Yukon Nuggets

  • Army Fire Service RCE, Dowel Area,Whitehorse Frontrow (from L to R ): Bill (Red) Weigand, Lt. Gillespie, Chief Dunlop, Major Paris, Phil Baily, Reg Walsh Backrow (from L to R): ?, Fred McLaughlin, Earl Jensen, Donald MacDonald, Stan Walsh, Stan Wilcox, Lo

  • Fire Hall (across from 98 Hotel) Yukon Archives. Yukon Historical Museums Association #6.

  • Old Fire Hall. Yukon Archives. Yukon Historical Museums Association #12.

1967 Yukon Nuggets

Whitehorse Firehalls


Walking around the streets of Whitehorse can be an interesting and informative experience. You just need to take a little time. Sure, life moves at a rapid pace these days. Slow down and head down to Front Street and Main.

Stop and look at the finely restored first - well almost first - Whitehorse firehall. It was built at this location after much talk about whether the town needed a fire department at all. That was back in 1900. Well, the town did need a firehall and, finally, it was built in 1901. Four years later it burned in the great Whitehorse fire of 1905.

The White Pass station right next door went up in flames, as did most of the business district. Although much of the town was destroyed, the firehall partially survived the fire. Ironically, the volunteer fire department had just received its new firefighting equipment the day before, but the fire engine broke down after only a few minutes of operation. Yep, the town needed a fire department, but it also now needed a new building with better equipment.

The second firehall was built shortly afterwards on the same site and was part of the Yukon Electric power plant. It had a second floor that was used to house the volunteer staff.

Amazingly, until the town bought a real fire truck in 1942, the fire department operated a two-wheeled hose cart. It consisted of a long hose that drew water from the Yukon River by an electric pump. The fire department also used a chemical engine, which consisted of a hose attached to a 40-gallon tank containing chemicals. When the tank was tipped, the chemicals mixed and created a gas, thus forcing water through the hose.

Whitehorse hit the big time in 1943 when the town hired a full time fire chief and two assistants. That year a firehall was built on Wheeler Street near the present day Whitehorse Elementary School .

Although it was built to serve the Dowell Construction Camp working on the Alaska Highway, it served the downtown area as well. The Canadian Army took over this firehall in 1945, and worked with the town fire department by providing two additional trucks, twenty paid staff, and an ambulance service. Both my Dad and brother Fred were firefighters and worked at this long-gone building. So was the former Mayor of Whitehorse, Bill Weigand.

In 1962, the Army moved its firehall to Camp Takhini, and the city had to increase its own staff and buy a second fire truck. The Takhini firehall was then turned over to Department of Public Works and, eventually, to the Whitehorse fire department.



The present Whitehorse firehall, next to the City offices, was opened during Canada’s centennial year in 1967.




A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.