A Return to Cloud Bay, Keith Arm, Great Bear Lake, 2011

Henry Cary (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2011-016)

On 11 August 2011, Kyle Rolling (Asset Manager, Parks Canada Western and Northern Service Centre) and I travelled from Inuvik to Saoyu-?ehdacho National Historic Site to assess the location for a new cabin in Cloud Bay, a small inlet on the Saoyú Peninsula in Keith Arm, Great Bear Lake. The 32 × 20 feet (9.75 × 6.1 m) traditionally-built cabin is to be used as a teaching and healing camp for elders and youth, and accessed by boat or float plane from Deline. Parks Canada had conducted an assessment for this project in 2010 on an adjacent beach (Cary 2010), but this location was rejected in favour of building the cabin further north. Archaeological sites have been found near the study area, most notably an early occupation found by Richard ‘Scotty’ MacNeish on Dog Point in 1951 (Clark 1987), so further assessment was necessary to ensure that remains would not be disturbed during the cabin’s construction.

After landing in Norman Wells, we proceeded to Deline by helicopter, where we picked up Elder Charlie Neyelle, who would select the exact location for the cabin. Landing on the beach in Cloud Bay, we did a brief search of the surrounding area before Charlie selected a cobble bench approximately 160 m inland as the building site. After conducting a thorough surface survey without results, we drove an iron rebar into the ground surface to assess the depth of the cobble. Removing the rebar required excavation, but this also provided an opportunity to archaeologically test the cabin area. After digging below 30 cm, no archaeological deposits or artefacts were found, and the excavation was abandoned. An Ashtech ProMark3 hand-held GPS was then used to map the proposed foundation area, a section from the beach to the study area, and finally the high water mark nearest the cabin location.
On the return trip to Deline I took a series of oblique aerial views of the Deline Fisheries and Fort Franklin National Historic Site Designated Place and, to supplement survey work conducted in 2010, took several direct overhead photographs of the Fort Franklin site property. After dropping off Mr. Neyelle in Deline, we returned to Norman Wells. The Cloud Bay cabin will be constructed in Spring 2012, but will not require further archaeological assessment.


  • Cary, Henry. 2010. Archaeology on Keith Arm, Great Bear Lake, 2010. Preliminary Report submitted in Compliance with NWT Archaeological Permit #2010-003. November 30. Manuscript on file, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife.
  • Clark, Donald W. 1987. Archaeological Reconnaissance at Great Bear Lake. Canadian Museum of Civilization Mercury Series,136. Richard E. Morlan, ed. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.

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