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Newsletter - February 2009


Yellowknife's 75th Birthday!

As you may already know, 2009 is Yellowknife’s 75th anniversary. Gold was discovered in the Yellowknife area in 1934 during the Great Depression. When word of that discovery got out, companies and individuals headed to the area. Most people stayed in tents but Sam Otto built a log cabin on Latham Island and that is sometimes sited as Yellowknife first permanent residence.

Yellowknife started out as a northern frontier boomtown with Con, Rycon and Negus mines to the south of town and of course Giant Mine north of town. Yellowknife was dependent on the mines and became a regional and transportation centre. In 1967 it became the capital of the NWT. The gold mines may be shut down now but Yellowknife still owes a lot of its prosperity to mining, as evident by the recent opening of the winter supply road to the diamond mines.

This anniversary provides us with a great opportunity to build support for our Society and that Yellowknife needs and deserves to have a mining, exploration and geological museum and interpretive centre. There will be a number of events to celebrate this anniversary and we encourage member to get involved. We will keep you posted of the various events and organizations involved in the celebrations.

Tour Guide for Birthday

The society is planning to produce a small handout for visitors and residents that can be used as part of the 75th anniversary. It will contain a brief history of Yellowknife and then describe a few of the reminders of mining in the Yellowknife area. Some of the areas will include:

  • Giant Mine outdoor displays
  • YK Airport Displays
  • Robertson Shaft headframe
  • Negus Mine cookhouse
  • Walter Gibbins mineral display at Greenstone Building
  • Visitor’s Centre Diamond Display
  • Old Town

If you can think of any other attractions we should cover in the handout please email with your suggestions. Contact us if you’d be interested in helping with the project.


Our members are important to us. If you haven’t renewed your membership yet, please do so soon. Last year we had a hundred members and we would like to repeat or increase that number. Please keep in mind that funding agencies and various levels of government use our membership numbers to gauge the support we have for our society and its projects. Our membership form is available on our website and can be mailed in or dropped off at our office in the Northern Frontiers Visitors Centre.

Board of Directors

Denie Olmstead, a director of the society since its inception in 2002, has resigned from the board and moved his family to Ontario. We are sorry to see him go and would like to thank him for his years of support. At our Annual General Meeting in May or June, we will need to elect a new board, so if anyone is interested in becoming a director please contact us. Be a part of Yellowknife’s important heritage projects!

The Nikiforow's- Giant Mine Elders

Ryan Silke, one of our directors, recently caught up with Bruce and Pat Nikiforow in Edmonton, a blast from Giant Mine past. Bruce came to Yellowknife in July 1949 and became work as a timekeeper at the almost brand-new Giant, working as a clerk and paymaster until his retirement in 1986. Pat came north in 1952 and worked in the cafeteria as chief baker. They witnessed huge changes at Giant and Yellowknife in that time, and loved every minute of it. They were active curlers, and Pat worked at the YWCA. Pat remembers the Giant Mine cafeteria being the centre of the community in the early years. Its destruction by fire in 1981 was a sad day.

Bruce remembers a host of interesting colleagues. Both are sad to see the Giant legacy get tarnished because of its environmental issues, and wish that people can see the good it has done for the community. Thanks Pat and Bruce for sharing your photos and stories with us!

Click here for a PDF version of this newsletter:

newsletter2009a.pdf (775.63 KB)