Sam McGee's CabinPublished by Webmaster on 09/01/2003 (39886 reads)
The old picture of Sam McGee's cabin brings back fond memories for me. This photo shows the cabin located on Elliot Street between third and fourth avenues in Whitehorse before it was moved to its present site at the MacBride Museum. When I was going to school at the Lambert Street schoolhouse one street over from Elliot, I used to walk by the cabin on the daily basis. I would be roughly the same age as the kids in the picture. One a spring day as I walked by the cabin, an old man in a grey flannel suit was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch. He said hello lad, what's your name. I told him. He said his name was Sam McGee.
The poetic license of Robert Service made Sam McGee famous as a prospector from Tennessee who could never get warm in the Yukon. However the real Sam McGee came from Ontario via San Francisco to the Yukon in 1898. The following year he settled into this rustic log cabin. Known as a "roadhouse king," McGee operated lodgings at Canyon Creek, 80 miles north of Whitehorse. He was also a miner, a teamster, a sawmill operator and a leading road builder. McGee left the Yukon in 1909 and only returned for a brief prospecting trip in 1938.
Service lifted the name of Sam McGee from the bank ledger. He never lived down the story of the poem. He never sued Service but did move his account from the Bank of Commerce to the Bank of British North America. Service knew the real Sam only slightly.
The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) acquired and renovated the cabin in 1940. In 1954 they gave it to the Yukon Historical Society and the cabin was moved to its present site on the MacBride Museum Grounds.
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