Mould Bay High Arctic Weather Station, Prince Patrick Island, NWT

Grant Clarke (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2010-012)

In August of 2010, IMG-Golder Corporation conducted a Heritage Resources Impact Assessment at the former Mould Bay High Arctic Weather Station on Prince Patrick Island within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories. Mould Bay High Arctic Weather Station was initially established in the spring/summer of 1948 and closed in 1997, when an automated system was installed. The project was completed under Northwest Territories Archaeologist Class 2 Permit #2010-012 issued to Grant Clarke. This study was completed on behalf of Public Works and Government Services Canada, Environment Canada and AECOM and included the assessment of several sections of land slated for site assessment and the remediation of the abandoned station. No prior archaeological sites have been recorded on Prince Patrick Island; however, two historic graves are known at the site.

Procedures employed for this project are considered standard for projects of this nature in the region and entailed pre-field studies, on-ground reconnaissance, site documentation and assessment, reporting and recommendation formulation. Project planning also included provisions for a representative of the local community to accompany the field crew during the field inspection and to provide advice regarding the nature and significance of the sites in the area. Earl Akhiatak and Patrick Akhiatak of Ulukhaktok (Holman) accompanied the team during the assessment.

Three sites were recorded as a result of the archaeological investigations at Mould Bay. Site RbPw-1 is a site with two historic burials that relate to the operation of the Weather Station. One of the graves is that of a young Inuit girl named Zipporah. A petition was put in to the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names in 1977 to have the headland officially designated as Zipporah Point. Sites RbPw 2 (a cache) and RbPw 3 (a stone trap and an inuksualuk) are located well outside of any planned activities and will not be impacted by the proposed remediation.

Some of buildings date to (or very close to) the opening of the site in the late 1940’s / early 1950’s. As such, preliminary information was collected on the state of the buildings to assist the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office in making a determination on whether to classify any of the buildings as Heritage Buildings under the Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property. One of the buildings, the EMR vault was established in 1961 as a control station for magnetic and seismic observations in the western High Arctic.

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