 foot lot – with the house in 1998. They love its location. “It is close to everything, but dead quiet at night,” Lee claims.
After the 1998 purchase, Lee renovated a portion of the house to create office space for his tax business. Then, in 2008, he purchased a house next door for his business.
More renovations occurred creating a hair salon at the front of the house where Gloria now operates her salon – Gloria’s Slickers Hair Design. A cozy place, with two salon chairs and the equipment needed for cutting and styling hair, is located at the front of the building. Lee and Gloria live in the rear of the house.
I think it is particularly fitting for the abode to house a salon. The walls of the house no doubt remember a time past when toilets flushed and showers flowed. The walls remember soap and water from long ago and enjoy the fragrance of shampoo and water today.
Nellie Dale writes regularly about unique buildings and heritage features in Whitehorse. This is part of an ongoing series on some of the people memorialized by benches along the Millennium Trail.