Follow the Yellow (make that ochre) Dirt Roads
I visited the Canadian Arctic for the first time in May, 2014. After a day in Iqaluit (Nunavut's capital) I flew to Cape Dorset (pop. approx 1300) at the southern tip of Baffin Island. Visit Brush with Beauty: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 for more posts & photos.
Although the landscape surrounding Cape Dorset is stunning, it was the ochre ribbon-like roads looping through the hamlet, and the constant activity on them, that intrigued me most. Most people walk or drive ATVs (skidoos in winter) to socialize, shop and work. There are few larger vehicles, but the school bus seems always on the go, as are the trucks that deliver fresh water and empty the septic tanks. Thus my first steps out on the town (well, hamlet) were a delightful contrast to my city experience, where the roads are hectic and the sidewalks empty.
Next to my hotel (Dorset Suites), and across from Tellik Inlet, is the world-renowned Kinngait Arts Studio, the oldest printing studio in Canada (more on this historic studio in a further post). The studios are the distinctive red-roofed, green and yellow buildings below, and have been around since 1957. To see larger images please click on the photos below.
Below: Tellik Inlet by Kinngait Arts. Turn right to go to the two grocery and supply stores, and the RCMP station. Turn left to find the Wildlife Office, the municipal pier, and the gazebo on the hill.
The gazebo, seen from most vantage points of the hamlet, is an unusual landmark for such a northern community, but, hey, I loved it. A sheltered bit of architecture, where I could start each day and take in the glorious landscape. In the picture below, you can spot the gazebo above the Wildlife Office (the building on the left ). Click on the picture below to see a larger image
The polar bear hide seen above was huge. I mean hair-raising, goose bump inspiring big. I wish I had thought to put my hand or iPhone by a paw for reference.
Meanwhile, on the same day I happily arrived in Cape Dorset, a polar bear attacked two Arctic Bay hunters as they slept in their tent. They survived, but only after a fight for their lives. For a dramatic account of the attack, and some equally dramatic polar bear facts, read http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_polar_bear_attack_survivors_thankful_to_be_alive/
I love polar bears, and my polar bear paintings are portraiture tributes to these great mammals whose future is of concern. But up north? One can never forget these beautiful, intelligent, powerful kings of the arctic are dangerous.
Big Bear Passing (48" by 36" polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague )
So, up the hill to the gazebo.
Below. Snowmobilers travel on frozen Tellik Inlet to get to open water beyond.
I was forewarned to expect roads thick with mud, but they were dry and solid. Later in summer, when the roads become too dry, passing ATVs and the odd car send up clouds of pervasive dust. But for now, as it was the first week of sunny, cheery weather, children, especially boys, were out on their bikes, pedalling uphill with admirable ease.
To be continued...
Note: I use a Sony A7r with 35mm Zeiss lens. iPhone 5s was my back up.