The Taylor House
The Taylor House
The Taylor House
Personal Account by Marilyn Taylor
Taylor House, Whitehorse, Yukon
‘The Old House’ at 412 Main Street brings back happy memories and stories to me, my children, and grandchildren each time we drive by or reminisce.
My father, William (Bill) Taylor, born in 1909, was the eldest son of Isaac and Sarah Drury Taylor. He was active in the family mercantile company founded by his father and uncle in 1898 which expanded to 13 branches throughout the territory and a General Motors dealership. My mother, Aline Arbour Cyr came to the Yukon at the age of six with her brother and recently-widowed mother and were among the early francophones in Whitehorse. Bill and Aline were married in the Old Log Church in 1935.
In 1937, they bought two lots (100 x 100) from White Pass & Yukon Route situated at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street on “the edge of town.” Now the house sits in the heart of downtown Whitehorse. Main Street had a horse wagon trail beyond 4th Avenue, and Bill cut out the lane in the block and built a sidewalk, those tasks being the responsibility of the owner.
In May of 1937 Bill and Aline cut down trees about 10 miles from downtown Whitehorse. Late one evening, they were notified of a bush fire where the logs were situated. With the help of Aline’s brother, they loaded logs on a one-ton truck, making many trips from the bush to town. The logs were stacked for drying on their two lots, and in August they were ready for building. The basement was dug with horses and scrapers. All lumber was purchased through White Pass, and other materials, fixtures and furniture were purchased through the family business, Taylor & Drury Ltd.
After electricity, a well, septic system, and a wood furnace were installed, Bill and Aline moved in and did much of the work on the house themselves. With Bill working at Taylor & Drury, they had only Sundays and weekday evenings available to work on the house. In 1946, the house was raised, and a full-size concrete basement was added. This included a large rumpus room where family and friends could gather. The Taylors also provided this room to the United Church of Canada for Sunday School for a few years until the church was built. In 1950, the second floor was completed, housing 2 bedrooms, bathroom, and study for their son and daughter.
The yard originally was kept natural with granite spread from the Pueblo Mine area. Poppies grew wildly throughout the pines and spruces. The lots were fully fenced and were a popular pastime for the children in the neighborhood to see how many times they could crawl around the horizontal railing on their knees and no hands without falling off. Bill planted a blue spruce in the front yard and was always decorated with blue and green lights for the Christmas season.
In 1969, due to the expansion of business and traffic, they sold the house to the Yukon Chamber of Mines who occupied it until they sold it to the Yukon Government in 1997. The interior of the house has been renovated to house the Yukon Heritage Resources Board, but the exterior has changed very little since its construction. It continues to provide a view of historic Whitehorse to visitors.