Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Project

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐004)

In 2009, Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. conducted archaeological investigations for the Joint Venture (JV) that operates the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road. This work was conducted through EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. (EBA) and under Northwest Territories Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐004. The 2009 investigations were limited to a two‐day inspection tour of the existing winter road south of Lac de Gras. This is the fifth year that Points West has been part of the annual winter road inspection tour, which also included a JV representative, Erik Madsen, an EBA biologist, Karla Langlois, and Lawrence Goulet, a representative of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road runs from the south end of Tibbitt Lake near Yellowknife to almost the north end of Contwoyto Lake in Nunavut and has been used most winters for more than 25 years. In the winter of 2008 to 2009, the ice road was not constructed north of Lac de Gras because of a lack of mining activity. In previous years, a number of archaeological sites located near the winter road or its associated developments (gravel pits and camps) were marked by stakes to ensure avoidance during winter activities. Monitoring of the protected archaeological sites south of Lac de Gras was the major component of the 2009 archaeological investigations.

Four of the seven protected sites are near portages along the winter road, one is near the boundary of a camp and two are near active gravel pits. Damaged stakes were replaced when necessary and the top of all markers were sprayed with fluorescent paint to make them more visible in winter. It was discovered that more markers were required at KjPa‐1 near Lockhart Lake Camp as a result of the storage of snow removal equipment near the eastern boundary of the lease. Additional markers were added by the inspection crew. Additional markers were

also placed at two gravel pits (GP8 and GP9) to better define the area within which borrowing may occur; these markers are at least 30 m from known adjacent sites. The remaining protected sites are intact and no further actions were required. One of these sites, LcNc‐133, is located immediately east of Portage 55. In 2007 it was noted that some surface disturbance had occurred. Additional and more substantial markers were installed by Nuna Logistics and the portage was widened to the west to provide more room for snow removal. The 2009 inspection indicates that these efforts were sufficient to protect this site and continued monitoring of winter road activity is recommended.

In the process of visiting the protected archaeological sites on the ground, other portages were examined from the air to confirm their status and ensure no new disturbances have occurred in areas with archaeological potential.

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