Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Big, I don't mean Hawaii

Before coming to Arctic Bay I spent a couple of years in Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island) which is located along the south east coast of Baffin Island, roughly 100km north of the Arctic Circle. Qikiqtarjuaq means "big island" in Inuktitut. Actually I found it wasn't that can boat around it in a couple hours.

The first photo shows the hamlet office the day after a March blizzard. The month definitely went out like a lion and closed the school and the entire community down for the day. Walking from my house to the school took a good 10 minutes rather than the typical 3-4 minute stroll. I know this because I foolishly tried it.....just to say I once walked in a full-blown blizzard. Being 2 years older and (hopefully) a little wiser, it is not something I would repeat.

The next shot shows a typical sight around Broughton. Many large icebergs travel the ocean currents slowly down the coast. Sometimes they get stuck in the sea ice once freeze-up occurs. My second year there, several large 'bergs were visible from town out on the ice. Qikiqtarjuaq has been referred to as the "Iceberg Capital" of Canada and it is not hard to understand why.

Sunsets are always spectacular....especially here in Nunavut. So I have included one of many. I'm sure I could fill several photo albums just with sunsets.

The strange contraption in the next picture is part of the Distant Early Warning Radar Site(DEW Line). This complex was part of a line of radar sites built back in the 1950's during the Cold War. These sites were made obsolete when the Russians developed ICBMs and the sites were slowly decommissioned through the 1980's. The few remaining ones are now automated. At any rate, they make for some interesting site seeing and provide a "living museum" of the past. Poking around I discovered a number of old coins from the 1920s, '30s and '40s to add to my collection.

The last picture is the March blizzard in progress that I mentioned above. Not only was visibility abyssmal, the 100+ mile per hour winds actually broke the wind gauge at the airport and blew the satellite dish off my neighbour's roof. The dish ended up next to their front porch and was crunched up like a taco shell. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Anyhow, Broughton Island certainly was an interesting place. This is where I got my start teaching in Nunavut. While I found working there a great challenge, I am left with many memories.