June 2005 Update

Not Only Gold

The society had numerous projects on the go during the spring of 2005, as we drive towards establishing the NWT's long-awaited mining museum. 

George Hunter Photo Exhibit: The NWT Mining Heritage Society worked closely with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Society to acquire and display the George Hunter Photo Exhibit titled "Not Only Gold". George Hunter is an internationally recognized Canadian photographer, known for his stunning black and white photography. During the 1950's, he travelled in his own plane throughout the Northwest Territories photo-documenting several of the north's mining operations and the people who worked at them. The exhibit, titled "Not Only Gold", features selected photos of Con, Giant, Tundra (Taurcanis), Discovery, Rayrock, Eldorado (Port Radium), and the O'Connor Lake base metal deposit known as American Yellowknife Mines Limited. 

George Hunter attended the grand opening of the exhibit on June 9th, 2005 at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The exhibit "Not Only Gold" will be on display to the public through December 31, 2005. Following that date, the exhibit will belong to the NWT Mining Heritage Society to display in the future NWT Mining Museum. Work continues towards printing a catalogue of the full George Hunter exhibit "Not Only Gold" for sale as a fund-raiser and lasting compilation of this work. 

Equipment Collection: During June, much was completed at Giant Mine in the collection of artifacts and mining equipment. Our collection of old mining machinery grew 3-fold as loads were brought down from the old boneyards at Giant. Because most of these items had been previously signed off by Miramar managers, we wanted to get the equipment removed from the site before their term ended at the end of June. Ryan Silke spearheaded the project, with assistance from Danny Ruman, Randy Freeman, Chris Bromley, Rick Muyres, Blair Weatherby, Sandy Hamilton and Nick the forklift driver at Giant. A large amount of equipment from Rick Muyres display in Old Town was donated to our cause as well. 

Parking Lot Display: More landscaping will need to be done before our display can be organized. Our plan is to grade the pad down with smaller size rock to level it out, and then to build the rail track. A small section of rail was built at A-shaft to test our ability to actually 'lay track'. A 30-foot section took about 4 hours to complete! But we are confident that with the right help and a little more practise we should be able to build the proposed 200-foot rail display without too much trouble. It should also be noted that most of the track accessories (timber ties, spikes, fishplates, junctions, pins and draw-bars) have been collected. 

Discovery Mine Destruction: NWT mining history suffered a blow when cleanup commenced at the Discovery gold mine this spring. In May, the buildings were burned to the ground by government cleanup crews and rubble is to be buried on site. Our society was allowed one final visit to the site in April to collect the few remaining artifacts that we wanted, although past efforts 

by our members had basically retrieved everything of historical value. The mine operated from 1950 to 1969 and the property was home to many families. 

Donations: Horst Nendsa, who now lives in Camrose, Alberta, worked at Discovery from 1955-1965 and donated some photographs and memorabilia to us. Horst and his wife Ingabourg were also interviewed by Ryan Silke for information on life at Discovery in those years. Another interview was with George Sian who worked at Con Mine for 40 years. George also donated an item to us: an old cloth hoist signal board, used to list directions for ringing for the shaft-cage and hoist while underground. 

Future Plans: The A-shaft headframe repair project is to be completed this summer, although numerous delays have thus far been encountered. We are hopeful that the City of Yellowknife will award us lease-hold on the recreation hall property at Giant Mine, and that repairs can get underway on the building. The end of Miramar's tenure at the Giant Mine has created some confusion regarding our use and ownership of the A-shaft buildings, but these will be worked out in the near future.