Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

(Top photo) WHITEHORSE 1912 shows police barracks (bottom), Sacred Heart church (lower left) and North Star Athletic Association building in its location at the corner of Third and Main. The N.S.A.A. hall opened onto Third avenue and the bowling and curling annexes were to the north of the building, unseen in the photograph. Hamacher photo/ Yukon Archives. (Bottom photo) AMERICAN ARMY ambulances stand by and a large crowd watches the N.S.A.A. hall burn to the ground on December 16, 1942. The hall was being used as a temporary hospital by the American Army when it caught fire. Paul Vergon Coll./Yukon Archives.

NSAA Burns

The North Star Athletic Association lasted 60 years in Whitehorse, then died November 8, 1963 as it had been created; by an ordinance passed at Yukon Territorial Council session.

By Whitehorse Star on November 8, 1963

Whitehorse Star, 1942


N.S.A.A. LASTED 60 YEARS. The North Star Athletic Association lasted 60 years in Whitehorse, then died November 8, 1963 as it had been created; by an ordinance passed at Yukon Territorial Council session.

Once the centre of community social life, the organization was described in legal terms as having "no function and no assets." Very few residents of Whitehorse remember it anymore and its passing from the civic picture affected few.

But to a few old-timers like Charlie Taylor, its name brought back memories of attending his first "movie". The theatre was upstairs, away from the wickedly fascinating "lounge" opening off the hallway, where the club was licensed to sell "spirituous wines," and the men played cards.

Mr. Taylor remembers that the second floor also contained kitchen facilities and a banquet hall that could hold 45 to 50 people and there was a balcony that overlooked the main hall and stage.

FEDERAL SITE The building was located on the corner of Third and Main, roughly where the gold miner statue in front of the Elijah Smith Building now stands.

The hall faced Third Avenue, and behind it, taking in the remainder of the block up to Fourth Ave. and between Main and Steele Streets, was the fenced in ball park and tennis courts. Mr. Taylor recalls that the tennis courts were flooded in the winter for skating and hockey.

In an annex, adjoining the building to the north were the bowling lanes which were first used in July 1908. The Athletic Association was proud of the fact that the bowling "plant" had been purchased new from Chicago.

In 1909, a curling rink was built on the grounds at Third and Steele. The 138 foot rink was enclosed by a tarpaulin 150 feet x 18 feet and heated by a wood stove.

Robert W. Service was secretary of the N.S.A.A. while working in the Bank of Commerce at Whitehorse in 1905–06, and the minutes may be seen at the MacBride Museum.

Among the first of his literary efforts in the north was an original recitation called "New Years Eve" which he presented at a N.S.A.A. Hall St. Patrick's day concert in 1906. It was so well received that the young poet was encouraged to continue wooing the muse, which he did, much to the benefit of himself and succeeding generations of readers.

The Hall served as the very center of sports for Whitehorse at the turn of the century, especially in the winter, with a large gymnasium inside for handball, basketball, and of all things, indoor baseball.

Indoor baseball was played the same as outdoor baseball except the larger, soft, baseball was allowed to bounce of the walls of the gym.

"Indoor baseball is now the rage in Whitehorse," reported the STAR in Nov. 1906, "Tomorrow night the B.Y.N. and Civil Service teams will meet in combat and as there is bad blood extant a very hotly contested game may be expected.

It is really feared the bat may slip a few times before the game is over... The gallery will be reserved tonight for ladies and their escorts, the front seats being reserved for the ladies."

Popular weekly dances had occasioned the installation of a new "spring" floor in January 1905.

After it had been "planed smooth and oiled" a Star article warned that "the rheumatic who attempts any funny business on it in the way of pigeon wings or double back–action breakdowns, will do well if he retains his equilibrium."

FLOURISHING PERIOD It would seem that the N.S.A.A. had its most flourishing period from its incorporation in 1903 until the years of the First Great War. Then Yukoners went overseas and Whitehorse dwindled to a very small town.

The slump lasted for a long time, with occasional flurries of activity at the N.S.A.A. until the big boom arrived with the American construction workers.

The old hall which was being used for storage, became a temporary hospital for the American Army after they arrived in Whitehorse. When it burned on December 18, 1942 an insurance policy paid off about $4,000.

Mr. Taylor recalls that a group of local citizens combined the insurance money with war bond sales commissions, and managed to put together enough money to build the first Whitehorse Arena building at Second and Rogers (which has since been demolished to make way for the Sport Art Administration Building).

ONLY MEMORIES LEFT Records on file in the office of the registrar of Joint Stock Companies in Whitehorse, show the last balance sheet of the N.S.A.A. was filed in 1958 – there are no funds, no assets. Nothing but fading memories.

Accordingly, on November 8, 1963, at 10:30 in the morning, Bill Number Four, Ordinance to repeal an Ordinance to incorporate the North Star Athletic Association, Limited, was given third and final reading on the floor of the House and passed for Commissioner's assent.

Another link with the past in Whitehorse was severed.

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