19 March, 2014

Inuvik Part 2


When I left for Inuvik I had to temper my expectations. I've read far too much Farley Mowat, Pierre Burton, and anthropology texts about the Arctic. I had romantic expectations, for sure. The North was going to change me, that I knew for sure. But I told myself to calm down, that I was setting myself up for something that was likely not going to happen. I was, after all, only going up there to teach quilting. It's not like I was on some dog sled through the cold Arctic adventure. Or paddling the MacKenzie. Or hunting a seal. I was flying on a plane to sew. Let's be realistic.

But it did change me. The class itself inspired me as a teacher. The community infected me with a spirit I've never seen before in a community. The cold did not feel all that cold, well, except for one day. The sun shone in a way I've never experienced. And I heard snow unlike the crunch or swish I'm used to. Seriously, that hollow sound of the snow in that one spot in Tuktoyaktuk will haunt me. It's all a part of me me now. I'm not a different person, but I am a changed person.

It's subtle. I feel a quiet. I look for a quiet. At the same time I find the laughter, even when it doesn't seem to be evident. I seek friendship and the joy of people because they do make life brighter. Oh, and I will never look at a river the same way again. And do you realize just how many shades of white there really are in the world?


This greenhouse allows residents to have a normal growing season for everything from herbs to berries to veggies. It's converted from the old hockey rink. Yarn bombing awesomeness too.


Nothing slows down Inuvik residents. The paddling team at the rec centre, prepping for some summer races and endurance events. (Including my host, Shona.)


So many buildings in Inuvik are painted bright colours. These are known as the Smartie houses. But the day care, the arena, and many other public buildings are in so many colours. In a landscape of white, with few trees, these are a welcome respite for the eyes.


Ice Road Adventures! Seriously, a road plowed on a frozen river. Then, eventually, the frozen ocean. Absolutely wild when you think about it. Then again, it might be better not to think about it. 




Pingos. Hills made of permafrost thrust upwards by underground water. In the winter they looked like random bumps on the otherwise barren landscape.


The end of the Trans Canada Trail. There is a marker at the tip of the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. It is weathered and looks about four times as old as it is. My husband's grandparents once bought sections of the trail for the whole family, so this was rather special to see.


That's me, standing on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. In the past year I've now been to all three coasts of Canada. That kind of blew my mind. And all for quilting too.






One of the more unique experiences I ever had. At the bottom of that hole and frozen ladder is a community freezer. Residents of Tuk dug it out back in the 50s. Before the electric deep freeze this is where the community would keep it's haul of fish, seal, whale, and caribou hunted to keep the families and dogs fed throughout the winter.





Ever seen Ice Road Truckers? This was the only transport truck we saw on our 5 hours on the Ice Road.


Sunset, back below the tree line. Our trip up and down the Ice Road was surely an adventure as the truck nearly lost a wheel to cracks in the road. So being back where the trees were was a relief, for sure. That was a welcome beer that night as we finished watching the sunset.


The northernmost mosque in the world. This makes me love Canada so much.

During the trip I kept thinking about my friends around the world. Those who would have had their breath taken away by the cold. Those who might have been uncomfortable with the amount of fur people wear. Those who would do anything for a trip to this part of the world. I'm sharing these pics with you. I never thought I'd get this far north in my lifetime, so live vicariously through me, if you like. And from this point I will too, in case I never get back there again.


Again, thank-you to the Inuvik Quilt Guild and the NWT Arts Council for this opportunity.

22 comments:

Cynthia F said...

wow what an awesome adventure!!

Betz White said...

Truly amazing! Thanks for sharing.

Charlotte said...

wow - what an amazing place! One thing comes to mind - how long are the days in summer and is Ramadan a complete nightmare?

Leanne said...

Thank you for sharing your adventures. The furtherest north I have been is Dawson City in the summer, which was fantastic too. Everything else aside, it is just so empty and vast in the north, your photos sure capture that.

Mary-Kay Colman said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. I always thought I'd like to visit the far north of Canada but I discovered I don't really like the cold anymore. I used to deliver mail and from that experience, I'd rather stay in when it's cold out. Yup, I'm a big baby and it's not ever that cold here in Windsor ON. Again, thanks for sharing and it looks like you had a great time to boot.

M-R Charbonneau said...

What a joy to see the North through your eyes, Cheryl. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the photos. Tuktoyaktuk has been on my travel bucket list ever since I met a girl from there on a cross country trip.

Lisa J. said...

Thank you so much for this. It took my breath away. I may never get there so its so nice to get there through your pictures.

Janet said...

What a wonderful journey through your pictures! I live in and love the frozen north. Although I am south of these points, where I live is still very special. And as I am currently in Australia, your photos make me long for home.

Bower Bird Patch said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. As an Australian, I can't even imagine being that far north....what a treat! I've enjoyed reading this post very, very, much....cheers!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Cheryl, what a superb trip you had. How wonderful to see the sights thru your eyes. Thank you for the pictures and the narration. I expect not to get that far north ever so your pictures are a big treat.

SeaBreeze Quilts said...

Wow! How amazing to read of your experiences all the way "up there" from my desk all the way "down here" in Australia! Vicarious indeed - and I was absolutely glued to every word! Thanks very much for you excellent writing and pictures.

SeaBreeze Quilts said...

woops! "your" ! (I'm supposed to be doing paperwork!)

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I was fascinated by your photo essay of the far north; down to earth, resourceful, magical, beautiful. I would love to go there (from Calgary) some day. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I lived in one of those "Smartie" houses, but at the time I was there we called them "Little Boxes" after the song. Your post and photos brought back good memories.

JennX said...

Amazing and awesome- thanks for sharing! On my bucket list for sure- I've been all across the southern part of Canada but am ashamed to admit never very far north. Must. Do.

Miggsie said...

Wow, what an adventure! Thanks so much for sharing the photos and stories so that I could learn about a place I'll likely never go but find fascinating.

Nancy said...

Wow! Amazing to think about being that far north. Thanks for sharing your trip. I shiver just thinking about how cold it was.

ann said...

So awesome. Two of my kids have spent extended time in the far north but during summer rather than the winter and they too have been changed by that time. My daughter leaves next month for a 10 week trip so she may see winter up north yet. When the kids were younger we drove to the west coast one summer and the east coast the summer after. We then said you're on your own for the north. Too expensive to take the whole family, surely a place I want to go. So far two our of four have made the trek. Great to see your pictures.

JaneB said...

What an amazing adventure. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Riel Nason said...

All just wonderful. Thanks for posting!

Siobhán said...

WOW!!! Thank you so much for sharing the pictures of your amazing trip. I've only ever been to Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and long to see BC and the north. Some day, please God. I admit the freaked-out-about-bridges part of me wanted to scream a bit when I saw the picture of the ice road--apparently it pertains to being above water at all--but wow. Seriously cool. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Emily Carnes said...

Wow, that is so amazing. Thank you for this wonderful post! i've always dreamed about travelling up north and I certainly got a vicarious thrill by reading about your adventure. So awesome!!

Emily at backtothecraft.blogspot.ca