Coming Home: 509 Strickland

In 2008 my sisters and I travelled to Ireland. We were looking for “Grandma’s house” and the “Dale Castle”.

One afternoon in Dublin our taxi cab driver delivered us to 120 Tritonville Road – a posh part of town, he said. We stood together at the front door and he took our picture. The cab driver loved our story about coming to Ireland to find Grandma’s house.

Another day we travelled to Tandragee in Northern Ireland to visit the “Dale Castle”. Family legend had us owning a castle and the land it stood upon.

The present owner of the castle, Tayto – a potato chip factory, no less – uses the castle for office space, while a manufacturing plant is attached. The manager of the plant was extremely interested in our Dale castle history.

I loved visiting and listening to Barbara Studds’ story of a family member coming home to “the house Dad built”. Similar to my Irish sojourn, it touches my heart.

The Studds family bought the house at 509 Strickland from friends in 1990. Studds remembers she loved the house right from the start.

One 1996 day, Studds recalls, a lady came up the sidewalk and knocked on the door. She wanted to see the house. She was quite proud of her father’s accomplishment.

Lise Guilbeault-Axelrod’s father, Gaston A Guilbeault, built the house in 1947. Guilbeault-Axelrod had pictures of the house as well as the Tax Notice dated March 31, 1950.

The tax total? $15, payable at the office of Collector of Taxes and Licences for the unincorporated Town of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. It is signed G. R. Bidlake.

An old bill of sale showed the house was sold in 1952 to T. C. Jansen for $5800.

I wrote to Guilbeault-Axelrod at the Québec address Studds gave me, but my letter came back “moved; no forwarding address”. Like my ancestors in Ireland, people move on, make new homes in new places.

The house was sold to the Yukon Fish and Game Association in the spring of 2010. The Association has replaced the wood floor in the living room and built outside ramps.

Other than those renovations, the house is as the Studds’ left it. The flooring is a combination of carpet, wood and linoleum. There are four bedrooms and a big kitchen.

I spoke to Gord Zealand at the Yukon Fish & Game Association. The association is interested in renovations and has looked into a historical designation for the house. The house, Zealand told me, is just two years younger than the association itself!

Zealand showed me the minutes of the first meeting of the association, dated 1945. The oldest current member of the association is Alex Van Bibber, who joined in 1946 or 1947.

Ah, the history of this association is a story for another day.

Coming north to Whitehorse or going home to Ireland, Guilbeault-Axelrod and I share a love of family history. Imagining a dad or grandpa or aunt living in another time and a very different place than we live today, brings family history alive.

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