Monday, August 13

Croker Bay
74˚47′ N, 83˚11′ W
3˚C, Overcast/calm wind & sea

croker105:30 wake up call.  We are anchored in Croker Bay on Devon Island’s south shore, a kilometre from the glacier that stretches across the end of the bay. It doesn’t seem so wide, but only because we are far away. It is 4 kms wide and 50 metres high.

We are doing a 06:00 hr cruise along the face of the glacier. Brown bagged breakfasts are waiting for us staff members on a table at the gangway. We take our breakfast bags (English muffins with egg and bacon), and eat in the zodiacs.

m&S croker b.JPG

Martin and Steve (geologist) ready in the zod for passengers

I’m in zodiac #11 with Devon as the driver. Each zodiac has a driver and one staff member. We float around near the ship, waiting our turn as passengers get into each zodiac.  Passengers in the blue, orange and yellow groups are in the first glacier cruise. The white, green and red groups are in the 7:30 cruise.

croker3

The glacier is amazing.  The imposing wall of jagged ice ranges in colour from shades of white to mauve to blue with fissures of dark blue and brown.

croker4The zodiacs keep twice the height away from the ice for safety. One smallish piece splits off  down the bay, and it makes an explosive gunshot sound. It tumbles into the water,then minutes later, waves ripple out towards our  craft, reminding me of being on a lake in a canoe when a big motorboat rips by.  Over the radios, we hear that a mother and two cubs are spotted down the west end of the glacier.  We strain to look for them, but their white heads are difficult to follow, particularly from a distance. We catch glimpses through binoculars of them as they swim along in front of the face of the ice. croker5

Seals heads bob up out of the water all around us. They watch us. I suppose they keep their eyes on the bears too. Between zodiac cruises we are served hot chocolate. What a treat.croker bear

Laura is in the safety zodiac keeping an eye out for hazards — big white furry ones. She spots one up the beach at the end of the glacier. The bear stands watching us from the shore, as if it knows the people in the idling zodiacs are taking its photo.

It’s a chilly morning sitting for 2.5 hours on a rubber raft, and at 8:30 we are back at the gangway, and ready for a hot cup of tea. Soon the ship weighs anchor and heads east along the south coast of Devon Island towards Dundas Harbour — Talluruti. It is one of my favourite historic sites.

dundas3

There are floating bits of ice in Lancaster Sound, clear reminders of why the ship couldn’t get into Resolute Bay farther to the west.

We have a quick lunch at 11:30 and are redressed in warm gear, ready to get in the staff boat by 12:15. There are several hiking options planned for Dundas. There is a Thule site at the end of the peninsula that folks can walk to for a longer leg stretch. I’ll be posted at the abandoned RCMP site. The staff except, photographer Andre, one of the photo journalists, and I, stay in the zodiac, as we’ll get dropped off closer to the post.

There is an enormous beautiful iceberg in the bay and Martin, the  zodiac driver, tours us around it. The camera shutters click like rapid tiny machine gun fire.

I’ve visited the post twice before. Once when there was 2 feet of snow covering everything, and last year when it was dusk. It is beautiful  in daylight with no snow, though lots of ice in the bay. Dundas Harbour operated as an RCMP post from 1924 to 1933. Then from 1934 to 1936 the Hudson Bay took over. In September 1945, the RCMP  reopened the post in order to maintain a patrol presence in the area, but it permanently closed in 1951.

Dundas Hrbr5

The Dundas Harbour post was established by the RCMP as a flag detachment keeping watch over the entrance to Lancaster Sound. The navigational beacon (above), was set up by crew of Labrador in 1954 on its NWP expedition.

 

The location of the post in a valley on a bay is spectacular, but desolate and lonely.

The three room house still has a pot belly stove — made at Findlay Foundry in Carleton Place, where my brother worked 30 years ago.  Two metal bed frames still remain in the single bedroom. The windows are broken and the place is in a state of unfortunate decay. There are a couple of bottles and books left on shelves in the main room, but not even as many books as when I was here a couple of years ago. There is also graffitti on the walls, which is disheartening. I wonder why people feel like they have to leave evidence of having visited a place?  Up behind the post is a white picket fenced-in graveyard of two of the Mounties. One died by his own hand,the other shot himself by accident while walrus hunting.

Jena, one of the culturalists on the ship, told us that her grandmother was born at the post. It was an emotional visit for her. It is a moving place to be and I can understand  how someone can have a strong connection to it.  — An amazing place to visit.

1-dundas hbr1

The location of Dundas Harbour is called Talluruti after the lines down the mountain behind the post that are reminiscent of traditional tattoo lines on a woman’s chin.

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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.
This entry was posted in Adventure Travel, Arctic, Arctic cruise ship, Canadian Arctic, Northwest Passage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Monday, August 13

  1. Marie says:

    I’m really enjoying your posts Season and glad you used the flash to snap a photo of the bedroom 😉

    Like

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