Archaeological Assessment, Axe Point Former Military Site

Sean Webster (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2007-015)

In June 2007, Golder Associates Ltd. conducted a Heritage Resources Impact Assessment at Axe Point, located west of the community of Fort Providence, NWT. Work was conducted on behalf of Public Works and Government Services Canada in advance of planned remediation activities of the former Axe Point military base. The purpose of the study was to identify, record, and evaluate structures and features associated with the former U.S. military base (JjQq‐3) prior to remediation; to conduct subsurface testing within the area of the of the former military base; to assess the potential for previously unrecorded heritage resources; and to investigate the boundaries of JhQq‐1, a former Dene Village located to the west of the former military base, so a buffer could be established around the site for avoidance during the proposed remediation activities.

Procedures employed in the assessment at Axe Point included pre‐field studies, on‐ground reconnaissance, site documentation and assessment, reporting and recommendation formulation. Project planning also included provisions for a community representative from Fort Providence to work with the archaeologists during the field inspection and to provide additional insight regarding the layout, nature and history of the site area. Louis Lacorne of Fort Providence provided a wealth of information about the Axe Point area while he accompanied two Golder archaeologists during the field program.

As the remediation project represents the removal of all materials associated with the former Axe Point military base, one focus of the field program was data collection related to the buildings and features within the base area. Data collection included digital photography, building and feature descriptions (both qualitative and quantitative), and detailed site mapping. Detailed site mapping was completed by Maskwa Engineering of Hay River. A number of structures and features were recorded including a barge, a boiler, six Quonset huts, three CANOL trailers, a mess hall, a warehouse, an amphibious tracked vehicle, and a number of buildings and cribbed/berm areas of unknown function.

Investigations were also conducted to determine the boundaries of the former Dene village (JhQq 1). Two cabins were identified and described to the west of the military base and a buffer was established so that impact to the site was avoided. In addition, shovel testing in the area of the military base revealed evidence of extensive disturbance, likely associated with base construction, and no impacts to previously unrecorded heritage resources are anticipated as a result of the remediation activities at Axe Point.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)