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Newsletter - February 2011



The Society would again like to give thanks to our many donors and sponsors for a very active year in 2010. Our two trust funds continue to attract financial support from community members. Charitable donations from corporate sponsors continue to roll in, while donations of memorabilia and mining artifacts add to our collection. With your generous assistance, our mining museum becomes closer to reality!

Monetary Donations 2010

  • Bill Robertson
  • Dave Lovell
  • J&R Mechanical
  • Maureen (Squeak) Hall
  • Glenn & Trish Warner
  • Gordon Piro
  • Robert Hornal
  • Dr. Ian Gilchrist
  • Walt Humphries
  • Duane & Susan Mather
  • Sub Arctic Surveys

Donations to NWT Mining Heritage Trust Fund 2010

  • Brian Yurris
  • Patricia Rapley
  • Ed Hoeve
  • BHP Billiton Diamonds
  • Anonymous

Donations to Walter Gibbins Trust Fund 2010

  • Lou Covello
  • Avalon Rare Metals
  • Anonymous


The Society is currently drafting a new brochure on mining heritage with grant money from GNWT Industry, Tourism and Investment. It will be a guide to mining heritage resources in the Yellowknife area highlighting where you can learn more about geology, mining history, and where to find displays around town. Look for it this summer!


Yellowknife Heritage Week is on February 20 to 26 this year. The NWT Mining Heritage Society is planning a heritage video exhibition on Thursday, February 24th at 7 pm at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre. All members of the public are welcome to attend and watch mining heritage videos.

Some of the videos will include…

  • ‘Giant Yellowknife Gold Mine’ 1954
  • ‘Northwest Neighbours’ NFB 1958
  • ‘Yellowknife’
  • ‘Punch Dickens’
  • ‘Northwest by Air’
  • …and others to be decided.


Director Ryan Silke recently sat down with Bob Balsillie in Yellowknife to document some of the city’s early hockey history. Con Mine had a hockey team called the ‘Cougars’ and for many years they struggled to win the championship. Bob Balsillie was on the team in the 1963/1964 season when the Cougars came back from a 4-0 deficit in the second period to win the league trophy 5-4 against the Molson Indians. “It was a big party that night at the Con rec hall” Bob remembers.

Bob donated a hockey crest and some photographs which he hopes one day will be on display for all to remember the glory days of Yellowknife hockey. Thank you Bob for the memories!


In early February 1950, the first gold brick was poured at the Discovery Mine, 90 kilometers north of Yellowknife. Discovery was one of many post-war gold projects in the Yellowknife region. Most of them flopped after the dollar parity crisis in 1946 in which the market price of gold was essentially devalued, but the dedication of J.J. Byrne and his family of mining men saw that the money was available to finance exploration, eventually proving up a very rich orebody.

Ken Johnson was there for that very first gold pour. He shared his story with us a few years ago. “The Byrne boys came in when they poured the first brick so they invited us over for a little speech. Scotty, he was a funny guy. Norm called him over and told him to take the gold brick over to the office. Scotty gets out the door and the snow is deep there and he drops the gold bar in the snow bank! Here’s Scotty down there digging for the gold. He finally found it, but I don’t think the managers knew about it. But I did and some of the other guys, but we didn’t tell!” We were sorry to learn that Ken passed away earlier last year.

The Discovery mine went on to produce one million ounces of gold until closure in 1969.

Click here for a PDF version of this newsletter:

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