Archival Documents

Dawson City Post Office fonds

Creation Date(s): 1922-1979

Physical Description:
70 cm textual records. - 1 block of stamps, 3 postcards with cancellation stamps, 1 photograph, and other philatelic records

Bio Sketch / Admin History:

Unofficial postal service began in Dawson City in 1896. The first post office consisted of a canvas wall tent on Front Street, from which members of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) distributed mail.

In 1897 the Canadian government asked Frank Harper to assume the role of postmaster, with the NWMP acting as his staff. At this time, the post office moved to Fort Herchmer in the Government Reserve.

The volume of mail increased dramatically in 1898 as the bulk of the Klondike stampeders reached Dawson City. The government acquired a saloon owned by James Terry to compliment the Fort Herchmer facilities.

The post office relocated again during the summer of 1898, this time to one of Alex McDonald’s buildings on Front Street. This building was destroyed by fire on October 14th, 1898. Around the same time, a new government appointed postmaster, Isaac J. Hartman, arrived in Dawson to improve the postal service. The government then leased the Brewery Saloon before finally committing federal funding toward the design and construction of an official post office in 1899. Government architect, Thomas W. Fuller, designed the building for the corner of Third Avenue and King Street. It opened in November 1900.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mail was delivered to and from Dawson by canoes and steamers in the summer, and by dog teams during the winter. The NWMP was responsible for winter mail freighting until 1899 when the government contracted-out mail delivery to private express companies.

Following the completion of the Overland Trail in 1902 stage coaches succeeded dog teams as the primary means of transporting mail between Dawson City and Whitehorse. Over the next decades, trucks and caterpillar tractors in-turn replaced horse transportation, and the last Royal Mail stage ran in 1921. Private airmail carriers operated between Whitehorse and Dawson as early as 1927, but there was no official government airmail until 1937.

Postal services in Dawson City were conducted in the post office on Third and King Street until 1924. At that time the post office moved to the Old Territorial Administration Building on Fifth Avenue. In ca. 1960 the post office relocated to a new federal building on Fifth Avenue near Queen Street, where it remained until a new post office opened on Third Avenue in January 2002.

Past postmasters of the Dawson City Post Office were:

Frank Harper 1897-1898
Isaac J. Hartmann 1898-1913
Alexander McCarter 1913-1931
James X. Johnstone 1931-1943
Ewart Charles Burt 1943-1949
Mr. T. Byers 1949-1954
D.A. Mackie 1954-1956 (acting)
D. A. Mackie 1956-1958
Stanley Harvey King 1958-1959 (acting)
Stanley Harvey King 1959-1960
Richard Arnold Berg 1960-1961 (acting)
Frank Lidstone 1961-1962 (acting)
Frank Lidstone 1962- [19-]
Allan Gould [19-] - 1979
Lambert Curzon 1979-2007

Scope and Content:

This fonds consists of correspondence and operational records created and accumulated by the Dawson City Post Office, as well as records pertaining to postal services in Clinton Creek, Old Crow, Granville, Glacier Creek and Stewart Island.

The records were created between 1922 and 1998, (1952-1977 predominant) and reflect the work of the Dawson City postmaster and clerks, as well as the relationship between the Dawson City post office and several smaller postal offices in the Yukon.

Documents in the fonds include: correspondence, memoranda, circulars, freight ledgers, registered mail ledgers, mailbox receipt books, forwarding address ledgers, contracts, inspection papers, balance sheets, audits, attendance records, employee files, and souvenir philatelic records (Klondike Centennial and Dempster Highway stamps and memorabilia).

Accession Number(s): 1983.120, 1994.1 (TD 198), 1998.21 (TD 509),

Dawson City Museum is located in the Old Territorial Administration Building at 595 Fifth Avenue.
Phone: 867-993-5291 • Fax: 867-993-5839 • E-Mail: