George Clinton Buffum was born August 13, 1896, in Table Grove, Illinois, United States. His family later moved to Teulon, Manitoba. George lied about his age and joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and then served with the Canadian military in World War I. Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s, he moved to Behchoko (formerly Fort Rae).
By 1934, Buffum was the manager of the Northern Traders Ltd. trading post. This trading post, which had been purchased from Hislop and Nagle in 1912, operated in Behchoko until 1938. Upon its closure, Buffum went to work for or with James ‘Jim’ Darwish, an independent trader based in Behchoko since 1925.
George Buffum married Louise Evelyn (born 1908, birth surname unknown) on July 8, 1934, in Behchoko. George and Louise met when she had been a nurse for George's ailing father. Louise and George corresponded for a few years before Louise moved to Behchoko and they were married.
The Buffum home often served as a stop over for many pilots and their passengers and consequently the Buffums were well known by many of the northern bush pilots.
George and Louise’s daughter Marylyn "Lyn" G. Buffum (married name Marylyn Orchuk, later Marylyn Orchuk-Payne) was born in Edmonton on January 28, 1936. Louise and Lyn stayed in the south until the summer of 1937, when they moved back to Behchoko.
George Buffum ran the trading post after Jim Darwish moved to Edmonton in 1941. At some point between 1938 and 1944, Buffum and Darwish became business partners. Buffum then became the sole proprietor of the trading post following Darwish’s death in 1944. Buffum continued to operate the trading post in Behchoko until his departure from the community.
The Buffum family moved south in 1946 because of George’s concerns for Lyn’s education. In 1947, Buffum rented the trading post and his former house to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for the department to operate a Day School and provide a furnished teacher’s residence. In 1948, Buffum sold his property, including chattels, to the same federal department.
George Buffum continued to visit the north in the summers until approximately 1951 or 1952.
George Clinton Buffum died September 18, 1968. Louise Evelyn Buffum died in 1979. Marylyn ‘Lyn’ Orchuk-Payne died July 26, 2019.
John "Jock" Murray McMeekan was born on January 3, 1903 in London, England and raised in Scotland. He studied romance languages and geology at London University for two years before immigrating to Canada. Between the years 1925 and 1935, he traveled across Canada writing and editing for various newspapers and prospecting for mining operations. In 1935, he arrived in Yellowknife and was employed by Burwash Yellowknife Mines to do prospecting, geological work and mapping. In 1940, Jock McMeekan started publishing the "Yellowknife Blade" which he published sporadically until 1953. In 1953, he moved to Uranium City in Saskatchewan and began publishing the "Uranium Era", which ran until 1960. He restarted the "Yellowknife Blade" in 1960, but stopped publishing it when he became associated with the "Mackenzie Press" in Hay River in 1962. He remained with the "Mackenzie Press" for only a short period and in 1963, he began publishing "The Hay River Optimist", which ran until his death on September 16, 1963. Jock's interest in prospecting and the mining industry is reflected in a number of his activities including his help in establishing the Prospectors Association and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series "The Prospector Speaks" which aired between 1960 and 1962.
Mildred Itasca Hall was born in Iowa on October 23, 1899 and emigrated with her family to Olds, Alberta. She studied at the University of Alberta and became a schoolteacher. She moved to Yellowknife in 1938, and became the first public school teacher in the Northwest Territories. She married Jock McMeekan in 1941 and worked with him in the printing and publishing of the "Yellowknife Blade". She and Jock were devoted naturalists and loved to explore the land around Yellowknife. Mildred was intent on using whatever nature provided, picking berries and preserving food in the root cellar for the winter. Mildred also worked to publish her husband's works after his death, but died May 4, 1974 in Victoria B.C. before the project was completed. A former employee Gladys McCurdy Gould completed Mildred's work and published "Jock McMeekan's Yellowknife Blade" in 1984.
In 1948, Jock and Mildred accepted responsibility for raising Mildred's five-year-old niece, Hélène. Hélène (previously Giles, Henderson) Acikahte currently lives in Edmonton.
Tom and Elizabeth McCallum (nee McCoubrey) operated the Yellowknife Lumber Company Ltd. sawmill, located near Fort Resolution, during the late 1930s and 1940s.
F.A. (Frank) McCall was born in Edmonton, Alberta on June 7, 1920. He attended public school in Edmonton and high school at Alberta College, where his father was principal. McCall began working at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company Ltd. (Con Mine) in Yellowknife between 1940-41, before enlisting in the military in 1941. In 1945, Frank McCall married Grace Howells in Banff, Alberta, upon his return from service with the RCAF in Britain. The couple had one daughter, Keltie, and two sons, Laurents and Owen. Returning to the North to work for the Federal Government, McCall held the position of game warden for Fort Chipewyan, Alberta and Wood Buffalo National Park. Frank McCall became Chief Game Warden at Aklavik (1948-1952), Chief Warden and Administrator at Fort Smith (1953-1957), Regional Administrator (including Mining Recorder and Land Agent) at Yellowknife (1957-1961), and Mining Recorder and Land Agent at Whitehorse (1961-1965). In 1966, Frank McCall took a position with the Federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Ottawa. The McCall family then returned to Yellowknife in 1967, where Frank McCall held the Regional Administrator position until 1970. Frank McCall moved to Ottawa in 1971 and continued to work for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development until his retirement in 1977.
Ole Lindberg moved to Canada from Sweden in 1910 and traveled west across Canada by working on the railway. He moved north from Edmonton in search of gold. Ole met Anna in 1921 and spent one winter living with her family. Eventually Ole and Anna married and had four children. Ole did some prospecting with men such as Dick Turner and Albert Faille, however he was primarily a trapper. In the 1940s, Ole began operating a barge to haul freight on the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers. Edwin Lindberg was born on June 16, 1929 near Blackstone. The family was forced to leave the Nahanni region in 1950 because of the tuberculosis epidemic. Ole and one of Edwin's brothers died during the epidemic and Edwin spent eight years in hospital in Edmonton. Following his release from hospital Edwin worked briefly at a power plant in Fort Simpson. He soon left that job and returned to the work of hauling freight on the Mackenzie River. In 1963, Edwin married Susan, a nurse in Fort Simpson and they lived on a tugboat until 1970. Edwin continued to run the freight business until 1978, when he and Susan returned to the Liard River and Nahanni Butte region. They were visited by many people and decided to turn their home into a lodge for tourists.
Sam Lennie was born on August 29, 1928 at Horton River, NT and Margaret Lennie was born on November 25, 1930 at Coppermine (Kugluktuk), NT. They currently reside in Inuvik, NT.
Gus Kraus was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA on October 28, 1898. In 1916 at the age of 18 he left Chicago and headed north to Alberta with his brother Joe to homestead in the Peace River area. After about ten years Gus travelled further north to the Northwest Territories, where he prospected and trapped in the Nahanni region beginning around 1934.
Mary Kraus (nee Denya) was born in 1912 near Fort Liard. Orphaned at the age of two, she was raised by family for several years until she went to a convent [Fort Simpson or Fort Providence?] for six years. In her earlier years she primarily lived on the land with her family in the Nahanni region. She was fluent in English, French and South Slavey.
Mary and Gus met when a forest fire in the Nahanni region in the summer of 1942 destroyed much of Gus' belongings, while they were able to save Mary's goods on an island on the Liard River. They formed a partnership and were married, eventually adopting a son, Mickey. They resided at Gus' lease at the Liard Hot Springs (now named the Kraus Hot Springs) in winter, where they trapped, and Nahanni Butte where in the summers they cooked for oil exploration crews. Their hospitality was well-known, and they received many visitors, including Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. When the Nahanni National Park was created in 1971, the Krauses resettled at Little Doctor Lake, where they continued to receive many of the tourists and visitors who came to the region until they resettled closer to Nahanni Butte in 1989.
Gus Kraus died at the Fort Simpson hospital on December 1, 1992. Mary Kraus died in Fort Simpson in November 2007.
Cyril Nordheimer Kenny "Nordie" Kirk was born September 16, 1911 in Toronto, Ontario. Having joined the RCMP in 1934, Nordie Kirk was Sub-Inspector (1943) and Inspector (1944) aboard the Hudson Bay Company supply ship the R.M.S. "Nascopie" on its annual resupply trips in the Eastern Arctic. Inspector Kirk's responsibilities included inspecting northern RCMP detachments and their personnel, and acting as Coroner in criminal investigations in the Eastern Arctic. Communities visited during these times included Churchill, Southampton Island, Chesterfield Inlet, Lake Harbour, Pangnirtung, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Fort Ross.
In May 1945 Nordie married Leona Esima Marie Shank-Boileau (b. September 23, 1917, Cache Bay, ON) in Ottawa Ontario. In June 1945 they traveled the Mackenzie river aboard the S.S. Distributor to Aklavik, where Nordie Kirk became the Officer in Charge of the RCMP Sub-Division there from July 1945 to July 1948.
As Officer in Charge, OC Kirk carried out patrols in Aklavik, Arctic Red River (now Tsiigehtchic), Fort McPherson, Tuktoyaktuk, Herchel Island, and Old Crow. Many duties were performed on behalf of other federal government departments such as registrar of vital statistics, mining recorder, customs collector and distribution of government allowances. Besides conducting investigations and reports, detachment duties such as hauling ice for water, splitting wood for stoves, fishing for dog food, painting buildings, and maintaining boats and motors occupied Nordie's time. Leona, as the wife of an RCMP officer, met and entertained a wide variety of people from all walks of life. Visiting the Anglican Mission, Signals Corp. gatherings and parties at Peffer’s Store/Restaurant were social highlights in Aklavik.In July 1946, Leona's sister Cpl. (Canadian Women’s Army Corp.) Yvette Boileau (now Park) visited them for a month. In 1947 Leona was flown to Ottawa via Norman Wells, Edmonton, and Toronto for the birth of their child Brian in Ottawa, ON.
In July 1948 Nordie was posted to the RCMP Sub-Division in Dauphin, MB, and the family moved from Aklavik, ending their time in the North. C.N.K. "Nordie" Kirk continued a successful career in the RCMP, achieving the rank of Assistant Commissioner. He retired from the RCMP in 1969 with 35 years maximum service, and had a second career for ten years in the Federal civil service. He died on May 26, 1981 in Ottawa. Leona Kirk remained active in several service and recreation clubs in the Ottawa region, including the Ottawa Ladies Curling Club, the Eastern Ontario Ladies Curling Association, the RCMP Veterans Association and the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club until her death in Ottawa on June 29, 2006.
Jack Densem was born in Toronto in 1918. After graduating from school he began working for Remington Rand. In 1941 he took a leave of absence from his work to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) In 1945, Jack Densem spent six weeks in Ottawa where he received advanced training as a wireless mechanic. In 1946, he was sent on a special assignment to Yellowknife. In Yellowknife, he along with three other men from the R.C.A.F. were placed under the temporary supervision of Lieutenant Myers of the United States Navy. These men worked on an experimental signals project. They studied aerial photographs taken at fifteen minute intervals and then calculated the correctional measures needed to take into account the effects of the magnetic pull of the North Pole upon radio signal communication systems. This information was then sent to the United States Navy in Washington who produced final correctional charts. Densem spent nine months in Yellowknife in 1946. During this time, he met Isabelle McMillan who was working for Mrs. Swanson at the Busy Bee Café. Jack and Isabelle were married in Edmonton in 1946. In 1946, Jack Densem was discharged from the R.C.A.F. and returned to his old job at Remington Rand in Toronto. Jack and Isabelle remained in Toronto until his retirement from Remington Rand in 1988. At that time, the couple retired to Langley, British Columbia.
James Cree was born in Dundee Scotland in 1904. In 1925, he immigrated to Canada and began working for the trading company Revillon Freres, Ltd. He left the employ of Revillon Freres in 1929 to work for the T. Eaton Company in Edmonton. In 1932, he was hired by Northern Traders, Ltd. to run a trading post in Fort Smith. While working in Fort Smith, he married Gladys, who had moved to Edmonton in 1918 and had worked for Revillon Freres. Between the years 1932 and 1938, Gladys and James Cree operated trading posts for the Northern Traders, Ltd. in Fort Smith, Fort Rae, Fort Norman and Fort Simpson. In 1938, they ended their association with Northern Traders and established an independent trading post in Fort Simpson. They ran this post until 1963 when they retired to Victoria, British Columbia. During these years as independent traders, they also acted as local agents for Imperial Oil and Canadian Pacific Airlines.
Frank Conibear was born in Plymouth England on August 23, 1896, but moved to Ontario with his family when he was three. His family settled in Fort Resolution in 1912, becoming the first independent white family to settle in the Northwest Territories. In 1916, the Conibear's relocated to Fort Smith. At this time, he set up his own trapline on the Talston River, which gradually became extended 320 km into the barrenlands. He earned extra income by acting as a guide during the summers for mineral and survey crews. While in Minnesota, in 1923, Frank Conibear met and married Cecelia Powell, returning to Fort Smith to live. In their time, Frank and Cecelia also owned and managed a hotel and cafe. While operating his trapline Frank became concerned with the use of leg-hold traps. He considered the leg-hold trap to be inhumane and following his discharge from the Canadian Army in 1919, he began work on a replacement to the leg-hold trap. By the 1950s, he had perfected his trap and in 1958, a company began mass production of the Conibear trap utilized by most trappers. He died in March, 1988 at the age of 91.
Ron and Bev Hall and their three young children lived in Wrigley (Pehdzeh Ki) from 1971-72. Ron was initially employed as a basic upgrading instructor under the Territorial Department of Education, but transitioned into community education and development under the Department of Local Government with the aim of establishing a settlement council, training settlement administrators, and implementing community programs for social and economic development. Bev was also active in the community, providing assistance in establishing a bilingual early childhood program, community library, handicraft industry, and coffee shop. She also served as a relief teacher. Their interest in Wrigley continued even after they left the community and they have made several return trips over the years.
Richard Henry Charles LeBreton Ross was born in Winnipeg in 1907. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1929 and began working as an assayer at a mill in Trail, B.C. He moved to Kimberly, B.C. in 1938 and began working for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company. He was married to Dorothy (b. 1908) in Kimberly, B.C. in 1939 and his daughter, Carol (now married to Elliott Starr), was born in 1940. In February 1941, Richard Ross moved to Yellowknife to assist with the construction of the Thompson-Lundmark mill at Thompson Lake. In the summer of 1941 he was joined at the Thompson-Lundmark mine site by his wife and daughter. In the fall of 1941, he transferred to Ptarmigan Mines. His daughter Patsy was born in 1942 and when the mining operation shut down in 1942, the Ross family moved back to Trail, B.C. In 1946, they returned to Yellowknife and Richard again worked for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company at Con Mine. Lynn and Roderick Ross were born in 1947 and were the first white twins born in Yellowknife. The family left Yellowknife in 1952 and in 1957, moved to New York. During their time in Yellowknife Richard Ross became involved with the establishment of the Yellowknife Children's Aid Society and was elected the first Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1951.
Leo Ranney lived in McConnelsville, Ohio and his brother W.C. Ranney lived in Yellowknife. Between 1938 and 1939, they were involved in business dealings with Negus Mines and mining claims around the Yellowknife area.
The Gruben family of Tuktoyaktuk have lived, hunted and trapped in that area for generations. Frequent trips to Mary Sachs, near Sachs Harbour on Banks Island, were made by the family, usually aboard the North Star. The family hunted polar bear, fox and other animals on Banks Island, then returned to the Mackenzie Delta to trade. John William Rubin[sic] and Mary (Mercy) Talegomik wed May 1, 1914. Mary was the daughter of Nalrakbaaluk, born in 1865, and Ananaq. John and Mary Gruben's children are Emma, Helen, Charlie, Willie and Eddie. Emma's son is Charles Gruben (Angun). Helen's daughter was Nellie Gruben. Charlie Gruben married Persis and had two daughters, Sarah and Agnes. Eddie Gruben married Alice Cockney, daughter of Nuligak, who had a daughter, Millie. Many other family members continue to reside in Tuktoyaktuk.
John Firth came to the North in the 1870s as a Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) employee. His service with the HBC included time as manager of the Fort McPherson Post. Among his experiences were varieties of conflicts among the native people, which he helped to resolve. Following John Firth's retirement in 1921, the management of his HBC post was passed on to family members, first son-in-law Jack Parsons and later John Firth's son William. Wally Firth, grandson of John Firth, was elected New Democratic Party (NDP) representative to the Canadian Federal Parliament in the 1970s and was the first native to be elected to the Parliament of Canada.
David Henry worked as a welder and boilermaker for the Imperial Oil Company on the oil drilling efforts in the Norman Wells region during the early 1920s. He lived in High River before World War I. He was injured in a streetcar accident and died in an Edmonton hospital in 1925. His daughter, Davina Henry was born on April 12, 1914 and lived in Yellowknife from 1950 to 1968. She lived in a home overlooking Back Bay and worked in a variety of businesses including: Yellowknife Bakery, Hodgson Store, Macara's Laundry at Giant Mine, and Weaver and Devore's. She retired to southern Canada and currently lives in Red Deer, Alberta.
Raymond and Mildred Wood were amateur botanists interested in photographing and collecting flowers indigenous to the Arctic. They made four trips to the north between 1956 and 1959 the first being to Churchill, Manitoba. They also visited Baker Lake, Coppermine and Herschel Island, Yukon. They left Edmonton in June 24, 1959 and after spending several days at the school residence in Aklavik, arrived at Herschel Island on July 2, 1959. During their stay, they lived with the officers stationed at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment. They left Herschel Island on July 17, 1959. The purpose of the trip was to photograph and collect flowers that grew on the island.