New fund in memory of prisoner-of-war turned ice road expert

Last modified: March 6, 2020 at 5:48am


Adolph Duesterhus, who came from Germany in the 1950s to work the NWT’s mines and ice roads, is remembered in a new scholarship being offered by the Yellowknife Community Foundation.

The scholarship is open to students from Yellowknife pursuing a post-secondary education in a field related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).


Duesterhus, who passed away in 2012 and whose first name can be found spelled both Adolph and Adolf, was considered a friend of the foundation.

On his passing, then-MLA Bob Bromley described Duesterhus as a “remarkable northern pioneer.”

“Adolph came to Canada from Germany after enduring the terrible experiences of war on the Russian front and internment in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp,” said Bromley in 2012.

“He arrived in Canada April 25, 1953, with $8 and a train ticket to Edmonton. Arriving in Edmonton, he answered a Giant Mine job ad, and was in Yellowknife drawing a paycheque within two weeks of stepping off the boat.

“After a year at Giant, Adolph moved to Curry Construction, where he stayed many years running equipment and supplies across the territory; an original ice road catskinner long before the truckers.”


Bromley remembered Duesterhus for his “scholarly passion for advanced physics” and as “a pioneer in the mindscapes of complex mathematics and theory.”

“He was a contributor to scholarly journals,” said Bromley, “and always at work on explanations of phenomena few of us are aware of, let alone understand.”

Robin Greig, president of the Yellowknife Community Foundation, said in a news release: “We are very pleased that Adolph Duesterhus will be commemorated by the establishment of this new scholarship.

“Mr Duesterhus was one of the early pioneers of Yellowknife. This scholarship will memorialize his contribution to our community and help it grow into the future through support for students in STEM fields.”


Applications for a wide range of Yellowknife Community Foundation grants and scholarships opened this week. More information about the Adolph Duesterhus STEM Scholarship is available on the foundation’s website.