In 1992, a labour dispute that would last 18 months tore Yellowknife apart, culminating in an explosion that killed nine miners. The fallout of one of Canada’s largest mass murders still lingers in this northern city.
Today, Yellowknife only tangentially resembles its history as a gold mining town. The city sits atop the Canadian Shield, a large expanse of ancient bedrock, one of the world’s richest areas in terms of its mineral ores.
But a dilapidated mining headframe is one of the last vestiges of the area’s days as a gold mining capital. The city’s biggest gold mine has been closed for decades.
Giant Mine showered the city in prosperity but also cloaked it in darkness: the site of an 18-month labour dispute that divided the city, pitted neighbours, friends, and spouses against each other and devolved into murder on Sept. 18, 1992.
Nine miners were killed. The fallout of that day — one of Canada’s largest mass murders — can still be seen in the city, the toxins left behind and the ongoing push for stronger labour laws 30 years later.
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