The Dogrib Birchbark Canoe Project, begun in the spring of 1996, was a collaborative effort to build a birchbark canoe in the style of the traditional Tlicho (Dogrib) canoes. The Canoe Project was an extension of a larger effort to complete heritage resource inventories for two Tlicho traditional canoe routes. During the course of the trail inventories, the remains of 30 birchbark canoes were located and recorded, providing an indication of the important role the birchbark canoe played in traversing the Tlicho region. Stakeholders in the project included the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council, the Dogrib Divisional Board of Education, the elders of Gameti (Rae Lakes) and Behchoko (Rae), the Rae/Edzo Friendship Centre and the Archaeology Section of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The canoe's design was based on a similar birchbark canoe built by Chief Jimmy Bruneau in the late 1960's. All efforts were made to document the process involved, whether on video, audiocassette or on paper. The project involved six elders (Joe and Julie Mackenzie, Paul and Elizabeth Rabesca, Nick and Annie Black) from Behchoko (Rae). Six students from Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchoko (Edzo) participated as well. Tom Andrews, Subarctic Archaeologist at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, coordinated the project from Yellowknife. Don Gardner, a professional canoe builder from Calgary assisted with the project. With the help of the "Canada-Northwest Territories Co-operation Agreement for Aboriginal and Official Languages Program" administered by Parks Canada, broadcast-quality videocassettes of the first feature-length birchbark canoe production were completed in early 1997.
Horace Herbert (Mac) Smee was born on April 22, 1922 in Edmonton, Alberta. He married Joan Eilleen Smee (also of Edmonton) in Fairview, Alberta. They had two sons, Barry Smee and Martin Smee.
In 1941, he began working for the Northern Transportation Company as a chief steward and was sent to the Northwest Territories. His first job was to paint the S.S. "Mackenzie River" in Fort Smith, which he then rode up the Mackenzie River as far as the Mackenzie Delta. On his return to Fort Smith, he was transferred to the S.S. "Distributor" and made two trips on this vessel. The first trip he acted as steward to Margaret White. After his service with the Northern Transportation Company, he returned to Edmonton and joined the Air Force, which he left in 1943.
The Smees moved to Prince George, British Columbia, where Mac Smee operated two independent theatres, before moving to Vancouver in 1947. In Vancouver, Smee managed movie theatres including the Strand, Orpheum, Victoria Road Theatre, and the Regent. He served as the Secretary of the Famous Players Theatre Managers Association of BC.
Around 1954, the Smees moved back to Edmonton. Mac Smee joined the Hudson Bay Company, where he worked until retiring in 1982. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Mac, Joan and Martin Smee operated a family business, The Plate Connection, an award-winning collectors’ plate and doll supplier.
Smee died on August 6th, 1995 in Edmonton.
John J Lengyel was born on September 13, 1911, in Naugatuck, Connecticut, to James Lengyel and Bertha Lengyel (nee Horvath). In 1913, the family moved to Lethbridge, Alberta. Lengyel had five sisters and six brothers: Bertha, Margaret, Anne (Annie), Katie, Helen, Jim, Joe, George, Bill, Chester, and Andrew (Andy).
In 1938, Lengyel moved to Edmonton, Alberta, and married Ellen Martin. They had two children: Joan (b. 1942) and J. George Lengyel (1943-1960).
Lengyel was a “Jack of all trades” and worked many different jobs over the years, including as a butcher, roofer, and siding installer.
In the mid- to late 1940s, Lengyel worked as a fisherman for the first commercial fishery on Great Slave Lake. During the same period, Lengyel and some friends, including his brother Chester, “wanted a challenge” and they built the tugboat ‘Thunder River’ in Edmonton, then travelled north on the boat. Lengyel worked on the boat transporting items salvaged from the Canol Project, likely in the summer of 1949.
In 1951, John J Lengyel and his family moved to Stavely, Alberta, and settled on a farm East of Stavely.
John J Lengyel died June 11, 1976.
Henry "Hank" Koenen owned and operated Koenen's Air Service Ltd. from about 1949 to 1975. In 1960, there was a suggestion that he was considering selling Koenen's Air Service to Ken Stockall (one of his pilots), but the deal didn't go ahead. Another opportunity for sale arose in 1961, but again, the deal did not go ahead.
Koenen's Air Service provided charter services to places all over the Northwest Territories and a few outside, including Fort Simpson, Lac La Martre (Whati), Snowdrift (Lutselk'e), Fort Reliance, Fort Rae (Behchoko), Fort Norman (Tulita), Fort Good Hope, Fort Resolution , Trout Lake, Fort Providence, Thelon River, Rocher River, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, Fort Smith, Fort Franklin (Deline), Norman Wells, Jean Marie River, Pine Point, Coppermine (Kugluktuk), Athabasca, Lake Athabasca, Uranium City,and many small lakes, islands, and camps. Several planes were used by the business over the years, including CF-MFY Champion, CF-IYU Cessna, CF-HCQ Stinson, CF-HBL Cessna, and CF-EPP Cessna, among others. Several pilots, besides Hank Koenen, flew for Koenen's Air Service throughout its history, including: Bud Morceau, D. McKay, Keith Silvester, Ernie Boffa, Maurice Lynn, T. McCluny, Wolfgang Poepperl, Jim McAvoy, Ken Stockall, Kenneth Gordon Hornby, some of whom went on to found their own charter services.
Hank Koenen stops appearing the in Yellowknife telephone directory in 1963, although he reputedly remained in Yellowknife until the mid-1970s. Koenen's Air Service disappears from the directory in 1963, but reappears in 1964. Hank Koenen retired to Edmonton, selling Koenen's Air Service to Trevor Burroughs in the 1970s.
Trevor Burroughs appears to have operated Koenen's Air Service Limited in Yellowknife until about 1985, although it remained a federal corporation until 1995, when it was dissolved for non-compliance.
In the late 1930s to early 1940's Robert Stirton worked on the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) boats transporting supplies to the HBC posts from Waterways, Alberta to Aklavik.
Pi Kennedy is a trapper and dog musher from the Fort Smith region.
K.W. Phillips was an aircraft maintenance engineer in the RCMP Air Division stationed in Ottawa.
John Phillip Matta was born in 1928 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the eldest of four children. His father worked in the mining industry and thus moved the family to mine sites in British Columbia and Quebec while John grew up. He graduated from high school in 1946, and worked in mines until 1953 when he chose to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He spent 10 years in the RCAF as a photographer with photo intelligence. After leaving the Air Force he worked as a production manager for a photo finishing company until his retirement in 1991. He has lived in Calgary since 1954.
The Department of Infrastructure was established April 1, 2017 with the amalgamation of the Department of Public Works and Services and the Department of Transportation. Infrastructure is responsible for strategic planning of public transportation infrastructure (including roads, bridges, ferries, and airports) and energy production and distribution systems; the disposal of surplus government property and goods; environmental impact assessment/regulatory review and approval; information management and technology; Marine Transportation Services; mechanical/electrical regulatory services; motor and vehicle services; planning, design, construction, acquisition, operation and maintenance of public buildings and transportation infrastructure and systems; energy conservation and efficiency programs; property management; and remediation of public infrastructure.
George Hunter was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1921. In 1937 at the age of 16, he bought his first camera to record his trip to London, England for the coronation of King George VI. He began selling his first photographs the next year. From 1945-1950 he worked for the National Film Board's Still Division. In 1950, he went into business for himself, buying a Piper Clipper airplane for aerial photographs. He promoted himself as a corporate, industrial and aerial photographer.
George Hunter's work in the north consisted of primarily mining industry photography during the 1950s. During this time he also gained an international reputation, carrying out assignments for Time, Fortune and National Geographic magazines. In 1977 he was one of the first photographers elected to the Royal Canadian Acadamy of Arts. His images have been used by companies around the world, as well as Canada Post for images on stamps, and the Bank of Canada, which used his images of salmon seiners on the $5 bill and oil refineries on the $10 bill for the 1972-1988 banknote series. His more recent work has focused on travel photography and fine art photography. In 2005 the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center hosted an exhibit of his work entitled "Not only gold: 1950s mining in the NWT", by the NWT Mining Heritage Society, funded in part by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
George Hunter passed away in Mississauga, Ontario on April 10, 2013.
Francis (Frank) Leo Buckley was born on November 9, 1893 in Seattle, Washington. In the summer of 1938, Frank and his wife Viola, daughter Patricia (Patsy) and son Harold (Timmy) moved from Peace River, Alberta to Yellowknife. Mr. Buckley made the journey by transporting two scows loaded with gasoline belonging to Peace River Airways, traveling down Peace River and Slave River, and finally crossing Great Slave Lake. During this trip the scows also brought up a cow and two horses (Prince and Pal), the first horses to arrive in Yellowknife. Between 1938-1940, Mr. Buckley worked hauling wood on land and freighting lumber across Great Slave Lake from the saw mill near Hay River owned by M. MacDonald and Bobbie Porritt. In 1942, Mr. Buckley returned with his family to his wife's hometown of Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Mr. Buckley continued to do occasional freighting work in the north until 1950.
Construction of the Mackenzie Highway system began in 1946. Work on the highway from the Alberta boundary to Hay River was completed in 1948.
Poole Field was a trader, trapper and prospector in the Yukon and Nahanni Butte region. He was born near Regina in approximately 1880. He joined the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP) as a young man and transferred to the Yukon during the gold rush in the late 1890s. After three years, Field left the RNWMP and went to Alaska for about five years. He returned to the Yukon and during this time, he met and married Mary Atkinson (nee Lafferty). Field made at least one trip into the Nahanni region in 1905 but returned to the Yukon. Mary and Poole moved to the Nahanni Butte region in approximately 1914 after coming into the possession of a letter written by Martin Jorgenson claiming he had found gold. In 1915 or 1916, Field and his companions found the remains of Jorgenson at his burned cabin near Virginia Falls. According to Dick Turner, author of the book "Nahanni", Field spoke Cree and Slavey fluently and was an excellent woodsman. In approximately 1924, Field began operating as an independent trader and ran a store at Trout Lake for three years before returning to Nahanni Butte where he operated an independent trading post from 1928 to about 1935. In the 1940s, Field worked as a river pilot during the summer and trapped during the winter seasons.
Peter Lockhart Gordon and his brother, Hugh Donald Lockhart Gordon travelled down the Nahanni in the summer of 1961 by canoe. Hugh drowned while on the trip.
Otto Lahser was one of a party that traveled from Detroit Michigan to Athabasca (Alberta) and built the boat "Enterprise." From there, the group journeyed down the Athabasca and Slave Rivers to Great Slave Lake and then down the Mackenzie River to the Peel River. It was at the Peel River that the group sold the "Enterprise" and then split up. Some members attempted to travel south by dog sled while others crossed the Richardson Mountains to LaPerre's House and Fort Yukon.
Edmonton entrepreneur, Cy Becker, established the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) in 1931. In 1936, the company was purchased by Charles and Gilbert Labine who in turn sold it to Eldorado Mining for $87,500. In 1942, Eldorado became a crown corporation. In 1976, NTCL ceased to be part of Eldorado Mining and became an independent entity, although still a crown corporation. NTCL had a profound effect on the development of the western arctic. Although purchased to supply Elorado mining, it always acted as a general carrier. In 1948, the NTCL was dominant in the arctic transportation industry in the Northwest Territories and in 1960, NTCL received the contract to supply DEW line sites and began operating on the Arctic Ocean. The Company's operations are divided into two main geographic sections: the Mackenzie/Western Arctic (including the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut and Alaska) and the Eastern Arctic, which is comprised of the Kivalliq and Baffin Regions of Nunavut. Service in the Mackenzie River watershed began in 1934 and along the Western Arctic Coast and Islands in 1957. Service was extended to encompass the North Slope of Alaska in 1963. Cargo arrives by rail or truck at NTCL's largest operating terminal located at Hay River. It is then transported across Great Slave Lake, down the Mackenzie River to Tuktoyaktuk and along the Arctic coast eastward to Taloyoak and westward to Point Hope, Alaska. In addition to its Regional Offices, NTCL maintains two operating terminals in the Mackenzie Western Arctic, located at Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. Its extensive maritime route system in this sector is serviced by a large fleet of tugs and dual-purpose shallow draft barges, which carry both, bulk petroleum products and dry cargo. NTCL's operations in the Kivalliq region were established in 1975 out of Churchill, Manitoba. The communities of Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet, Baker Lake and Coral Harbour are serviced through NTCL's Regional Office located at Rankin Inlet and its receiving terminal at Churchill. The company operates one tug, the M.V. Keewatin, and four dual-purpose 1800 series barges in the performance of its Kivalliq service. In 1996, NTCL began to supply fuel to all communities in the Baffin region. Although, NTCL's primary function is marine transportation, it also provides full range integrated logistics support services. Extensive marine maintenance and repair services are conducted in Hay River. Other services include warehousing and distribution, equipment chartering and leasing, steel fabrication and machining, electronic sales and service and the sale of industrial parts and supplies. NTCL is a member of the NorTerra group of companies.
Norman Lubbock (Robbie) Robinson was born on July 18, 1890 in County Wicklow Ireland. He spent over two years with the Northwest Mounted Police prior to World War I, and then five years in the army; first with the 19th Alberta Dragoons and then with the British Army in 1915. After returning to Edmonton in 1919, he worked as an Inspector with the Soldiers Settlement Board before traveling to the Northwest Territories where he spent five years working as a trapper, guide and purser aboard the steamer "Mackenzie River." In 1925, he returned to Edmonton with the intention to rejoin the Northwest Mounted Police, however, due to poor eyesight he was denied a position. He moved to British Columbia where he married in November 1928 and operated a timber business near Kamloops. During the Depression, he accepted a position as a Game Warden with the British Columbia Provincial Game Department. He held this position until 1938 and worked in Kamloops, Quesnel and Lillooet, British Columbia. In 1938, Robinson and his wife moved to Ireland for two years where he worked for the Turf Development Board on Clonsast Bog in Leix, Ireland. They returned to Canada in 1940. At the time of his May 1952 death in Calgary at age 61, he was an employment claims officer for the Unemployment Insurance Commission.