Local faces: Ulukhaktok (Holman), Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #1) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada – in traditional local Inuit costumes

Inuit (local face #1) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada – in traditional local Inuit costumes

 

Our visit to the small Inuvialuit hamlet of Ulukhaktok on Victoria Island in the Canadian High Arctic in the Northwest Territories was our last shore landing in our Northwest Passage expedition.  (From Ulukhaktok we sailed four days to the west through the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea and the Bering Strait into the Pacific Ocean and on to Nome Alaska.)

 

We had such an enjoyable time in Ulukhaktok and with the 30 Inuit drummers and dancers (out of a town population of only 450!) who performed on board our ship just before we sailed out of the bay that we thought we should share some of the great smiles and warm personalities of the Inuit townspeople, hosts and performers.

 

Inuit (local face #2) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #2) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #3) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #3) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #4) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #4 from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #5) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #5) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #6) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #6) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #7) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #7) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #8) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #8) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #9) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

PHOTO OF Inuit (local face #9) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Inuit (local face #10) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Inuit (local face #10) from Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

A beautiful sunset after we sailed out of Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, on the way west to complete the Northwest Passage expedition – our final photograph in our Northwest Expedition blog posts

A beautiful sunset after we sailed out of Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, on the way west to complete the Northwest Passage expedition – our final photograph in our Northwest Expedition blog posts

 

From Ulukhaktok our ship passed through a sometimes narrow band of open water between the coast and the pack ice to the north. Here, the coastline has no offshore islands protecting it from the Arctic elements.  Some years, this area can be ice-free; other years it is choked with pack ice.  These shallow waters off the North Slope have abundant food that attract sea birds and marine mammals.

 

We sailed past Point Barrow, Alaska, the northern-most city (and geographic point) of the United States.  This community is primarily composed of Inupiat Inuit who call this area Ukpeagvik (place where snowy owls are hunted).  Unsheltered and battered by the cold winds and sea ice flowing directly from the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Basin, Barrow is one of the coldest places on earth with over 325 days per year below freezing.  A place of extremes, Barrow is situated in a desert with less than 5 inches / 13 cm of precipitation per year.

 

Our ship then passed through the Bering Strait which separates the mighty continents of North America and Asia.  With Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska to the east and Cape Dezhnev, Siberia (Russia) 51 miles / 82 km away to the west, it marks the geographical end of the Northwest Passage.  Originally above sea level, the strait was once a dry-land bridge connecting the two continental landmasses and allowing prehistoric animals to migrate freely.  The migration of man to North America via this bridge forever changed the landscape of the Americas.  Located in the middle of the Bering Strait, the Diomede Islands fall on either side of the border between Russia and the United States.  Big Diomede Island (Russia) lies just 2.5 miles / 4 km from Little Diomede Island (U.S.).  These islands are often referred to as Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Island because they also fall on either side of the International Date Line, giving them a 20-hour time difference.

 

Our 2019 Northwest Passage Expedition concludes tomorrow at Nome, Alaska.  With the discovery of gold in 1898, this boomtown’s population swelled to nearly 20,000 miners, furiously panning along the beaches that fringe Norton Sound.  Today’s town of under 4,000 offers a peaceful contrast to the lively legacy reflected in the colorful local saloons and museum displays.  Nome hosts the finish of the Iditarod dog sled race each March, and the tundra outside the town provides good opportunities to spot musk ox.  From Nome, our ship will continue to Petropavlovsk, Russia and onward to Japan.

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ulukhaktok (Holman), Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Located on the west side of Victoria Island on the Amundsen Gulf in the Northwest Territories, the small Inuvialuit hamlet of Ulukhaktok (meaning "place where one finds material to make ulus") is named for the ulu knife

Located on the west side of Victoria Island on the Amundsen Gulf in the Northwest Territories, the small Inuvialuit hamlet of Ulukhaktok (meaning “place where one finds material to make ulus”) is named for the ulu knife and has a population around 400 people, Canada

 

The small Inuvialuit hamlet of Ulukhaktok (meaning “place where one finds material to make ulus”) is named for the ulu, a traditional blade used by Inuit people.  Ulukhaktok is located on the west side of Victoria Island on the Amundsen Gulf in the Northwest Territories and is home to fewer than 400 residents. The town, originally named Holman – until 1 April 2006, was founded as a Roman Catholic mission in the 1930s.  The community’s deep understanding of Arctic wildlife is reflected in their creative silkscreen prints and crafts.  Ulukhaktok is known for its fine prints, musk ox wool woven clothing, especially ear muffs, and musk-ox horn carvings.  Ulukhaktok is also famous as the home of the world’s northernmost 9-hole golf course (each summer it hosts the Billy Joss Open Golf Tournament, named after the creator of the golf course, played under the midnight sun).

 

Once ashore (by Zodiacs, for a wet landing) a small group of us had a guided tour of the main section of town with visits to the Art Center (where local crafts and arts were sold) and then the community center where we had the opportunity to taste local foods (Arctic Char stew, Arctic Char crudo and the local fried bread – all of which were delicious).  Also at the community center we saw local artists who had traditional crafts for sale.  We were met by three women elders in the youth community room where we were given lessons on how to sew the local seal mittens, trimmed with rabbit fur.  We each hand-sewed a pair of felt mittens (as seal products cannot be imported into the U.S.A.) with the rabbit fur trim, under the elders’ supervision and with their assistance (see photographs, below).  A very unique souvenir of a wonderful visit to a very friendly local community.  What better way to start to gain an appreciation for their culture than to taste some of their local specialties and sew with the elder women?

 

Our Zodiacs landed on the gravel beach at the edge of town, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Our Zodiacs landed on the gravel beach at the edge of town, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Typical homes in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Typical homes in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

A polar bear skin drying in the front yard of a local hunter and trapper, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

A polar bear skin drying in the front yard of a local hunter and trapper, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

The Ulukhaktok Arts Center, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

The Ulukhaktok Arts Center, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

A local stencil print for sale at the Ulukhaktok Arts Center by local artist Susie Malgokak, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

A local stencil print for sale at the Ulukhaktok Arts Center by local artist Susie Malgokak, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

The art center provided this biography of the artist: “Susie Malgokak was born in Ulukhaktok (formerly Holman), Northwest Territories in 1955.  She studied the shaded stencil printmaking technique and practiced until she had perfected it.  Her attention to detail is visible in the beautiful prints she creates, many of which are inspired by the stories of her father.  Her prints feature scenes from her past and capture the essence of a traditional lifestyle enjoyed by the Inuit.  Susie’s husband Peter Malgokak, her brother Peter Palvik, and her sister Mabel Nigiyok, are all involved in printmaking in Ulukhaktok.”

 

A second local stencil print for sale at the Ulukhaktok Arts Center by local artist Susie Malgokak, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

A second local stencil print for sale at the Ulukhaktok Arts Center by local artist Susie Malgokak, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Another typical home in Ulukhaktok; note the two critical vehicles in the front yard – a quad bike for the summer and a skidoo for the winter; Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Another typical home in Ulukhaktok; note the two critical vehicles in the front yard – a quad bike for the summer and a Ski-Doo for the winter; Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

Sitting in the front yard of the home, above, was the great aunt of our guide, the leading ulu knife maker in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Sitting in the front yard of the home, above, was the great aunt of our guide, the leading ulu knife maker in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

A church in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

A church in Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

The Ulukhaktok Community Hall – note that the sign is an enlarged ulu; Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

The Ulukhaktok Community Hall – note that the sign is an enlarged ulu; Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

One of three elder Inuit women who graciously conducted a sewing demonstration and class for a small group of us in sewing the local winter mittens with rabbit fur trim at the Ulukhaktok Community Hall, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island

One of three elder Inuit women who graciously conducted a sewing demonstration and class for a small group of us in sewing the local winter mittens with rabbit fur trim at the Ulukhaktok Community Hall, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island

 

Using an ulu knife for cutting the rabbit fur trim for out mittens at the Ulukhaktok Community Hall, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

Using an ulu knife for cutting the rabbit fur trim for out mittens at the Ulukhaktok Community Hall, Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

 

All-purpose ulu knives have a unique design which increases dexterity and leverage, making fine cuts simple and chopping easier.  The blade is made of stainless steel (originally slate) and has a large, easy to grip wooden handle (originally made of caribou antler or muskox horn).  The Ulu knife (pronounced oo-loo) comes from Alaska, and has been used by Native people of the Arctic for centuries.  Ulu knives are utilized in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child’s hair, cutting food, as a weapon and, if necessary, trimming blocks of snow and ice used to build an Igloo.  They are prized possessions in the Arctic communities and are passed down from generation to generation. Ulu knives have been found dating back as early as 2,500 B.C.

 

A farewell photograph of the point of Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, as we sailed into the Amundsen Gulf, heading west for our final four days of sailing to complete the NW Passage

A farewell photograph of the point of Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, as we sailed into the Amundsen Gulf, heading west for our final four days of sailing to complete our unassisted (i.e., no icebreaker support) transit through Northwest Passage on to the Beaufort Sea and the Bering Strait — a strait of the Pacific, which separates Russia and Alaska slightly south of the Arctic Circle at about 65° 40′ N latitude — to reach Nome, Alaska, in 24 days after our expedition began in Nuuk, Greenland

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Aurora Borealis in the Canadian High Arctic

Aurora Borealis #1, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut (in the Northwest Passage), approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada

Aurora Borealis #1, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut (in the Northwest Passage), approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada – our first sighting of the northern lights was after sunset with the horizon still full of the post-sunset glow; really exciting!

 

In the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere and the southern latitudes in the southern hemisphere the polar lights are known respectively as the aurora borealis and aurora australis.  Just before Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada, and for several nights thereafter, we were surprised to be treated to some magnificent displays of the northern lights (aurora borealis).

 

Aurora Borealis #2, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #2, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

“An aurora, sometimes referred to as polar lights, northern lights, southern lights, is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in the high-latitude regions.  Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind.” — Wikipedia

 

Aurora Borealis #3, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #3, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Aurora Borealis #4, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #4, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Aurora Borealis #5, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #5, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

“What causes aurora borealis?  Bottom line: When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light. This process creates the beautiful aurora, or northern lights.” – http://www.earthsky.org

 

Aurora Borealis #6, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #6, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in Nunavut, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Aurora Borealis #7, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #7, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

“Why is Aurora Borealis Green?  The “northern lights” are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. … Oxygen emits either a greenish-yellow light (the most familiar color of the aurora) or a red light; nitrogen generally gives off a blue light.“ – http://www.pwg.gsfc.nasa.gov

 

Aurora Borealis #8, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #8, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Aurora Borealis #9, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #9, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Aurora Borealis #10, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

Aurora Borealis #10, photographed from the deck of our ship after sunset in the Northwest Territories, approximately 70 degrees North Latitude, Canada (in the Northwest Passage)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Port Epworth (the Tree River area on the mainland), Nunavut, Canada

Stepping ashore at Port Epworth, southwest of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the Canadian High Arctic region of Nunavut, was our first outing on the “mainland” – the terrain near the strait was tundra littered with erratic boulders

Stepping ashore at Port Epworth, southwest of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the Canadian High Arctic region of Nunavut, was our first outing on the “mainland” – the terrain near the strait was tundra littered with erratic boulders, and, further inland, sedimentary rocks and outcroppings with lakes and rivers dotting the area teeming with ground plants (the tallest willow tree we came across was about 18 inches / 0.5 meters) tall – a giant compared to the ground cover willows on Baffin Island three weeks ago)

 

From Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island we sailed west and entered Coronation Gulf, leading into Dolphin and Union Strait.  Another narrow section of the Northwest Passage between Victoria Island and mainland Nunavut in Canada, the strait is named for the Dolphin and the Union, two boats from the second Franklin land expedition.  Overnight we passed the infamous Franklin Cape and “Point Turnagain,” where the Franklin party was forced to literally turn back twice after two failed attempts through to the westernmost portion of the Northwest Passage.  Several rivers flow into the gulf.  Together with being a place of great natural beauty, the Tree River area on the mainland – across from Victoria Island — also known as Port Epworth, is rich in Inuit history.  Port Epworth is part of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement – Kugluktuk Inuit-owned land in Nunavut (on the mainland).

 

We once again saw evidence that it was “fall” in the High Arctic, as signaled by the bright red color of the bear berry plants all across the tundra, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

We once again saw evidence that it was “fall” in the High Arctic, as signaled by the bright red color of the bear berry plants all across the tundra, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

Further evidence of fall what appears to be snow in the distance, but were already frozen shallow lakes, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

Further evidence of fall what appears to be snow in the distance, but were already frozen shallow lakes, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

A panorama of a portion of the slowly eroding sedimentary rock outcropping, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

A panorama of a portion of the slowly eroding sedimentary rock outcropping, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

Fall colors in the tundra under the sedimentary rock outcroppings, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

Fall colors in the tundra under the sedimentary rock outcroppings, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

Our guest geologist pointed out the layers of these sedimentary rocks (a beautiful abstract “painting” on their own) indicated the layers of sediment that were deposited on the ocean floor with algae trapped in successive layers_

Our guest expedition geologist pointed out the layers of these sedimentary rocks (a beautiful abstract “painting” on their own) indicated the layers of sediment that were deposited on the ocean floor with algae trapped in successive layers millions of years ago, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

“Port Epworth is a place where visitors can see and touch the petrified remains of primordial mounds of algae, formed during the dawning days of life some two billion years ago by the very organisms responsible for producing the oxygen we breathe today.  These are stromatolites – a word constructed from the Latin roots for “mattress” and “stone”…” – “Cruise geologist inspires Atwood’s latest work”, Randy Boswell, Vancouver Sun, 17 Dec 2011

 

To read Margaret Atwood’s short story, “Stone Mattress”, in The New Yorker on December 11, 2011 – inspired by her cruise to the Canadian Arctic and Port Epworth — see:  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/12/19/stone-mattress

 

Some of the basalt (slate) rocks that are now slivers pointing upwards were originally horizontal layers, moved upright by years of cryogenic forces (the freezing and unfreezing of water in the cracks of the rock layers), Port Epworth

Some of the basalt (slate) rocks that are now slivers pointing upwards were originally horizontal layers, moved upright by years of cryogenic forces (the freezing and unfreezing of water in the cracks of the rock layers), Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

It was very late in the summer season to find these yellow flowers in the tundra, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

It was very late in the summer season to find these yellow flowers in the tundra, Port Epworth, mainland, Nunavut, Canada

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Before going into the town of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the central high Arctic region of Canada, we took a long hike along the stone beach waterfront with an Inuit expedition guide from Pond Inlet, Baffin Island

Before going into the town of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the central high Arctic region of Canada, we took a long hike along the stone beach waterfront with an Inuit expedition guide from Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, who gave us excellent insights into the Inuit hunting and fishing traditions

 

Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada.  The traditional name for the community is Iqaluktuuttiaq, which means “a good place with lots of fish.”  Archaeological sites in and close to the community show that people have lived in this area for at least 4,000 years.  In the 1920s the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police established posts at Cambridge Bay, attracting local Inuit who settled nearby.  The construction of a Distant Early Warning Site in Cambridge Bay in 1955 attracted more people to the area, and it has since grown in size.  Cambridge Bay is currently the administrative center for the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut.  The May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre and the Arctic Coast Visitors Centre feature displays on the local culture and history.=

This protected harbor on the south coast of Victoria Island was historically a convenient meeting place before crossing the Dease Strait.  Now the largest community in the region, it is home to about 1,766 residents and is the logistical hub for the central Arctic.

Cambridge Bay is also home to the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), illustrating how traditional Inuit life and the modern scientific age meet in this bustling Arctic community.

 

Vacation fishing shacks on the beach at Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada, built from plywood shipped in from southern Canada, as there are no trees in the tundra regions of the northern central Arctic region of Canada

Vacation fishing shacks on the beach at Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada, built from plywood shipped in from southern Canada, as there are no trees in the tundra regions of the northern central Arctic region of Canada

 

A traditional Inuit fish drying rack on the beach – here the Arctic Char is being air dried (a local delicacy) in the wind with temperatures around freezing as we walked by, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

A traditional Inuit fish drying rack on the beach – here the Arctic Char is being air dried (a local delicacy) in the wind with temperatures around freezing as we walked by, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

Also on the drying racks were caribou meat on ribs and other bones that is eaten like American beef jerky and fish on the lower racks; Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada – all traditional Inuit techniques

Also on the drying racks were caribou meat on ribs and other bones that is eaten like American beef jerky and fish on the lower racks; Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada – all traditional Inuit techniques

 

The signage is universal – a beach outhouse shack, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

The signage is universal – a beach outhouse shack, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

This is a special Inuit food – air dried reindeer hoofs (a tradition in our guide’s family, although she had not personally eaten it), Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

This is a special Inuit food – air dried reindeer hoofs (a tradition in our guide’s family, although she had not personally eaten it), Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

One-half of a caribou antler in the front yard of one of the beach fishing shacks, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

One-half of a caribou antler in the front yard of one of the beach fishing shacks, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

“Downtown” Cambridge Bay has many large public facilities on the main street such as the arena and curling rink pictured here, along with the public health center, one of the two town grocery stores, and the town government offices

“Downtown” Cambridge Bay has many large public facilities on the main street such as the arena and curling rink pictured here, along with the public health center, one of the two town grocery stores, and the town government offices, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

The Canadian communications company’s office in town has quite a bit of modern equipment and antennae on the property, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

The Canadian communications company’s office in town has quite a bit of modern equipment and antennae on the property, Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

The copper clad exterior of the main research facility of CHARS, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, that opened in late 2017 after very ecologically-minded construction for the whole complex that cost about $250 million Canadian

The copper clad exterior of the main research facility of CHARS, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, that opened in late 2017 after very ecologically-minded construction for the whole complex that cost about $250 million Canadian ($188 million US), Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

The state-of-the-art research facility at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) is designed to optimize innovation in the field of Arctic science and technology from ecosystem monitoring to DNA analysis with, at its core, a focus on Indigenous knowledge.  We had an opportunity to visit the knowledge sharing center modeled after a traditional tupiq (Inuit sealskin tent) ringed by glulam columns and the large-scale floor art by Inuit artists.  We met with one of the lab managers to learn about the genesis of CHARS and insights into the research projects underway in its first years (the center opened in late 2017).

 

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) main research facility has an excellent collection of local Inuit art; pictured here is a duffel and felt quilt by local artist Mabel Pongok ETEGIK (born 1943) titled “Present Day Cambridge Bay”

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) main research facility has an excellent collection of local Inuit art; pictured here is a duffel and felt quilt by local artist Mabel Pongok ETEGIK (born 1943) titled “Present Day Cambridge Bay”; Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

The CHARS main research facility is open to the public with an excellent art collection, focused on local Inuit artists, and quite a bit of information about the environmentally-friendly and conservation-minded construction of the center in a sensitive tundra region.  One of the placards was educational for both children and adults:

DID YOU KNOW?  Daylight is precious in the High Arctic.  Depending on the season, there can be 0 to 24 hours of sunlight in a day.  The total yearly daylight time in the High Arctic is approximately 1,730 hours/year, compared to Ottowa, Canada at 2,084 hours/year.  In Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), the sun stays below the horizon for 40 continuous days during the winter months.  During the summer months, the sun does not set for approximately 62 days.

 

Instead of a selfie with the polar bear, your blogger figured you’d just rather see this fine local resident of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Instead of a selfie with the polar bear, your blogger figured you’d just rather see this fine local resident of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Aerial view of the Nakyoktok River that flows into Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Aerial view of the Nakyoktok River that flows into Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

From Peel Sound [see our previous blog post “Peel Sound (pack ice and polar bear), Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada”] we sailed south through Franklin Strait and then Victoria Strait and passed between King William Island on the east and the eastern side of Victoria Island, then through the Dease Strait to Coronation Gulf and Johansen Bay on Victoria Island where we anchored for hiking and helicopter flights over the tundra.

 

Aerial photo, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada, #2; note how flat the overall terrain (tundra) is beyond the small mounds along the river bank

Aerial photo, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada, #2; note how flat the overall terrain (tundra) is beyond the small mounds along the river bank

 

Johansen Bay is on the southern coast of Victoria Island, west of the main town of Cambridge Bay [see our upcoming blog post].  The Nakyoktok River waterway is important for both wildlife and the Kitlinermiut (Copper Inuit) people who have lived in the region for centuries, using copper gathered from the Coppermine River and Coronation Gulf.  We explored the Nakyoktok River by Zodiac  and, upriver, made a wet shore landing and went for a hike ashore.  We were very fortunate to see two white Arctic foxes on the hills nearby, along with numerous birds – the area is a prime habitat for loons, willow grouse and other birds of the high Arctic.  While not seeing any of the local musk ox, we did see their dried up excrement (feces).

 

While Johansen Bay is presently uninhabited, there are remains of old hunting sheds and a former farm along the Nakyoktok River waterway, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

While Johansen Bay is presently uninhabited, there are remains of old hunting sheds and a former farm along the Nakyoktok River waterway, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

The terrain around the Nakyoktok River is all flat tundra except for the low rise rock piles pictured here, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

The terrain around the Nakyoktok River is all flat tundra except for the low rise rock piles pictured here, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

Beautiful orange lichen on an “erratic” boulder (left by a glacier eons ago), Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Beautiful orange lichen on an “erratic” boulder (left by a glacier eons ago), Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

We hiked to the lakes pictured, crossing flat tundra littered with erratic boulders, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

We hiked to the lake pictured, crossing flat tundra littered with erratic boulders, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

On the first of September it was already fall here, as seen in the red color of the bear berry plants on the tundra, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

On the first of September it was already fall here, as seen in the red color of the bear berry plants on the tundra, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

On a very cold, windy day, we were very happy to have the sun peek out once in a while, offering a little bit of warmth for a short spell, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

On a very cold, windy day, we were very happy to have the sun peek out once in a while, offering a little bit of warmth for a short spell, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

Lichens are the oldest life forms on the tundra, pictured here on an erratic boulder, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Lichens are the oldest life forms on the tundra, pictured here on an erratic boulder, Nakyoktok River waterway, Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

It was very cool to be flying in the helicopter after our ship had left anchor and was sailing eastward to Cambridge Bay – even cooler to land on a moving helicopter pad on the forward deck!; Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

It was very cool to be flying in the helicopter after our ship had left anchor and was sailing eastward to Cambridge Bay – even cooler to land on a moving helicopter pad on the forward deck!; Johansen Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Peel Sound (pack ice and polar bear), Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Our first encounter with pack ice was in Peel Sound on our Northwest Passage journey through Nunavut Territory, Canada

Our first encounter with pack ice was in Peel Sound on our Northwest Passage journey through Nunavut Territory, Canada

 

Sailing south from Beechey Island (and Devon Island) we entered Peel Sound, the waterway between Prince of Wales Island to the west and Somerset Island to the east.  Here we encountered the first pack ice, a great spot to hunt for polar bears living on the ice (eating seals for their sustenance).  We were fortunate and did spot a polar bear, just after it had caught and killed a seal (the half-eaten, bloody carcass was on the ice a short distance from the bear who had blood on its front right leg and its face).  In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to sail through the pack ice in Zodiacs, looking for polar bears (unsuccessfully) and enjoying the innumerable ice forms.

 

We came across this polar bear on the pack ice just after it had caught and killed a seal and eaten quite a bit – notice the blood on its front right leg and its right cheek, Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

We came across this polar bear on the pack ice just after it had caught and killed a seal and eaten quite a bit – notice the blood on its front right leg and its right cheek, Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Polar bear # 2, Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Polar bear # 2, Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #1 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #1 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #2 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #2 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #3 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #3 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #4 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #4 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #5 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #5 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #6 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #6 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #7 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #7 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Pack ice #8 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

Pack ice #8 in Peel Sound, Northwest Passage, Nunavut, Canada

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.