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Major Fire at Carcross, Yukon Territory, 1909

An Explorer's Guide to Carcross, Yukon

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Weekly Star (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory), December 31, 1909

Fire at Carcross - Caribou Hotel, Two Stores and Railway Depot Burned

    At 3:10 o'clock last Friday afternoon, Christmas eve, fire was discovered in the attic of the Caribou hotel at Carcross and as there is no fire protection there all the buildings in that immediate vicinity were smouldering ruins within one hour - the hotel in which building was located Frank McPhee's general merchandise store, the railroad depot in which was located the customs house, and the grocery store of George Fickhardt, all were wiped off the face of the earth.

    When discovered the fire was beyond control and there was nothing to do but save the movable goods from the doomed buildings. From the hotel practically all the bar stock, pool tables, big heating stove, kitchen and dining room furniture were saved. But Mr. and Mrs. Gideon who were conducting the hotel under a five years lease which began the first of last September, saved, of their personal effects, only the clothes on their backs, the latter's seal-skin coat and a few trinkets in the way of jewelry.

    From the stores, especially that of Mr. Fickhardt, the majority of the stock was saved. Mr. Gideon visited Whitehorse Monday night and his estimate of the losses are as follows:

    Caribou hotel building and furniture, the property of the estate of the late Dawson Charley, $8,000.

    Hotel supplies such as groceries, meat, flour, milk etc., $1,500.

    Frank McPhee, general merchandise stock, $1,400.

    George Fickhardt, groceries, fruit etc., including the store building, $1,200.

    Depot building owned by White Pass Railroad company, fixtures etc., $4,000.

    R. Lowe & Co, goods stored in depot, $400.

    In the customs room all the papers, documents, furniture and two valuable mounted moose heads, the latter the personal property of Deputy Collector Leo Simmons, were destroyed but the monetary loss there had not been reported.

    The Japanese cook at the Caribou hotel lost $175 in cash and all his other effects.

    Several roomers at the hotel also lost clothes and other property. The hotel piano was among the things saved.

    Fortunately for Depot Agent J. H. Fickhardt, he had moved from over the depot into his own house only a few days before.

    All Carcross turned out and everybody assisted in the work of saving the contents of the doomed building. None of the property lost was insured.

    The origin of the fire is a mystery as Alex Chisholm and others who got immediately over it on the roof in the early stage say there was no fire within several feet of the stovepipe which ran through the attic from the dining room. Owing to the mild weather, only a smouldering fire had been in the dining room that day.

    All those burned out have already resumed business. The Gideons are caring for their guests in Colonel Conrad's big house, the bar will be reopened in a tent, McPhee and Fickhardt are both doing business in temporary quarters, the section house is being used by the railroad people as a depot and the customs office is in the same building. It is said the company will not erect a depot before spring. Just what the others will do in the line of rebuilding is not yet known.

    At the time of the fire there was not a breath of wind blowing which accounts for the fact that the fire was contained to the buildings in the immediate vicinity of where it started.