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Case Study: Dawson City Museum Timeline, 1950s and earlier

Last updated: January 24, 2022

As part of the Dawson City Museum Project, I am creating timelines of the Museum’s development in relation to government policy and community action (1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s).

Museum Operations

Government Policy

First Nation (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in)

In the late 1800s, an increased number of people associated with the Klondike Gold Rush began settling the Tr’ochëk, displacing the Hän speaking Indigenous peoples. Chief Isaac moved his people to Moosehide.

Importantly, Chief Isaac also sent the gänhäk (dancing stick) to relatives in Tanacross village in Alaska. These relatives kept sacred songs and dances safe during a period of uncertainty for Hän speaking peoples from the Tr’ochëk (Council of Yukon First Nations; Stories North; Tr’ondëk Heritage).



Importantly, the museum is now housed in a historic building – the Old Territorial Administration building.

Dawson City Museum

Designed by Thomas Fuller in 1899 and built in 1901, the site is significant because of its association with the 1896 Gold Rush and subsequent settlement in the territory. It was the site of federal and territorial action until 1953.


Community Action

The 1896 Gold Rush is of particular importance to the development of both Dawson City and its museum. For more information about the Klondike Gold Rush, check out this Canadian Encyclopedia article.

When Dawson City ceased to be the capital of the Yukon (due in large part to the Alaskan Highway), attention to the tourism industry increased. Members of the community felt they had to draw tourists to survive (Stuart 1990).


Do you know of any important milestones that are missing?

Would any of the entries benefit from more information or links to additional resources?


Where possible, I have linked to sources. The following are references that are not currently available online:

Dawson City Museum & Historical Society. 1988. “1988 DCM History.” Box 14. Dawson City Museum Corporate Documents. Dawson City Museum Archives, Dawson City. 

Taylor, C.J. 1990. Negotiating the past: The making of Canada’s National Historic Parks and Sites. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

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