Contrary to Robert Service's famous poem, McGee was not from Tennessee although he was an early Whitehorse pioneer. William Samuel McGee was born on August 28, 1867 in Peterborough, Ontario. He travelled to Whitehorse in 1898, attracted by the news of the Klondike gold Strikes. McGee stalked one of the first claims on the Whitehorse Copper Belt in 1899, the War Eagle. He was an entrepreneur of many talents; he built roads, operated a sawmill, constructed a bridge and ran a roadhouse.
In 1899, McGee moved into this cabin on Wood Street near Fifth Avenue. He and his wife, Ruth lived there from 1900 until they left the North in 1909. The McGees later lived in British Columbia, Alberta and Montana. McGee paid one final visit to the Yukon in 1938, two years before his death at age 72. One of McGee's friends was a bank teller named Robert Service. Service liked the name Sam McGee and asked permission to use it in a poem he was writing. The poem was the one we all know as The Cremation of Sam McGee which immortalized McGee.
In 1940, the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire acquired and renovated the cabin. The building was donated to the Yukon Historical Society in 1954 and moved to its present location in 1961. The structure is missing its interior partitions and additions, making it look more rustic than it would have when the McGee family lived here.
MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse