Nowhere Land

Sunday, August 28, 2016 Road Junkies 0 Comments


Seeking True North, Day 13:  Iqaluit, NU.
When we drove past the town breakwater this morning, the famous Iqaluit tide was out, way out.  So we had to stop and take a photo to compare with another taken from the same place at high tide later.  Quite a difference!
What a difference four and a half hours makes!
Then we drove to Apex, about 3 miles from Iqaluit.  Apex got its start as an Inuit community near the Frobisher Bay U.S. Air Force base established at the current site of Iqaluit in the 1940s.  Then in 1949, the Hudson's Bay Company decided to move its operations to the sandy beach at Apex to take advantage of commercial opportunities brought in by the base.  With construction materials so difficult to obtain in the Arctic, the buildings were disassembled, transported 30 miles from Ward Inlet, and rebuilt in Apex.
The old Hudson's Bay buildings repurposed
The map in the Iqaluit visitor guide suggests the Gallery by the Big Red Boat is in one of these buildings, but apparently it is no longer there.  However the boat is still hanging on and has become the namesake for a property management company whose office is located in the former gallery.
Brought to you by the red boat
Along the beach were a few baby icebergs that had been grounded in the low tide.  As we were photographing these miniature reminders of winter, we noticed that litter has made its way to the Apex beach also.  Even worse, at the other end of town is a makeshift dump where all manner of trash has been deposited on the beach.  A rejected sofa sits on the hill overlooking Tarr Inlet.
Room with a view
After reading in the visitor guide about the famous Road to Nowhere ("While not an official tourist destination..."), we were compelled to take the drive.  Winding its way through the tundra past a few small lakes and Rotary Park, the road ends a few miles outside the city at a firing range.  Much like Ragged Ass Road in Yellowknife, the road's street sign disappears on a regular basis.  And as with Ragged Ass, a replica for the Road to Nowhere street sign is available in local gift shops.
Truth in advertising:  the road went nowhere.
Having completed our excursion to nowhere, we visited the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum.  Housed in a former Hudson Bay Company Building next door to the Iqaluit TI, the museum exhibits traditional Inuit clothing and tools as well as modern works of art.  Works by contemporary Nunavut jewelry makers and artists are showcased and sold there.
Main exhibit room at the museum
As we left the museum, three little ones (aged about 3, 4 and 5) were playing nearby and we heard one yell to another, "Nan nan boo boo!"  We had to laugh until one started playing "chicken" with traffic.  When he saw a vehicle coming down the street, he would run out in front of it.  Fortunately, the locals drive slowly, perhaps because they anticipate such antics.  Sadly this has been a common sight while we've been in Iqaluit—very young Inuit children playing near and even in the streets with no apparent supervision.
Be careful, little ones!
Lake Geraldine had been on our radar for a couple of days.  Even Josh, our first encounter at the TI, had said it was worth visiting, but alas when we tried today, we found the gate locked.  Later when we asked a local about the lake, he replied that it was just a reservoir and we hadn't really missed anything.
Trucks connect to pipes on this duplex for water and sewer services.
Not every home in the area has water piped in from the reservoir.  Some houses have trucked water and sewer services.  A red light on the outside of the house turns off when the water tank is near empty, signaling the water truck to stop and refill the tank.  There's a separate sewer truck that makes rounds and pumps out...well, you can imagine.  We heard a story about a local city councilman whose home was the victim of a valve reversal mistake by the sewer truck driver last year.  When he was supposed to be pumping waste out, he accidentally pumped more in.  A lot more.  Yuck!
A warm and cozy position for little ones up to age two
Around Iqaluit, we have seen quite a few Inuit women and even one transient carrying their babies in a traditional amauti (eh-maud'-ee) style of parka.  Favored by eastern Canadian indigenous women, the amauti nestles the child against the mother's back in a special pouch just below the hood, a nice spot for a cold day.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Iqaluit.  We hope to take a tour of the Ledge and plant some letterboxes—the first ones in Nunavut.

SUNDAY, 28 AUGUST 2016

Iqaluit Stats:
•  200 miles from the Arctic Circle
•  0 trees
•  0 traffic lights
•  $2,456 average cost for a 2-bedroom apartment (double Vancouver and Toronto rents)
•  7,177 population
•  40 to 50% non-Inuit population 

More Photos from Today
Beached baby berg in on beach in Apex
The new Iqaluit cemetery in Apex features rib bones from a bow whale.  
Nice summer foliage along the Road to Nowhere 
Iqaluit's colorful buildings 
A walk on the Apex beach
The distinctive middle school