Giant Mine sits just outside Yellowknife, northwest Territories on a twisty stretch of the Ingraham Trail and is one of the most recognizable, historic, and polarizing industrial properties in Canada. A gold mine that brought people and countless job opportunities to Yellowknife during its 50+ years of production, it has also been the source of tragedy (see “Murders in the Mine“) and is currently one of the worst environmental situations in our country, containing 237,000 tonnes of highly toxic arsenic trioxide. At the present time, the federal government is well into a lengthy remediation project to clean up much of the site, which includes freezing the arsenic in place deep underground.
Ever since I moved to Yellowknife I have long been fascinated with Giant Mine, as – I’m sure – many northerners have been. The darkest moments of its history happened before I came to town, but I’m sure every single person in Yellowknife who has not yet been onto the mine site – which has been closed to production for about 10 years now - has driven by the mine countless times and wondered, “what’s it like on the other side of the fence?”
This week, I had a bit of a dream assignment for me, given my interest in the mine: this week I was commissioned by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), who oversee the remediation project, to document through photos various areas around the Giant Mine site, as many changes will be happening over the coming decade and many of the buildings in various states of disrepair will be torn down and cleaned up. My trip, then, was a bit of a “historical ddocumentation” project, but one that allowed me a pretty good deal of freedom in what I captured: I was basically told to “go be creative”, which is hat any photographer loves to hear from a client.
Here, then, is a few of my images from this project from the other side of the fence, showing the good, the bad, and the beautiful of the old. In some ways, time has not been kind to this mine, but as a photographer, I look for beauty….and I found a lot to appreciate in the old and decrepit. I end with some of the “new”. I hope you enjoy.