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Newsletter - Fall 2022


In this issue: Museum Construction Update - Farewell to Tracey Bryant - Giant Mine A-Shaft Powerhouse Demolished - Geoscience Forum - Ranney Hill Trail - Giant Mine Podcast - Yellowknife in the Early Days - Upcoming Events

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Newsletter Fall 2022 (686.09 KB)

Autumn is slowly turning into winter here in the NWT capital. We are experiencing a very strange summer and fall season in the north with very little precipitation and overall warm weather. There are even forest fires still burning in some parts of the NWT! Does this mean for a mild winter, or an unfathomably cold one?


Construction continues on the Yellowknife Historical Society museum project although delays in the availability of contractors has pushed back our anticipated completion date into next spring. In the meantime, we have been working on an exhibit plan as we start thinking about the types of stories or artifacts to share in the museum. We have ordered restaurant tables and chairs through Quality Furniture in Yellowknife, and they have offered a significant discount as a donation to our project. Thanks Jeannie Rocher!


Society coordinator Tracey Bryant resigned her position this month after nine years administrating our affairs. We were sorry to see her go and wish her all the best in future endeavours. Book keeping services are now being contracted out and the coordinator's position will be dependent on our staffing needs as the Society enters a facility operations phase in the coming months.


A sad farewell to the Giant Mine A-shaft Powerhouse building, slowly being dismantled board by board as part of the Giant Mine Remediation Project this month. This follows the demolition of the other A-shaft buildings - the headframe and hoist room, in 2016. Once part of our envisioned museum project grounds, we were unable to secure rights to take over these buildings and make them part of our property. There was considerable work needed to bring them up to repair and we had to focus attention and money on our main museum building. However, one of the massive diesel engines from the powerhouse will be removed for future display and we also salvaged parts of the old hoist years ago.




The Society will have a booth promoting the museum project at the Geoscience Forum being held, for the first time in 3 years, in person on November 15-17. If you are interested in volunteering at our booth, please respond to this email. This is also the 50th anniversary celebration of the Geoscience Forum, so congratulations to the NWT Chamber of Mines for achieving such a historic milestone!


The Ranney Hill hiking trail will have a grand opening event on October 27 at 10:30 am. The popular hiking route has received some nice upgrades thanks to the financial support of Gold Terra Corporation. Trail features include several signs promoting the area, including biographies of Mr Winslow Ranney himself - the prospector whose name adorns the hill - together with other characters notable in the region's prospecting/geology history: Neil Campbell, Sam Otto, and Michel Sangris.

A biography of Winslow Ranney:

Yellowknife’s beloved geologic landmark, Ranney Hill, is named for a prospector that staked claims in this area in the 1930s. Winslow Clayton Ranney was born in 1886 in the United States and came to the Northwest Territories in 1917. He became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1926 while living in Fort Norman. Many prospectors got a start by living off the land as fur trappers. In 1928, Ranney applied to open a trading post on the Slave River near Fort Smith. This was a time when independent traders and trappers increased their business in the Great Slave Lake district.

In 1935, at the start of the gold prospecting rush around Yellowknife Bay, Winslow Ranney began staking mineral claims around the hill now bearing his name. The claim names were as colourful as the gold he found in the quartz: ‘Crater’, ‘Rainbow’, and ‘Milky Way’. By 1939, many small pits had been blasted in search of gold and Ranney built log cabin camps at Martin Lake and Rater Lake. He started an underground tunnel into a rich quartz vein and purchased a hand-operated crusher to recover a bit of gold.

The seasonal life of many prospectors was to search for gold in the summer and head south for the winter. During World War II, as mining activity went quiet, Winslow Ranney trapped at Trout Rock (Enodah) and Rocher River, and worked on railroads in the United States. He returned to Yellowknife after the war and worked at Giant Mine from 1952 to 1956 operating the big steam boilers that supplied the mine’s heat. In this retirement, Ranney lived at Fort Fitzgerald on the Slave River. Ranney Hill stands in memory of the venerable gold prospector who didn’t always strike it rich but was always on the hunt.

Ranney Hill



On Sept. 14, CBC released ‘GIANT - MURDER UNDERGROUND’, a 7-episode podcast series hosted by Rachel Zelniker. ‘Giant’ revisits the 1992 Labour Dispute at the Giant Gold Mine in Yellowknife that pitted its union against the mine’s new president. On September 18, 1992, nine workers crossed the Giant picket line. Minutes later all were killed in a horrific explosion. The fallout was a city divided, and one of the most labour-intensive murder investigations the RCMP has ever seen.

Thirty years later, ‘Giant’ tells this complex story through the voices of those who lived it, from top police investigators and critical union members to anguished victims, and murder suspects-many of whom have never spoken publicly before.

All seven episodes of ‘GIANT - MURDER UNDERGROUND’ are available now on CBC Listen and everywhere podcasts are available. Listen for free on CBC Listen at


Michael Ward sent us copies of photographs from his father’s collection. John Ward was a mining engineer who came north in the late 1930s to work at Negus Mine. He later served on the board of directors for Rayrock Mines and Tundra Mines. Thanks Michael for sharing some of your family albums!

John Ward


Ranney Hill Trail grand opening – October 27, 2022 @ 10:30 am
Geoscience Forum Tradeshow – November 15-17, 2022 at Multiplex. The Society will have a booth.


The Yellowknife Historical Society envisions the museum site at Giant Mine as a place that celebrates all aspects of Yellowknife's interesting history, from its Indigenous stories, geological setting, prospecting, the industrial activities of the gold mines, and the pioneer entrepreneurs that laid the foundation for the town in the 1930s. The museum will diversify current tourism-related opportunities and is expected to appeal to visitors as well as residents of Yellowknife.

Yellowknife Historical Society
Box 1856 Yellowknife NT X1A 2P4

Board of Directors 2022/2023
Helmut Epp, president
Ryan Silke, vice president
Marie Adams, secretary-treasurer
Walt Humphries, director
Diane Baldwin, director
Mike Vaydik, director
Pamela Taylor, director