It was a day for celebration in Whitehorse back in March of 1951. But for the people of Dawson City, it was a black day not soon to be forgotten.
The news came by way of a telegram from Yukon Member of Parliament Aubrey Simmons. On March 12, 1951, the federal government announced that Whitehorse would become the new capital of the Yukon. Dawson City residents were none too pleased with the prospect.
A new federal building would be constructed at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Main Street - the site of the town’s ball diamond. To make matters worse in Dawson, the federal government said the National Employment office there would be closed, and business out of that office would also be moved to Whitehorse.
However, the move would take some time. Office space and accommodation had to be found for the new territorial administration. Whitehorse officially became the capital a little more than two years later, on April 1st, 1953.
The first session of the wholly elected territorial council was held on April 8th, 1953. The councilors included Alex Hayes of Carmacks, Vincent Mellor of Dawson, Alec Berry of Mayo, John Phelps of Whitehorse east and Fred Locke of Whitehorse west.
What kind of business was on the agenda? Well, Alec Berry said public works might not be able to do any road work because of the poor condition of the equipment. Vincent Mellor urged completion of the Dawson road. Fred Locke said the territory needed more money from Ottawa, because taxation in the Yukon was at the limit.
Well, the Dawson road was eventually completed; public works equipment was updated; Ottawa sent more money; and taxes continued to grow.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.