The Aurora Surveyor at Yellowknife NT

by David Bartle (2013)

Aurora Surveyor

The Aurora Surveyor (Photo from the David Bartle collection.)

I was recently visiting my son who now works in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. His landlord was kind enough to take my wife and me on a short water tour of the Yellowknife harbour area where I was able to take lots of photos of the fantastic scenery which includes all the houseboats, supply boats and modified/retired boats. The waterfront is most interesting considering it is so far inland from the sea.

Yellowknife Waterfront

The waterfront at Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. (Photo from the David Bartle collection.)

Accomodation can be difficult to obtain at a reasonable cost in a resource–based city such as Yellowknife and alternative lifestyles can often suit people in such an area. Float homes have to be constructed to withstand the freezing and thawing of the huge freshwater Great Slave Lake (10th largest in the world). There are more than twenty such float homes, and now there is some pressure to create a harbour authority to regulate development on the area’s waterfront and to manage environmental issues.

Aurora Surveyor

Aurora Surveyor (Photo from the David Bartle collection.)

The Aurora Surveyor (ON #344923) was built in 1970 at Hay River NT by the Alem Construction Co. Ltd. (24.7m x 7.3m x 1.7m (90 feet) Steel–hulled 155.85gt gt 105.98rt Twin screw 2–240bhp diesel engines), She was built as a research vessel and last operated as a Ro–Ro freighter. She originally had four posts supporting a wheelhouse so that a Caterpillar tractor could be driven underneath (this now appears to be sheathed–in to create the living space). From 1970–1976 she was owned by Arctic Shallow Marine Ltd., Edmonton Alberta. From 1977–1983 she was owned by Arctic Transportation Ltd., Vancouver BC. From 1984–1990 she was owned by A.Frame Contracting Ltd. (Andy Frame), Saskatoon SK. From 1990–1993 she was owned by Steve McGovern and Wendy Irvine, Yellowknife NT. From 1994–2005 she was owned by Gary R. Vaillancourt, Yellowknife NT. Her official registration was suspended 2005–07–12.

Editor’s Note: The author is a retired Senior Chief Engineer with British Columbia Ferries, and lives on Salt Spring Island BC.

Update Editor’s Note: In November 2013 we received an email from Steve McGovern who was a previous owner of the vessel. He said; "A–Frame Contracting owned the ship only until 1990, at which time my wife (Wendy Irvine) and I bought the ship from Andy Frame. It was in drydock at the NTCL shipyard at the time. We had it launched in June of 1990 and towed across Great Slave Lake by a small workboat, the Hearne Channel, owned by East Arm Freighting. The owners of East Arm Freighting, Dave and Chris, were themselves houseboat owners. We lived on the vessel (at Yellowknife) from the summer of 1990 to September of 1993, whereupon we sold it to Gary Vaillancourt. The ship was moored on the northwest corner of Joliffe Island during that time. After the sale, Gary towed the ship around the island to it’s present location."

Attached to the email were two images of the vessel taken during this period.

Aurora Surveyor

Aurora Surveyor (Great Slave Lake) (Photo from the Steve McGovern and Wendy Irvine collection.)

Aurora Surveyor

Aurora Surveyor (Great Slave Lake) (Photo from the Steve McGovern and Wendy Irvine collection.)

To quote from this article please cite:

Bartle, David (2013) The Aurora Surveyor at Yellowknife NT. 2013.

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