Burns Building

Building Location: 

104 Main Street

Whitehorse, YT

Location Context: 

Located within the first block of Main Street, the P.A. Burns & Co. building occupied a significant site in the commercial core of early 1900’s Whitehorse.


Two-storey Retail and Office Building

Architectural History: 

It is a rough timber two-storey frame building. Originally, it had 1-1/2′ walls filled with cork and sawdust. The building size was 30’x 50′; and it had a partial basement. 

The building has had several additions over the years. One is to the west face of building. Another is the addition of the false front in 1928. Finally in 1969 the building went through a conversion including office floors, partitions, windows, and shed roof.

Cultural History: 

The Burns Meat Company came to the Yukon in 1898, when it was contracted to deliver beef to miners during the gold rush. Cattle were sent by boat from Vancouver, then driven inland, slaughtered and floated to Dawson on the Yukon River. 

P.A. Burns & Co. constructed their first building on Main Street and a slaughterhouse in the Moccasin Flats area following the completion of the W.P. & Y.R. railway in 1900. The Main Street building was destroyed in a 1905 fire and a second building was completed a few months later and was used as a retail store only. Animals were delivered to the slaughterhouse, on the hoof, via a railroad spur line. By the 1920’s meat arrived already slaughtered and frozen, transported by refrigerated rail cars. The Whitehorse abattoir ceased operations. 

The upper floor of the building was used, at one time, as the Moose Lodge meeting room. It was sold in 1969 and converted for use as office and retail space. 

T.C. Richards came to work for P.A. Burns & Co. around 1920 as a labourer in the slaughterhouse. Shortly after, in 1921, he was promoted to manager of retail operations. 

Gordon Armstrong became retail manager after T.C. Richards. Armstrong became mayor of Whitehorse in 1950.