Archaeological Investigations for the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2013-002)

In 2013, Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. conducted an archaeological inspection tour on behalf of the Joint Venture (JV) that operates the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road. The objective of this work was to monitor the protected archaeological sites that have been identified through past fieldwork in the area. The work was conducted under Northwest Territories Class 2 Archaeologist’s Permit 2013-002 held by Jean Bussey.

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road runs from the south end of Tibbitt Lake near Yellowknife to almost the north end of Contwoyto Lake in Nunavut. In the past, the ice road was utilized every winter, but since the winter of 2008-2009 it has not been routinely constructed past the north of Lac de Gras due to a lack of mining activity. Because of this, the 2013 archaeological investigations were limited to the portion of the ice road south of Lac de Gras.

In previous years, a number of archaeological sites located near the winter road or its associated developments (such as gravel pits and camps) were marked by stakes to ensure avoidance during winter activities. The archaeological investigations associated with this permit involved visiting the marked archaeological sites and inspecting their condition as well as the condition of their markers. In total, there are seven sites along portages or near camps that are protected from accidental impact by the installation of markers, including one site in Nunavut. Whenever possible, these markers are at least 30 metres from the sites, but in some instances this is not possible because road development occurred prior to archaeological investigations. Five of these sites are south of Lac de Gras and were revisited in 2013; an unmarked site near an exhausted gravel source was also revisited. In addition, at three gravel sources, the maximum extent of borrowing has been defined by markers and these locations were examined from the air and/or ground.

At each location where there are archaeological sites that might be affected by ongoing winter road activity, damaged or insecure stakes were replaced and the tops of all markers were sprayed with fluorescent paint to make them more visible in winter. The markers at one developing gravel source were also examined and repainted. The only concern identified involved a site near Lockhart Lake camp and that issue has been resolved by the proposed installation of an additional cement barrier to protect KjPa-1.

(Edited by Morgan Moffitt, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)