Knut Lang’s Place Territorial Historic Site
Statement of Significance
Knut Lang’s Place is associated with an important economic phase in the development of the NWT, when independent traders such as Knut Lang worked with different local groups in supplying the global fur economy.
Knut Lang’s Place is of territorial heritage value because it is associated with an important economic phase in the development of the Northwest Territories, when independent traders such as Knut Lang worked with different local groups in supplying the global fur economy. Two Gwich’in groups – the Teetł’it Gwich’in from the Peel River and the Ehdiitat Gwich’in from the Mackenzie Delta – as well as Métis and Inuvialuit traded with Knut Lang at his post.
Knut Lang’s Place also holds great value in commemorating a well-liked independent trader, one who is still remembered for his fairness, caring, and generosity. The Aklavik Historic Sites Nomination Community Steering Committee insisted that the site must commemorate the person Knut Lang as much as the camp and the history. It is a tribute to a relationship of respect between non-natives and the local Aboriginal populations. Lang was a community leader and elected to the Territorial Council for many years where he presciently suggested the creation of Nunavut. He also played an active part in the early stages of the hunt for Albert Johnson.
As Knut Lang was of Scandinavian descent, the site also marks the period of globalization of the Mackenzie Delta during the middle of the twentieth century, when people from numerous places lived in or around Aklavik and enjoyed it’s ‘frontier hospitality.’
The site has been reused intermittently after Lang’s death for community oriented camps and as a teaching venue. Numerous buildings are extant. Many of these buildings have sod roofs and distinctive square notched corner construction. Recently, a spruce bark fish house was constructed to demonstrate old ways of building. The heritage value of Knut Lang’s Place lies in both the architecture and continued use of the buildings.
- Its historical connection to the heyday of the muskrat fur trade and the independent trader.
- It is an existing example of the design and construction of a working early 20th century trading post
- Highlights the memory of a well liked, respected, and valuable member and leader of the community.
- Tales of Knut Lang’s generosity and friendliness are part of the region’s oral tradition.
- Its original materials and construction style, dating to its occupation by the builder.
- The vernacular architecture used in the buildings: chinked round-logs, square notch corner construction, sod roofs on some buildings, floors raised on posts.
- Functional ice cellar.
- Its original location on the Peel River at Philips Channel situated on well used travel ways from the Peel River and the mountains.
- An important and appropriate location for young peoples’ education camps.
- Provides a tangible link to Aboriginal oral tradition, place names and traditional practices that help define the site and its associations.
- Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute. 2007. Knut Lang’s Place. Nomination Document prepared for the NWT Historic Places Initiative by GSCI, report on file NWT Cultural Places Program, PWNHC, Yellowknife.