Old Parr and Liten Mine Phase II/III Environmental Assessment

Murray Lobb (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐021)

In August 2009, a field crew from AMEC Earth and Environmental visited the historic mine site of Old Parr / Liten as part of an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The mine site is located 45 km northeast of Yellowknife between Sproule and Parr Lakes. Part of this EIA included an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) which was conducted by Murray Lobb.

The Old Parr/Liten Mine was staked in 1947 by Louis Garskie*. Louie came to the north during the great depression with Harry Weaver of Peace River. The two traveled up the Peace River to the Slave River to sell eggs and potatoes from their boat. Garskie was enticed by the gold rush and exploration that was occurring at that time and began working for Dominion Explorers. He worked near Great Bear Lake for the next seven years. He then worked for Consolidated Mining and Smelting in Northern Saskatchewan. In 1947, Garskie examined federal government geological survey pamphlets which suggested gold may be present in the Parr Lake area. The mine site had been staked three times previous to Garskie’s claim. Garskie and Martin Bode of Yellowknife mined the site by themselves optioning the claim twice during which exploratory diamond drilling was conducted. They would mine from early spring till autumn with Garskie returning to the Grande Prairie area to trap and process rock during the winter. In 1964, the mine was optioned to Liten Mining Company Limited of Edmonton, AB who upgraded the operation setting up a powerhouse, ore bin and crusher, and used Jaeger air compressor drills. Liten pulled out of the mine site in 1965, and Garskie worked by himself until 1972, and then again in 1974. Garskie died in Hythe Alberta in 1988 at the age of 83.

Fieldwork commenced on August 17th of 2009. Murray was assisted by Noel Doctor of Detah, NWT who participated in all aspects of the archaeological survey and acted as wildlife monitor. During this fieldwork, Noel and Murray surveyed the mine pits, mill site, Garskie’s cabin, and examined all exposed bedrock surfaces for prehistoric materials such as stone and bone tools, debris from making stone tools, fire cracked rock, and bone from animals. No prehistoric sites were found but the mine site was recorded in what is believed to be in its entirety.

The mine site was recorded using field notes, digital photography, and differential GPS. All structures and foundations found still standing on the mine site were mapped and sketched with their dimensions recorded and method of manufacture noted. Photographs were taken of all the structures and foundations present at the mine site from multiple angles. Photos were also taken of artefacts found in and around the mining buildings and infrastructure.

During the field program, we were fortunate enough to have Ed Jones and Shannon Hayden from the North Slave Métis Alliance visit Old Parr/Liten mine. Ed, who was a former prospector and had worked in the mining industry during the 1950’s and 60’s, provided information and insight into the operation of the mine. He also was instrumental in identifying historic artefacts that were pieces of larger items such as the base of a Slusher pulley, a sledge for a diamond drill, and the center point ring for a boom system. His knowledge was invaluable to the overall interpretation of the mine site.

On August 21st, 2009, the field crew from AMEC Earth and Environmental completed the field program. All buildings, foundations, pits and artefacts were recorded. A selection of hand tools was collected for the Northwest Territories Mining Heritage Society.

* Historical information provided by Ryan Silke and the Alberta Genealogical Society

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