Fonds 113 - Erik Watt fonds

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Erik Watt fonds

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  • Graphic material

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  • 1929-1995 (Creation)
    Watt, Erik

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Physical description

1,207 photographs : b&w prints; b&w negatives; col. slides

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Erik Watt was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on March 4, 1927. He first came to the Northwest Territories in 1943, when he traveled the Mackenzie River. He returned to the north in 1956 as a reporter for the Edmonton Journal. When he left the Edmonton Journal in 1959, he was hired by the Winnipeg Free Press and continued to work in the north as a northern reporter until 1962. During his years as a journalist in the north, he had the opportunity to visit many communities in the Northwest Territories and in northern Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. He made a photographic record of his travels through the north. His work as a journalist took him to small communities in the eastern arctic such as Cape Dorset, developing communities in the west such as Inuvik, and gave him access to Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites across the north. Erik Watt moved to Yellowknife in 1976 and was the editor of the Yellowknifer (1976-1978), the regional manager and director for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1978-1983), and the founding editor of Up Here magazine (1984-1985). Between 1985 and 1998, he was self-employed as a public relations and media consultant with his company, Erik Watt and Associates. Erik Watt died November 10, 2003.

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Scope and content

This fonds consists of 1,207 photographs, including 852 predominantly black and white negatives and prints, and 355 colour slides.

The majority of the images were taken by Erik Watt between 1950 and 1995. These images fall into two broad groups: those that Erik Watt took during his career as a journalist in the 1950s and 1960s, and those Erik took primarily in the 1980s and 1990s while he was employed in various capacities. The majority of the 1950s-1960s photographs are black and white and show locations within the Northwest Territories, however, images from northern Alberta, northern Manitoba, and northern Quebec complement the overriding theme of Canada's north. A wide range of subject matter is represented in these photographs, including: DEW line operations; educational activities; views of northern communities and people from both the eastern and western arctic; Aboriginal reserves; mining operations; church work in the north; road construction; and special functions such as the official opening of public buildings. The 1980s-1990s photographs are colour slides and primarily document mine sites and infrastructure.

The remainder of the photographs were taken by Erik's father, Frederick Watt, and date between 1929-1933. These images include the first air mail flight to Aklavik, images of floatplanes and pilots, prospecting and staking activities and the establishment of the Cameron Bay settlement and mine. Some of these images were used in Frederick Watt's book "Great Bear: A Journey Remembered".

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      Copyright transferred to NWT Archives by donor.

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