Arctic Brotherhood Hall
Arctic Brotherhood Hall
The Arctic Brotherhood hall is designated for its historic, cultural, architectural and social significance.
The historical and cultural value of the site relates to its association with the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush and with the Arctic Brotherhood. The Arctic Brotherhood was a fraternal social organization established in February 1899, for men residing in the northwest section of North America. Camp No. 4 of the Arctic Brotherhood was established in Dawson City in November 1899 and rapidly grew in membership to necessitate the construction of a new Arctic Brotherhood Fraternity Hall. Completed in October 1901, the Hall was constructed in three weeks using financial contributions from its members. At its opening, the hall was touted as the largest and grandest building not only in Dawson but in the entire northwest.
Thomas Firth, the founder of a successful Dawson insurance company and the father of the first mayor Dawson, Howard Firth, was a partial owner of the building from 1911-1929. The family insurance company continues to this day. In 1925, after the Arctic Brotherhood ceased to exist, the building served as a community hall. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles moved into the building in 1929 after their building burned and stayed until 1943, when the Dawson aerie was disbanded.
The Arctic Brotherhood Hall is one of few remaining buildings from the early 1900s in the Downtown Transitional Heritage Area. Its vernacular architecture is typical of Dawson for this time period and consists of a two storey frame building with coved siding and a metal gable roof with decorative brackets supporting a wide eave on the front façade and a small vented cupola along the ridgeline. The primary façade’s asymmetrical fenestration of the original building is punctuated with a second storey open balcony with a pedimented gable roof, square pilasters and posts, and geometric railings. By the 1920s two small windows were added on either side of the pediment, more recently they were converted to vents with a third one added above the apex of the gable of the pediment. By the 1920s, a shed roofed addition was added on the south wall. It was enlarged in the 1930s, and again in the early 1980s and in the mid-1990s, providing additional space and housing the main access to the building. Another small addition was added to the north wall by 2010.
The social values of the site are demonstrated through the building’s continued use for community events and celebrations. In 1967, it was renovated and renamed the Centennial Hall. In 1973, it was re-purposed as Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, Canada’s first legal gambling hall. Its present use reflects on the wilder social life in Dawson in the early 1900s and continues to serve as a community gathering space during the winter months.