Archaeological Impact Assessment of the New Trout Lake Airport

Glen Mackay (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2010-006)

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (PWNHC) conducted an archaeological impact assessment (AIA) of the Department of Transportation’s proposed airport near the community of Trout Lake, NT. This work was conducted in May 2010 under NWT Archaeological Permit 2010-006.

The reserve for the Trout Lake Airport is approximately 2km x 1 km. It is connected to the community by approximately 1 km of new access road. Both the reserve and access road were cleared by chainsaw in advance of the AIA. Gravel sources for construction of the airport were selected in conjunction with the AIA. While DOT planned to develop two new sources to the west of the airport reserve, inspection of these areas on the ground suggested that they did not contain suitable material for airport construction. A detailed AIA of these areas was not conducted as they will not be developed as gravel sources. Gravel sources selected for the project include two existing pits, which will be accessed by existing winter haul roads, and one new gravel source, consisting of a northwest-southeast trending ridge located within the airport reserve.

Pedestrian survey of the airport reserve and access road indicated that these areas – with the exception of the ridge traversing the east end of the reserve – were situated in low-lying, wet terrain with low potential for archaeological resources. In contrast, the ridge was an elevated, well-drained landform near Trout Lake, and thus had moderate-to-high potential for archaeological resources. All of the ridge lying within the airport reserve will be removed and used as gravel for construction of the airstrip. This area was assessed through pedestrian survey and the excavation of 78 shovel tests.

Both existing gravel pits had low potential for undisturbed archaeological sites. Gravel extraction from the Sliding Hill source will not require expansion of the pit into undisturbed terrain. While gravel extraction the Monster Lake source will require enlargement of the pit, gravel will be removed in the direction of a previously cleared winter road.

The field survey resulted in the recording of a small historic camp. Located at the eastern foot of the ridge in the airport reserve, this camp consists of several axe-cut stumps and a rusted lard can. This camp was deemed too recent to be recorded as an archaeological site. No archaeological sites will be impacted as a result of the project.

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