It may seem hard to believe, but the school managed by the Sisters of Saint Anne really did save the Yukon. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the Government of Canada was looking to reduce its spending. To this end, it suggested that British Columbia merge with the Yukon to extend to the Beaufort Sea in the north.
British Columbia was willing and the agreement was about to be signed when the province’s leaders realized that the 1898 Yukon Territory Act stipulated that Catholic education would be entirely funded by the territory.
At the time, the St. Mary’s School in Dawson was the only Catholic school in the territory. Were the Yukon to merge with British Columbia, there was a good likelihood that all Catholic learning institutions in the province would demand the same rights as the Yukon school. The project was therefore abandoned and the Yukon retained its territory status.
Photo: The church, the hospital and probably St. Mary’s School, 1901
Photo credit: Collection H.C. Barley, Yukon Archives, # 4715