The Old Firehall

History

History of the Old Fire Hall

Present

The Old Fire Hall is a Heritage Building owned by the Yukon Government. This unique project combines the resources and leadership of the Yukon Government, Department of Tourism and Culture, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Arts Centre. This three way partnership has made a beautifully renovated downtown venue available for a wide range of arts, culture and community events.

Beginning in the summer of 2007 with a Pilot Project, the Yukon Arts Centre was given the opportunity to draw this former fire hall that was languishing in possibilities back into play for the benefit of Whitehorse residents, tourists and our rural neighbours.

The Old Fire Hall is a unique space for arts and cultural events, offering flexible set up capabilities, efficient, centralized location and a beautiful esthetic leading to a wide array of presentatuion possibilities. Combined with the Yukon Arts Centre's technical and production skills, the OFH offers renters and audiences memorable experiences.

Over three and a half years, the OFH has built a solid foundation of renters and presentations by the Yukon Arts Centre to the degree that we are now booking 1-2 months in advance, and sometimes longer for weekends. So, if you have an event idea you'd like to present, don't hesitate or it could be too late!

Past

October 1901: The completion of the very first Fire Hall in Whitehorse at this present location. It was operated on a volunteer basis, and existed to protect the wooden buildings of the newly emerging city. At the time, it was viewed as a waste of time and money by local citizens and after four years of operation, was slated to be dismantled.

May 1905: The Great Whitehorse Fire began in a barbershop, and tore through the downtown-causing $300 000 in damages and burning many structures to their foundations...including the Fire Hall. In an ironic twist, the Fire Hall had just taken receipt of a new firetruck that was to replace the horse drawn carriage that pumped water from the river. Lack of training on the new equipment, and inexperience fighting such a huge blaze contributed to the destruction. As the city began to rebuild, the Yukon Electrical Company agreed to share building space with the firehall and built a generator plant.

February 1935: A second fire burned itself into Fire Hall history when sparks from a boiler ignited a blaze that damaged the hose-drying tower and roof of the building. This time, the Fire Hall was repaired omitting the tower and incorporating a new gable roof. The original tower bell now resides in the MacBride Museum yard.

1948: The Fire Hall on 1st Avenue was decommissioned, and the building functioned as a garage for the Yukon Electrical Company as well as an upstairs apartment. Whitehorse's growing population including Armed Forces from USA and Canada increased demand for fire protection and led to numerous Fire Halls being built around the town.

1967: The currently operating Fire Hall on 2nd Avenue was built as part of the Community Centennial Project.

2011: The City of Whitehorse will open its new Public Safety Building at the top of Two Mile Hill at Range Road.

Over the years, the Old Fire Hall acted as a warehouse for various items, continued to have a second story dwelling, and was recently used as the Volunteer Headquarters for the 2007 Canada Winter Games.

For more information, the Yukon Archives and the Hougen Collection feature many amazing photographs of the downtown including various incarnations of the Old Fire Hall. Check them out!