- May 2017
Denison Ice Road
The Denison Ice Road was constructed by John Denison, an ice road engineer, and his crew. He drove a Caterpillar tractor which pull freight sleighs in harsh environments like those found in Alaska. His experiences with these long drives between mines sparked his interest in designing a road that could support regular transport trucks and vehicles (Princes of Wales Nothern Heritage Center n.d.). The construction of the Denison Ice Road began in the late 1950s. This road was planned to connect Yellowknife through the Arctic Circle to the Great Bear Lake silver mine. This distance totaled about 530 kilometers or 323 miles. John Denison and his crew worked with Byers Transport to complete the construction of Denison Ice Road. Byers Transport was a company that was at the forefront of ice road construction in the North. The construction of the Denison Ice Road was built through some of the most isolated terrain in the sub-arctic region. In 1988, John Denison received the Order of Canada for his successful construction of and ingenuity in building winter roads (Yellowknifer 2001). A detailed account of the experiences of John Denison and his crew during the construction of the Denison Ice Road can be found in “Denison’s Ice Road” by Edith Iglauer. A copy of “Denison’s Ice Road” can be found by following this link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/denisons-ice-road-edith-iglauer/1100112712?ean=9781550170412.
After completing the Denison Ice Road project, John Denison worked on the construction of a road to Tundra Mine and Discovery Mine. John Denison was married to Hannah with whom he had four kids. His family resided in Edmonton, Alberta and then Kelowna, British Columbia (Yellowknifer 2001).
Princes of Wales Nothern Heritage Center. n.d. Historical Timeline of the Northwest Territories. Accessed May 7, 2017. http://www.nwttimeline.ca/1950/1959_Denison.htm.
Yellowknifer. 2001. Articles on John Denison. January 10. Accessed April 9, 2017. http://www.harbourpublishing.com/excerpt/DenisonsIceRoad/webonly/109.
Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake is located near the Arctic Circle in the Norwest Territories (Kujawinski). Great Bear Lake is the eighth largest lake in the world and spans more than 12,000 square miles. The only residents near the Great Bear Lake are the Sahtuto’ine, which means the “Bear Lake people.” They reside in the town of Deline and the population is about 500. In March of 2016, Great Bear Lake was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, which acts to conserve the lake. Great Bear Lake is the first Biosphere Reserve to be controlled by an indigenous group. The Sahtuto’ine were granted self-government by the government of Canada and are now the sole people responsible for the happenings at Great Bear Lake. Great Bear Lake is a significant part of Sahtuto’ine culture. The Lake is viewed as essential for human life, based on a prophecy from the 1930s. The prophecy holds that the Great Bear Lake has the purest water in the world and that people will migrate from all over the world to drink its water and catch its fish. Climate change effects have already been witnessed at the Lake and locals believe that the prophecy will come true sooner than expected. These fears pushed the locals to have the lake preserved. Some locals believe that the Great Bear Lake gave life to every other lake and for that, it must be protected. Images of Great Bear Lake and its people can be found below: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/travel/great-bear-lake-arctic-unesco-biosphere-canada.html?_r=0
References: Kujawinski, Peter. "Guardians of a Vast Lake, and a Refuge for Humanity." The New York Times. February 07, 2017. Accessed May 03, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/travel/great-bear-lake-arctic-unesco-biosphere-canada.html?_r=0.