Slater River Exploration Program

Michelle Wickham (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2011-015)

In September of 2011, on behalf of Husky Oil Operations Limited, at the request of MWH, Bison Historical Services Ltd. carried out a survey for heritage sites southeast of Norman Wells in the Sahtu Region of the NT. Investigations were aimed at satisfying two objectives: a pre-impact examination of all areas that may be impacted by the 2011/2012 development activities to ensure any unrecorded heritage resource locations will be avoided by current development activities, and to relocate a known archaeological site (LgRs-2).

Michelle Wickham and Joe Moravetz of Bison Historical Services Ltd., Calgary, AB, assisted by Shaun Etchinelle of Tulita, NT, who acted as a wildlife monitor and local advisor, carried out the field investigations. Fieldwork was based out of Norman Wells and was carried out by helicopter and on foot. Investigations focused on high potential areas within the 3-D seismic area. Other areas specifically addressed during this assessment consisted of locations where construction activities will take place: the winter access road, the base camp, construction camp, two helipads, the security shack, staging area, the two well leases H64 and N9, as well as the shoreline of the fourteen water sources.

The 3-D seismic area was repeatedly overflown in systematic grids at low elevation and slow speed to facilitate the identification of any possible heritage concerns. Each location noted above, where construction activities will take place, was identified from the air and a low elevation, slow spiraling over flight was conducted directly over each locality. Given the lack of topographic relief, the observation of muskeg, black spruce, and in some cases standing water and or existing disturbance (along the access road or existing seismic lines) the majority of these locations were identified as possessing low heritage resource potential. As such, the over flights and photographic documentation were deemed an appropriate level of assessment.
Areas that were identified as high potential from the air and pre-field map analysis; well drained areas with topographic relief, areas with the potential for soil development, as well as specific locations along the Slater River and smaller creek banks were further assessed through pedestrian and subsurface testing. Pedestrian survey and subsurface testing was conducted at 10 locations within the Slater River Exploration Program, 180 shovel tests were excavated, all yielded negative results.

Pre-field investigations consisted of a review of known site data to ensure that no previously recorded sites were jeopardized by the planned development. Three known sites lie within 200 metres of Husky’s land parcels, however only one (LgRs-2), occurs close to any of the currently proposed development activities. LgRs-2 was recorded in 2003 as a collapsed tripod with insulators and wire, part of the CN communications line installed around 1960.

During this investigation, the tripod was relocated, the insulator and wires are still in good condition; however, the wooden poles are starting to decompose. LgRs-2 is located approximately 1.4km north of the access road and will not be impacted by Husky’s currently proposed construction activities.

No previously unidentified heritage sites were identified within the Slater River Exploration Program. The proposed 2011/2012 Husky Oil Operations Limited, Slater River Exploration Program will not impact any know heritage sites.

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