ca. 1929. Oblong Quarto (ca. 18x30 cm). 65 card stock leaves (27 blank). With 162 original gelatin silver snapshot photographs, including three two-part panoramas ca. 7x24,5 cm (2 ¾ x 9 ½ in), 123 photos ca. 8x14 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ½ in) or slightly smaller, and thirty-six small snapshots ca. 4x6 cm (1 ½ x 2 ¼ in); with one real photo postcard ca. 8,5x13,5 cm (3 ½ x 5 ¼ in) and seven small studio photos ca. 6x8 cm (2 ½ x 3 in). Two photos with period ink manuscript captions on versos, some photos with period numbers on versos; studio photos and the real photo postcard captioned in negative. Several photos with the ink stamps of “Esch’s Prints, not to fade” on versos. Period brown faux leather album fastened with a string, handwritten title on the front board. a couple of images very mildly faded, but overall a very good album or strong interesting images.
Historically significant large collection of original snapshot images illustrating the early years of gold and other precious metals prospecting around Great Slave Lake, which led to the opening of the first gold mine in the Northwest Territories (1938) and the foundation of Yellowknife (1934). Dated “1929” by the compiler, the album is most likely related to the activities of the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company of Canada (Cominco). Formed in 1906, the company did a wide-scale exploration of natural deposits in the Northwest Territories in 1927-1929; one of the parties led by a noted prospector Ted Nagle (1898-1989) discovered lead and zinc deposits on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, the future site of the major Pine Point Mine.
The album consists of two main parts separated with a blank leaf. The first part of over 120 photos depicts the 1929 prospecting trip to the Great Slave Lake and contains numerous views of the lake and the nearby rivers, some taken from the nearby hills (likely, Athabasca, Slave and Mackenzie Rivers). Over thirty photos show the prospectors and their camps (baking bread, unpacking boxes of “Blue Ribbon Ltd. Baking Powder”), travelling around in native canoes, taking rock samples; one portrait of “Alan” shows a prospector laden with two heavy backpacks. Interesting photos show local settlements, including Fort Resolution (the wharf, wooden building and the church onshore) and possibly Fort Rae. The two captioned photos depict “The Lake getting rough. Resolution, N.W.T.” and “The Resolution wharf from the 2nd-floor agency.”
Over a dozen images show various lake and riverboats, including Hudson’s Bay Company’s “Athabasca River” and “Distributor” stern-wheelers going under the Company’s flag, docked or unloading cargo onshore; RCMP small sailboat “Resolution,” “Peter Pond” treaty boat and “Speed II” schooner, barges, canoes etc. Six photos depict the first airplanes in the Northwest Territories – Fokker Super Universal monoplanes operated by the “Western Canada Airways Ltd.” since 1926. The photos show the planes taking off and unloading cargo on ice, with the numbers G-CASM and G-CASQ clearly seen; one photo details on a pilot trying to fix his plane’s propeller next to a group of spectators – most likely it was C.H. “Punch” Dickins, the chief pilot of the “Western Canada Airways” who transported the “Cominco” prospectors and cargo to the Great Slave Lake area in 1929 (see more: Nagle, T. Zinovich J. The Prospector North of Sixty. Edmonton, 1989). The other photos show piles of fuel drums, portraits of the First Nations people (including a small image of a group of girls from a residential school), and others. The second part of the album depicts several industrial facilities, apparently in Alberta (a factory, pipelines, a dam, a coal mine with a truck of the “Penn Coal” company, etc.) The real photo postcard shows the CPR viaduct in Lethbridge, the studio photos show Blairmore, Coleman, Crowsnest Pass (Alberta), Cranbrook (BC), the Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide (NWT).
We found very similar or identical photos to the ones from our album in the fond of Robert “Bobby” Porritt (1905-1984) from the Northwest Territories Archives (https://www.nwtarchives.ca/fonds_display.asp?Fonds_Number=256). This helped to identify the location of two photos (wharf at Fort Resolution and Dawson Landing near future Pine Point Mine), and the personality of a pilot on the other photo (most likely, C.H. “Punch” Dickins). Overall a valuable original source on the history of early prospecting on the Great Slave Lake, adding greatly to the existing materials in the public holdings.
A list of photos from the Bobby Porritt fonds similar or identical to the ones from our album:
1) [Identical] “Dawson Landing about 3 miles from Pine Point. The early prospecting of the lead-zinc deposits was serviced from this wharf. Named after C.B. Dawson, one of the first engineers to work on this property from 1921 until 1931. Picture taken 1929. [Speed II boat and airplane YV. Moored to dock]” https://www.nwtarchives.ca/item_display.asp?Accession_Number=N-1987-016&Item_Number=0507
2) [From the same series] “Fort Resolution wharf. [Hay wagon]” https://www.nwtarchives.ca/item_display.asp?Accession_Number=N-1987-016&Item_Number=0570
3) [From the same series] “Western Canada Airways. Mail, fur, express. Fur $1 /lb. to McMurray. 1928. [Buck Buchanan, Robert Porritt, unidentified man Working on engine of Fokker Super-Universal airplane, 1931?]”https://www.nwtarchives.ca/item_display.asp?Accession_Number=N-1987-016&Item_Number=0463
4) [From the same series] “Working on the motor. [Buck Buchanan, an unidentified man working on the engine of Fokker Super-Universal airplane]”https://www.nwtarchives.ca/item_display.asp?Accession_Number=N-1987-016&Item_Number=0464.
Price: $1,750.00 USD