- May 2017
Designed during the first months of World War II, the Canol Pipeline brought oil from Norman Wells near the Mackenzie River to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Once the oil was refined, it would be sent to Alaska via pipeline to ensure that the Japanese navy could not intercept any transport. The oil deposits at Norman Wells were discovered by the explorer Alexander Mackenzie during the 18th century. In January of 1942, Lieutenant General Brehon Somervell, commanding general of the Army Service Forces, ordered James H. Graham, former dean of engineering at the University of Kentucky, to investigate the possibility of harvesting oil from Norman Wells. On April 29, 1942, General Somervell immediately approved the recommendation of Dean Graham to implement a pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse (O'Brien, 1970). The construction began in 1942 and was completed in 1944 by the United States Army. A road was also constructed alongside the Canol pipeline during this time. In 1945, soon after the completion of the Canol Pipeline, the volume of crude oil that was able to be transported compared to the cost of operating the pipeline could not be justified. The Canol Pipeline was shut down and abandoned in 1945 (Wilson, 1991).
O'Brien, C. F. (1970). The Canol Project: A Study in Emergency Military Planning. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 101-108.
Wilson, W. H. (1991). Review: A Walk on teh Canol Road: Exploring the First Major Northern Pipeline. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 114.
Norman Wells is a small trading community located along the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories (Life in Norman Wells). Norman Wells was founded due to its natural resources. The oil seepages observed at the riverbank by Alexander Mackenzie were assumed to be oil spills; however, these oil deposits were an example of a non-renewable resource in Norman Wells. Reefs and sediments that once were in the ocean create oil, which seeps to the surface of riverbanks. Alexander Mackenzie first noticed the oil seepages in the 1700s, and three land claims were staked in 1914. The town of Norman Wells prospered after this discovery and Imperial Oil staked land claims in 1918 and drilled for oil. The oil production was small, but enough to supply local towns with oil. Today, Imperial Oil and the Canadian Government share ownership of the Norman Wells oil field and employ about 90 people from Norman Wells (Quenneville). In 1994, a Sahtu Land Claim Agreement was signed, giving the Hare, Sahtu Dene, Mountain Dene, and Metis ethnic groups ownership of some land parcels in Norman Wells (Life in Norman Wells). Today, Norman Wells contains two oil pipelines and is an area of commerce and tourism with a population of roughly 800 people. Norman Wells contains its own airstrip with flights that leave daily. Tourists visit Norman Wells to experience its diverse wildlife, including birds, moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep, grizzly bears, and a variety of fish. Images of Norman Wells can be found below: http://www.normanwells.com/lifestyle/gallery/canada-day-2010
References: "Life in Norman Wells." Normanwells. 2010. Accessed May 03, 2017. http://www.normanwells.com/lifestyle/life-norman-wells.
Quenneville, Guy. "Imperial Oil to suspend Norman Wells production due to continuing pipeline shutdown." CBCnews. January 26, 2017. Accessed May 03, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/imperial-oil-norman-wells-suspend-production-pipeline-1.3954051.
- Apr 2017
Sir Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish man famous for his North American expeditions. Mackenzie was a fur trader and explorer, who originally resided at the North West Company trading post. Mackenzie is famous for believing in the existence of the Northwest Passage, an Alaskan canal that would link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Northwest Passage would provide opportunities for trade (PBS). In 1789, Mackenzie organized a crew of French-Canadian explorers and Native American interpreters to travel by canoe from Fort Chipewyan in search for the Northwest Passage. This expedition helped to create records of the northern parts of North America in the Arctic, rather than prove the existence of a Northwest Passage. In 1973, Mackenzie led a second voyage from Fort Fork along the Peace River. Mackenzie’s crew crossed the Rocky Mountains to the Fraser River. Mackenzie relied on Native Americans for support and guidance throughout his travels. Shuswap Indians warned the crew of the dangers of the river, causing Mackenzie’s crew to take a shorter route overland (CBC). Mackenzie’s party eventually reached the Pacific Ocean and encountered the Bella Coola Indians, who were upset about the presence of Mackenzie’s crew. Despite the concern of an attack from the Bella Coola Indians, Mackenzie became the first European to cross the North American continent north of Mexico on land. Lewis and Clark did not reach the coast until 1805(PBS). King George III knighted Alexander Mackenzie in 1802 for his efforts and success in traversing the North American continent.
"Alexander Mackenzie-From Canada, by Land." CBCnews. Accessed April 09, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPCONTENTSE1EP6CH3PA4LE.html.
"Empire of the Bay: Alexander Mackenzie." PBS. Accessed April 09, 2017. http://www.pbs.org/empireofthebay/profiles/mackenzie.html.