Return from and to Nunavut


A small part of Cape Dorset (most hidden behind the hill)

I am back. When I disappeared from this blog last fall, I was in the throes of writing an entire manual on how the Government of Nunavut works. That task felt as daunting as the proverbial “selling freezers to Eskimos.” It was an intimidating task that took all my time, energy, and concentration. I lost the thread of this blog.

Dropping the blog as I did was doubly annoying, because early last Fall I had just received two contributions from people I knew in Nunavut, describing what their weather was like. So, now that I feel returned from Nunavut and fully planted in a post income-tax Ottawa spring, it’s appropriate to restart where I left off: a blog entry composed of three snapshots of Canada’s coldest territory.

The first of these entries is from Paul Carolan describing his 2015 summer in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. The second of these is from Stuart Rostant and relates to his struggle in Cambridge Bay, in the far western part of the territory, to build new housing. My thanks and apologies to both of these contributors. Lastly, I describe some of the conditions I encountered this past March in Cape Dorset. Later, In a subsequent post, I will return to Cape Dorset.



From: Paul Carolan                                                                                                                                          Subject: Re: Coming to Iqaluit this Fall.                                                                                                      Date: August 11, 2015 at 21:57:18 EDT                                                                                                          To: Ian Hornby

Greetings Ian, good to hear of your return.

Summer! The attached pic was our view up to last weekend.

The southerly wind brought lots of large ice into the bay and the ships were unable to off load supplies to our barges. Coupled with the restricted runway size because of maintenance, plane sizes were reduced, and this affected supplies as well. Many northerly communities were running on empty shelves !

The wind changed on Friday and the temperatures eventually got into double digits long enough to push out the ice and melt, to allow a channel for the barges to make it to the ships.

Our 3 days of sunshine was our glorious summer !


Sea Ice in Frobisher Bay August 2015



From: Stuart Rostant                                                                                                                                     Subject: A beam’s journey north…                                                                                                                      Date: September 4, 2015 at 00:18:58 EDT                                                                                                                    To: ihornby

The journey north of our 4plex material began as far back as June 2014 with expectations to begin construction with the arrival of the 1st barge out of Hay River at the end of August.

1st and 2nd barge came and went with nothing of ours offloaded. The majority of our material finally arrived on the 3rd barge in late September but our structural floor and roof glulam beams (very important) did not show, along with a 20′ container of finishing material and personal items.

all frozen inExcitement soon turned to panic when the little hope of the 4th barge arriving was dashed in early October. Due to ice conditions the barge was turned back and docked for the winter at the Hope Bay mine about 100km south of Cambridge Bay.

We rang in the New Year looking at all our material frozen in tight on site. The first piece of good news finally arrived in February when we were told that they were planning to construct an ice road from Cambridge Bay to Hope Bay and haul material. This plan did materialize in the end, and in late April, on the last cat train, our remaining piece to the puzzle arrived.

The first week of June we broke ground on construction of the 4plex and 3 months later we are preparing to begin painting the units.

In the end we lost some freezables, lots of additional carrying cost and had to disappoint our clients with a later than expected delivery date. Not to mention the new patch of grey hairs.

beam finally home

The lessons learnt through the whole ordeal are invaluable and we have grown from the experience.

Would not change anything. #staypositive #dontsweatthesmallthings #workhard #dreambig

Stuart and Amanda.


IMG_4107If you cast your attention past the mother in her amauti to the refrigerated shelving below the bike, you will notice the dairy department. It’s hard to tell, though, because there’s really not much milk there. Over the next day, the shelves were stripped bare. Then there was no milk to be had in Cape Dorset (I will not mention that milk is often past the “sell by” date. But I guess I just did tell you).

The most likely reason for this shortage is the following: virtually all food in the eastern part of Nunavut (mainly Baffin Island) is flown from Ottawa to Iqaluit on a Boeing 737 “combi” jet, where the front is for freight, the rear for passengers. It is then transferred to smaller planes and flown to the eight-odd communities around Baffin Island.


Two days before I flew on this daily flight to Iqaluit, the plane had been diverted due to a blizzard in the capital. The plane flew westward towards Rankin Inlet on the western side of Hudson Bay. But apparently, the captive passengers mutinied at the thought that they would be dropped into a community with basically no capacity to handle all the passengers. So, the plane flew on and landed in Yellowknife.


A fairly standard disclaimer for flights in questionable weather

It was a full 48 hours before that plane could fly back and land in Iqaluit. That would have significantly interrupted the supply of foods into the various communities. That’s not abnormal, that’s just what you accept when living in Nunavut.


Preparing for takeoff from Iqaluit on a “good” day

Photo sources: Two photos supplied by Paul Carolan; two from Stuart Rostock; all others by Ian Hornby. All copyright and used with permission.

2 responses to “Return from and to Nunavut

  1. Pingback: Honest Broker’s Quick Guide to Electoral Reform | in the vernacular·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s