October 5, 1937

c/o C. M. & S. Co. Ltd.

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

Dear Dad:

The via Goldfields part of the address is unnecessary now as there is a proper post office at Yellowknife now.  I noticed that a lot of my mail came thru McMurray in any case.  The parcel, for which I thank you, arrived intact a few days ago.  I am going to save the core of it until freeze-up.  The underwear was very welcome as there has been none in the Commissary for a long time and it is beginning to get quite cold at nights.  It was snowing gently one morning when I got up but it didn’t last long and the snow melted as soon as it touched the ground.  As you guessed we manage to wangle in supplies from Goldfields occasionally with the pilots which is probably safer than transport by mail.  It is hard to realise that freeze-up is so close.  The boats are hoping to make one more trip but it is doubtful if the “Prospector” which is docked here now will get back as the planes only expect to be flying for a week or ten days at the most.  Most of our supplies have come in but as yet there are no moccasins in and they will be needed as soon as freeze-up comes.

We are going to have a resident doctor here but so far no more than his typewriter has arrived.  When he comes I will get my medical examination.

There has been quite an exflux of men lately.  I suppose they don’t want to get caught here over freeze-up.  I think that the last supplies have already been flown out to the 2 main prospector’s camps.  I don’t know what the prospector’s [sic] do in the winter or whether they stay out all through the winter.  Despite the exflux there are still about 160 here at Con. (the name of this Property).  We are starting another shaft now on the Ryan property which adjoins our own and cost the Consolidated half a million (according to a mining paper).  I have picked up small bits of high grade ore near last year’s test shaft in which flakes of gold are plainly visible although my samples are very poor compared to some I have seen.  The ore here is much richer than at Goldfields.  I cannot tell you very much about what happens to the ore.  At the mill now the headframe is practically completed, and the hoists driven by compressed air are being completed.  The power house is in its finishing stages and is absolutely separate from the power unit down here.  It will provide the mine and mill lighting and the power for the equipment in the mill.  I believe the mill will be complete when finished, i. e. the pure gold will be extracted and refined and go thru its various stages right here.  I don’t know how all this is done but a lot of machinery has come in.  For instance there is a jaw crusher which breaks the ore into fairly small rocks.  Then comes the ball mill I imagine which probably breaks the rocks down to a powder.  It is a revolving drum filled with solid iron balls about six inches in diameter each.  There will also be an assay office to examine the ore and the gold itself so you can see there is going to be a real concern here some day.

The oil storage tank has been re-lined with cement and several times the heat has been turned off the staff house and redirected into the tank to harden the cement.  It is now finished and we are anxiously awaiting the oil tanker.  There are vague rumours that it has sunk.  This would be disastrous as the oil is very important.  The two tractors are both diesel and they are run by this oil.  Also there must be at least eight diesel engines scattered over the place.  They are used to drive the generators that provide our lights and also the air compressors for the hoist and drill and will later be used to drive the mill machinery so you can see how important oil is to us.

Operations at the mill will be carried on all winter but I expect they will quit working in the second shaft about December.  I don’t know how cold it gets but it is about -60° I suppose and about eight hours day light.  There is not much snow—only two feet I hear.  The length of time for freeze-up varies but is around six weeks during which time radio is the only communication with the outside world.  Naturally we freeze up long before Edmonton or Prince Albert gets any snow which accounts for the length of time.  Last year freeze-up was unusually long because the pririe provinces had a particularly mild fall.  I think we were having our inter-fraternity football games in November last year.

There have been vast changes around the staff-house since I last wrote.  First of all we now have electric light.  This is a very great asset.  Already there are three radios in the staff house not counting radio operator’s outfit.  As yet they don’t work on the long waves as the generators makes [sic] a noise.  For some reason it does not bother the short waves.  Two of the sets are mantel models but Eric has bought a large eight tube Marconi with six wave bands which works very well.  I was listening to London tonight and had all the volume I wanted.  Probably the information about the transmitter did not arrive until after Dick had left.  I wrote him not long ago and told him if that was the case to get it from you as I have forgotten it.  I imagine he has taken his radio with him.

Another luxury that we have now is a dresser for each room and a carpet mat.  Some arm chairs have arrived for the lounge but there won’t be room for them until the office is transferred to its final destination at the mill.  All we want now is the hot water system.

This is all I have to write on now.  I will try and get another letter away before freeze-up if it does not come too soon.

With love from


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