Hougen Group

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Exterior view of the St. Mary's Hospital and the Roman Catholic Church in Dawson. Date: 1901. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #4715.

Father Judge

He was known by everyone as the saint of Dawson. When he died in 1899, after only two years in the bustling gold-rush town, his impact on the people of that gold-mad town was so great that everything came to a standstill.

Father William Judge was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1850. He was educated as an architect, but later joined the Jesuits and became a priest. He began his northern ministry in Alaska before the Klondike gold rush.

He was in the 40-mile district of the Yukon when news of Klondike gold reached the outside world. During the "hunger winter" of 1897-98, Father Judge packed his sled with medical supplies and other essential and headed for Dawson.

Here he combined his medical, spiritual and architectural abilities to build both a church and St. Mary's hospital. The church was opened in September of 1898. When it burned down, Catholics and non-Catholics alike pitched in to help Father Judge build a new one.

The Klondike Nugget wrote glowingly about Father Judge and his hospital saying neither religious belief or skin colour mattered when it came to treatment of the sick or injured.

When he died in January of 1899, his church, St. Marys, was overflowing with mourners. Many houses were shrouded in black and the saloons and shops in Dawson were closed for the day. Father Judge, the saint of Dawson City, was just 49 years old.

 

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin