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Newsletter - December 2009



Once again this year the Society had a booth at the Geoscience Forum tradeshow. Several members volunteered their time and we made several contacts. Yvonne Quick organized a silent auction in support of our Society, from which we raised $1000. We also raised money from the EBA Engineering fundraiser at the Top Knight pub.

We introduced our new Trust Fund poster display at the tradeshow booth and received some interest in future sponsors. Our merchandise and membership sales were also very good ($680). The Society would like to thank all those who helped out with our fundraising during Geoscience, especially to the following companies:

Silent Auction Sponsors: Arctic Sunwet Charters, BHP Billiton, Bonny Madsen, Bottomline PR Co., Braden Burry Expediting, Canadian North, City of Yellowknife, De Beers Canada, Discovery Mining Services, Earthstone Creations, Ed Schiller, Norland Insurance, Northern Frontier Visitor’s Centre, NWT Tourism Association, Outcrop Publishing, Pierre’s Catering, Quality Furniture, Rio Tinto Diavik Mine, Tessa McIntosh, UpHere Magazine, Weaver & Devore Trading Co., Williams Engineering Inc.


In need of a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer? Don’t forget about the NWT Mining Heritage Society merchandise available at our office in the Northern Frontier Visitor’s Centre or at the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines office in the Scotia Centre. We have produced a new set of heritage mugs featuring Con, Giant, Negus, and Discovery gold mines.


Here is a synopsis of other Society updates during the fall and early winter of 2009:

Website Upgrades: The new website is still under development and beta testing of site is underway. It should be up and running in the New Year. Ryan Silke is working on adding text and photos to the site.

Foundation Work: In early November, we made emergency bracing repairs to the one foundation wall of the rec hall which has been slowly collapsing. Next year we plan to replace the existing wall with concrete.

Baker Centre Sales: The Society had a table at the annual Christmas sale at the Baker’s Centre, manned by Walt Humphries and Steve Clark. Along with our usual merchandise, we held a ‘toonie draw’ for a picture frame with mining prints and a necklace donated by Kim Strand, a local rock and gem polisher. The Society made $300 at the sale.


A special bond formed amongst folks who worked and lived together in a remote mining camp. Although Giant Mine was on Yellowknife’s doorstep, it was very much a separate little community. Christmas was a time when the camaraderie amongst employees was especially apparent and socializing was the mainstay of the season.

Staff congregated at the manager’s house to kick off celebrations. Many people in camp hosted open houses on Boxing Day. Workers from camp and those who lived in town would go from house to house, enjoying the hospitality and good cheer.

Burt Raper was a long-time electrician at Giant who built a large wooden star, adorned it with Christmas lights and set it up on the cliffs next to the houses on the hill. The star can still be seen today.

Getting the kids out of the cozy, steam-heated houses into the frigid winter air over the holidays could be a chore. Dad played for the company’s hockey team, the Giant Grizzlies, and refereed minor hockey so skating was right up there with breathing and eating. He helped clear a skating rink on the lake each winter for us kids. Unfortunately the winter winds frequently filled the rink with drifting snow, right up to the top of the banks, which made shoveling a real chore.

The commissary was another focal point of camp life. The staff at the front counter would take Christmas orders for turkeys, puddings, canned goods, candies and anything else needed to adorn one’s festive table, and the company would pay the freight to expedite the orders in time for Christmas.

Cafeteria staff, under the watchful guidance of managers like Jim St. Marie, put on a Christmas spread with all the trimmings for the single men living in the bunkhouses. The cafeteria also served as a Christmas social event venue, especially during the early years of Giant Mine.

Ask most kids from camp what they remember about Christmas and they’ll tell you it was the Kid’s Christmas Party. The rec association put on an annual Kid’s Christmas Party with treats, presents and a visit from Santa Claus. Dragi Jovanovic would make his annual migration to the bush in search of a tree that was at least twelve feet tall and had more than three branches on which to hang the multitude of lights and decorations. It was always a showpiece.

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