Bobby Porritt fonds

Title Bobby Porritt fonds
Dates of creation 1928-1984
Physical description 8.2 m of textual material and other materials
Administrative history or biographical sketch Robert "Bobby" Porritt (1905-1984) was born in Leeds, England. He came to Canada with his family in 1912, and they moved to a homestead farm near Jarvie, Alberta in 1915. He moved to the Northwest Territories circa 1927, spending a couple of years as a carpenter on projects in Fort Smith, Fort Simpson and Fort Resolution. He remained in Fort Resolution working as the first Canadian Airways agent [1927?]. During his years in Fort Resolution, he also worked as postmaster [1930?] and spent seven years in the fur trade with Northern Traders. In 1938, he started the Fort Resolution Lumber Company, which supplied lumber around the lake, particularly for Yellowknife buildings such as the Old Stope Hotel. Porritt spent some time in Yellowknife, coordinating lumber orders, and claims to have built the first Yellowknife school in 1939. The lumber business led to a water freight business, Robert Porritt Transportation, which appears to have been based in Yellowknife [1944-1949?]. In 1949, Porritt moved to Hay River and set up a general store, a fur trading business and an insurance agency. He established the short-lived Great Slave Industries in 1969, planning to build a marina in Hay River, and was involved in the revival of the sawmill in Fort Resolution during the same year. He continued to trade furs until his death.

Active politically for many years, Porritt ran for the Yellowknife Town Council in 1945. He lost his first bid for the Northwest Territories Legislative Council in 1951, but was successful in 1954, 1957 and 1964, spending almost ten years on the NWT Council (1954-1960, 1964-1967). He also lost bids for election to the NWT Council in 1960, 1967 and 1970. As a member of the Council, he was particularly interested in issues such as transportation, native welfare, health care, fisheries, trapping, education, the postal service, and the Hay River economy. He was also active in local politics and local organizations. He was appointed to the Hay River Board of Trustees in 1950, and spent at least seven years on the Board of Trustees, municipal and town councils for Hay River. He was president of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Lands and Parks Committee, and a member of the local Health Board, the Hospital Committee, the Public Works Committee, and the Kiwanis Club. Bobby Porritt died in 1984.
Scope and content This fonds consists of 754 photographs, 95 postcards, 23 audio reels and 2 audio cassettes, 29 maps and 8.2 meters of textual records created and accumulated by Robert "Bobby" Porritt from the 1920s until his death in 1984. The records include correspondence, Porritt's notes, accounting records, banking records, other business records, records pertaining to the Northwest Territories Legislative Council (consisting primarily of copies), memorabilia, Jock McMeekan's records, a few annual reports and newsletters, some posters and ephemera, newspaper clippings, maps and plans, sound recordings, and photographs. In particular, the records document Porritt's occupational and political activities, his personal interests and his relationships with many friends and family members.

The correspondence, in particular is an excellent record of the economic, social and political aspects of life in Hay River from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. Porritt appears to have maintained intense personal contacts with the majority of the people in the Hay River area, including considerable correspondence with aboriginal hunters and trappers, who had become friends of Porritt. Also well documented is the Fort Resolution community in the 1930s, through correspondence and business records of the Fort Resolution Lumber Company. Since Porritt was Member of the Legislative Council for Mackenzie South, the records include correspondence with various other members of Council (e.g. Commissioner Ben G. Sivertz and John Goodall) and members of parliament. These letters contain discussion about political and bureaucratic issues facing Council before the move of the territorial government to Yellowknife in 1967. Unusually active in local organizations, Porritt's papers contain correspondence on behalf of these organizations. His interest in all aspects of his community, the north, and the world in general, are revealed in the magazines, ephemera, posters and other types of items he collected. The photographs taken and collected by Porritt cover a wide variety of subjects and dates. Photographs of family members, friends, business colleagues, communities and special interests such as aircraft and marine transportation are predominating.

In 1986, the NWT Archives received some 70 linear meters of records of Bobby Porritt, which included newspapers and government publications. Although the records had survived a flood and subsequent repacking, virtually no original order was discernible. Arrangement of series is by type of record, with the correspondence arranged in somewhat more detail than most other series. The photographs were sorted according to several subject categories.
Restrictions No access restrictions.
Copyright Possible copyright restrictions.
Physical description note This fonds includes: 8.2 meters of textual records; 754 photographs; 24 audio recordings, 95 postcards and 29 maps.
Finding aids Series level inventory for textual material available. Indexed item level inventory for photographs and postcards available.
Reference # 256
Accessions list The fonds is comprised of the following accessions. Click any accession number below to see the accession description.
N-1987-016 N-1992-087