The NWT has a long history of gold mining. Gold was first discovered in 1898. The year 1935 marked the beginning of the NWT gold rush. Gold would be mined around Yellowknife until the late 199s. Companies are now exploring the tundra for gold deposits.
From Great Bear Lake, prospectors fanned out in search of minerals in the Canadian Shield, and gold was first discovered at Yellowknife Bay on Great Slave Lake by Johnny Baker and Herb Dixon in 1933. More rich gold veins were found and staked in 1934 and 1935, resulting in a staking rush and wild exploration and development which led to the founding of the town of Yellowknife by 1937. Johnny Baker’s most interesting gold find was the Burwash located on the east side of Yellowknife Bay.
At that time the only permanent inhabitants of the Yellowknife Bay area were small bands of Dene hunters who were not used to seeing foreign visitors on their traditional territory, but they adapted to new economic opportunities by supplying meat, labor and services to the miners and some even became prospectors themselves. The Burwash Mine did not attain commercial success, but it fueled prospecting activity in the region. In the fall of 1935, a Geological Survey of Canada mapping party under the direction of Dr. Alfred Jolliffe noted visible gold on the west side of Yellowknife Bay, triggering a rush to get claims staked before freeze-up. This led to the discovery and development of the Con Mine, which entered gold production in 1938, the first gold mine in the NWT. Many other mines followed, including the Negus Mine in 1939, Ptarmigan in 1941, Thompson-Lundmark in 1941, Giant in 1948 and Discovery in 1950.