Sunday, September 18, 2016

Admiralty Inlet
73°47’N   84°32’W
-3°C /26°F
Overcast, Winds – 30 Knots South

Another bear was spotted before breakfast – this one on an ice floe en route to Arctic Bay. The bear stretched and rolled around on the jumbled chunks of ice, offering us all another fabulous photo opp.Sept.18_4.jpg

It looks like ice will prevent us from venturing north to Grise Fiord and Smith Sound. As we missed out on a visit to Gjoa Haven, Jason decided  we should stop at Arctic Bay so we can experience a Canadian Arctic community. So we headed down Admiralty Inlet during the night. It turned out that the Inlet was choked with ice that had not been visible on the ice charts because the fog prevented the satellites from identifying the ice, mistaking it as open water.

The ship moved slowly and had to skirt around a large pan of ice, which delayed our arrival in Arctic Bay.

Edna discussed her experiences at a Residential School in the Nautilus Lounge after breakfast. Then we had a great Sunday morning Gospel Bluegrass Concert in the Nautilus Lounge with Barney Bentall and David Newland.

When we arrived after lunch a group of 13 community members came aboard to meet the guests, and we had an Arctic Bay Welcome Ceremony in the Nautilus Lounge.


Staff waiting at the gangway to go ashore in zodiac  Johannes, Michael, Lois, Latonia, Edna, Lynn, Scott, Milbry, Carolyn

When our zodiac reached the beach, we were greeted by a gaggle of curious happy children. A snowball fight ensued and those of us not participating tried to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

The sky was granite grey in the distance, giving an ominous backdrop to the stunning rounded reddish mountains at the mouth of the bay. Arctic Bay is a community of 830 people.sept-18_7 The town is built on the raised banks of the horseshoe shaped bay with all houses on stilts because of the permafrost. We all enjoyed the chance to wander about town. Being Sunday, most places were closed, but the Heritage Centre had opened for our visit and folks purchased crafts and carvings.

Most of us started our walk about town at the Northern Store, just up from the beach. It was a chance to pick up snacks, which were about five times more expensive than they are down south. A bag of Robinhood flour was $45, and a box of light bulbs was $26. The cost to ship all these items to the northern communities like Arctic Bay gets transferred to the purchaser. Many purchased stamps to mail postcards at this last Canadian community we’ll stop at.

sept-18_9Word got out that the lady who lived near where we landed on the beach made Pangnirtung-style hats, the crocheted woollen hats with a tassel on top. Her prices were cheaper than a bag of flour at the Northern Store: 30 dollars a hat. It looked like we bought her entire stock of hats that had ‘Arctic Bay’ crocheted around the crown.

Adventure Canada offered a novel way to visit the communities: by bicycle. Eleven blue mountain bikes had been brought ashore in a zodiac and the more adventurous passengers headed out to bike the hilly snow covered dirt road out to the old Nanisivik mine’s airport.

sept-18_12It started snowing gently as we wandered around town. The snow picked up on our zodiac ride back to the ship and accompanied us through the night.

The ship sailed after supper and headed out of the bay into Admiralty, north bound for Dundas Harbour on Devon Island. 1-sept-18_9a

Edna’s Inuktun word of the day was Tunumuyugut = we are going northward.



About Season Osborne

I am a writer with a love of Arctic history. After finding a photo of Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who claimed the Arctic for Canada in 1909, I was inspired to write my master’s thesis on Bernier’s contribution to Arctic sovereignty. This ultimately led to extensive research into Canadian and ‘foreign’ expeditions to the North, which morphed into my recent book, In the Shadow of the Pole: An Early History of Arctic Expeditions, 1871-1912.
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