Historic house destroyed by mistake

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2002

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - A territorial ombudsman is investigating the destruction of the Sewell House, a historic Whitehorse building.

Last month, city work crews demolished the 99-year-old Sewell House, one of four historic homes in the Shipyards area of the Yukon's capital city. The neighborhood is along the Yukon River and one of the oldest sections of the community.

While the house had not been designated a municipal historic site, it was being considered as part of the development of Shipyards Park.

The home was built about 1903 by John Sewell, a well-known Whitehorse merchant and woodcutter. It later belonged to Frank Slim, considered the first and only Yukon Native sternwheeler pilot and captain in the Yukon.

City officials have continuously said the demolition was an accident based on a miscommunication between two departments. They also say workers involved in the demolition did not realize the historic significance of the house.

Afterward, heritage signs were placed on the remaining houses to ensure the same mistake would not be made.

City Councilor Samson Hartland contends the demolition was a result of actions pushed by Mayor Ernie Bourassa, Councilor Duke Connelly and city staff who want more waterfront development.

Ombudsman Hank Moorlag said it will be left up to the city to make public the results of the investigation.

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