A relic from Giant Mine’s heyday is whole once again – thanks to a little TLC from some locals.
Among rusting vehicles and machinery lining the Giant Mine boat launch parking lot is the former gold mine’s first-ever fire truck. For the past five years, the pumper truck has been missing a door – until this week.
Peter Houweling, general manager at Kavanaugh Brothers Ltd, donated his time to weld the long-missing door back into place.
“Peter’s a great guy,” said Ryan Silke, director of the Yellowknife Historical Society. “It’s just a good demonstration of the community’s interest in helping us out with this display.”
In 2015, someone cut the truck’s door off its hinges and stole it. Silke said the truck already had its windshield smashed long before that.
“I went out there just to do some routine work at the site and I noticed there was a gaping hole in the truck,” Silke recalled. “That was kind-of a shock.”
After the case gained media attention, Silke said the door – which reads “Giant Yellowknife Mines Limited” in yellow letters – was returned, along with an anonymous apology note.
Since then, the door has been sitting in storage. Silke said until recently, he hasn’t had time to have it reattached.
According to Silke, the pumper truck was purchased around 1950, when the mine’s fire department first began operating. The truck ran for 20 years at Giant Mine, he said, until it was replaced with a more modern model.
“Back in those days, Giant Mine was pretty isolated from Yellowknife,” Silke explained. “There was a road, but to get a fire truck from Yellowknife to Giant Mine, it would’ve taken a long, long time.”
The truck is an “iconic piece of Giant Mine,” he said, and has been cared for over the years by former employees.
The Giant Mine boat launch is home to several pieces of machinery from the former gold mine.
The truck is one of several items the society hopes will form part of a mining museum displaying the rich history of mining in and around Yellowknife.
Silke noted volunteers clean up the boat launch parking lot every year, which is a popular public area. People use the vintage vehicles and machinery as a backdrop for photo shoots, he said, and recently a Taiko drumming group used the site to film an annual commemoration of a famous Japanese drummer.
“We just want to make it enjoyable for everybody,” Silke said.