Back in 2019, Jackson Whyte and his younger brother were out in the yard of the Widewater home the family had moved to not long before.

“My little brother saw something sticking out of the dirt,” he says.

It was the skull of a mink.

It turned out to be the start of something big and getting bigger all the time for the amateur historian. While we’re at it, we might as well also call him an amateur archaeologist, zooarchaeologist and historical archivist.

Whyte has done a couple of formal digs on the family property. He’s also been collecting news clippings, photos and other historical documents from the area. He’s just gotten permission to do a dig on another Widewater property, and says he’ll consider other offers.

“I’ve got thousands of documents,” he says.

He’s also got a lot of mink bones. He brought a sample in to The Leader office recently, all separated by bone type, in labeled plastic compartments.

Another such display contains manufactured items also dug up in Widewater. Buttons, badges, coins.

Jackson Whyte

Whyte says he has always been interested in history, but had no notion of turning it into a hobby when that mink skull turned up four years ago. It sparked something, and has taken off. Now he’s thinking of studying museum science in university.

“But university is expensive, so I’m saving up,” he says.

In his spare time, he collects items of local historical value, catalogues them and stores them.

“One day, if and when Slave Lake has a museum, I’d like to donate them,” he says.

He’d also like to create a digital archive, so people can see the things he’s compiled online.

“One day, I hope,” he says.

For more information, Whyte can be contacted at 587-516-9014.

A collection of mink bones dug up by Jackson Whyte on a property in Widewater.
An old gas lantern
Another domestic artifact recently dug up in Widewater.
One generation’s junk is another generation’s archaeological treasure.
More remnants from the once-thriving mink industry on the south shore, discovered by Jackson Whyte on his parents’ property in Widewater. Finding a mink skull is what sparked his interest and got him started on his new hobby.

by Joe McWilliams

This item copyrighted by / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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