Description of Historic Place
Situated on a once bustling intersection, the Bank of British North America is located in the Dawson City Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada. It is a two-storey timber structure, with a white-painted corrugated metal exterior, and features a pedimented gable roof, overhanging eaves and regularly placed windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Bank of British North America is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Bank of British North America is one of the best examples of a structure illustrating the development of financial services in the North. The Bank of British North America was the first banking institution established in Dawson in May 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush. The structure was built as a combination bank, dormitory, assay office, and general office. The Bank is also associated with Alex McDonald, the ‘King of the Klondike’ who directed his numerous mining and real estate ventures from the general office within the building. Dawson metamorphosed from a boisterous mining camp in 1897-1898, to a boomtown in 1898-1899 when the bank was constructed and then into a prosperous and respectable community by 1901.
The Bank demonstrates good aesthetic design in its neo-classical treatment. Details of note include the triangular-shaped pediments, the regular placement of windows and the corner balcony on slender turned columns. The building also exhibits a very good functional design whereby the plan was easily adapted to fulfil the many requirements of an expanding population. The traditional arrangement of the interior was typical of many corner blocks that once dominated the Dawson business district.
The Bank of British North America reinforces the present character of Dawson City and is a familiar landmark to residents and visitors.
Sources: Bank of British North America, 995 Second Avenue, Dawson City, Yukon, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report - Notes 88-012; Bank of British North America, Queen Street, Southwest Corner Second Avenue, Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Heritage Character Statement 88-012.
The following character-defining elements of the Bank of British North America should be respected.
Its Neo-Classical architectural treatment, and very good functional design, for example:
- the two-storey massing;
- the pedimented gable roof, the circular ventilator piercing the pediment, and the overhanging eaves;
- the Neo-Classical architectural treatment of the elevations with regularly placed windows;
- the details such as the ornate, Victorian-style front doors set into the salient angle, and the overhanging corner balcony supported on slender, turned porch columns;
- the arrangement of the interior with a principal ground floor retail space that is served by a double door, and a narrow secondary retail space served by a single door on Queen Street;
- the interior partitioning and finishes.
The manner in which the British Bank of North America reinforces the present character of the setting of the historic district and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its ongoing historic relationship to the lot lines, the boardwalk, the adjacent structures and streetscape;
- its materials, detailing, and the treatment of the facades, which visually unify the bank with the adjacent structures;
- its familiarity to the residents of Dawson and to visitors of the National Historic Site of Canada.