Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things That Go Bump In The Night

So I’m heading home from the store about 1:00 a.m. the other morning after yet another of those many days when the freight plane arrived late. About half way to the house I look up and there’s this white shape on the hill behind the house, about 50 feet from my door. Not remembering having seen it there before I immediately thought, “There’s my bear!” Sure enough, it started to move slowly along the hill and I’m wondering if I should continue on to the house or head back to the store to wait it out. While I’m debating this in my mind I heard a car approaching and the funny thing was, the closer the car got the more the shape moved and brightened. It was only the headlights shining in a peculiar way on a rock and a combination of the special angle of the road, the shape of the rock, the rain, my tiredness and imagination was making me see something else.

Laugh if you want, I did, but at this time of the year here a bear can be around at any time of the day or night and boy are they hungry until the ice forms and they can go seal hunting again. I was reminded by someone the other day that the polar bear is mainly a scavenger and not to play dead if you surprise one. Of course you can’t outrun the things either so what the heck are you supposed to do?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What a View!

You may wonder why I've posted a photo of plywood on the blog... Well, there are about 40 crates of building materials destined for the local housing corporation piled in front of and around the side of my house here in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut. This is because we are located right on the beach and the M.V. Anna Desgagnes was in yesterday with sealift for us and the community.So, why a plywood photo? Because that's all I can see out of my living room windows. On top of that the water and sewage trucks can't get to the inlet and outlet. (Everything is trucked both ways in the north because permafrost prohibits underground piping.) Plus.... it's all piled in front of my satelite dish and therefore no world series on TV tonight!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

National Take Back My Time Day?

Well guess what people… I was awakened at 3:15 this morning by the sound of forklifts and trucks outside. Sealift is in. See you later, get the Watkins liniment ready!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Well another twelve days to home. It’s been a long year for some reason and I’m just going through some of the highlights in my mind.

In 2006 I experienced –40 degrees at dawn on the shores of Little Grand Rapids, struggled through 60 mile an hour blizzard winds walking a half mile to the store in Sanikiluaq, watched the caribou migrating through Salluit, fought the black flies of Inukjuak and spent afternoons on bear watch in Chesterfield Inlet. There was also a great double sunset in Thompson, once from the ground followed by the sun rising in the west as the aircraft climbed to its cruising altitude and then setting a second time a few minutes later. A seldom seen experience except for airline pilots.

Somehow though none of the sights and scenes match being on the deck of the house in Wiky, watching the sunrise, listening to the birds coming alive, enjoying the first coffee of the morning and waiting for the rest of the house to surface from their nights dreams.

Wonder what tomorrow will bring…

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Travel 2006

Just thought that maybe someone might be interested in my travels so far this year. It's been a little quieter in 2006 compared to last year. If I stay on schedule it will only be 233 days out compared to 253 in 2005 and 236 in 2004. Work this year was in Little Grand Rapids, Sanikiluaq, Inukjuak, Chesterfield Inlet, two trips to Salluit and several stops at the office in Winnipeg. I enjoy visiting different parts of the country but... what have I missed by not being home? I have to admit that this bothers me and the feeling will probably get worse as the years go by. :0(

Friday, October 13, 2006

"You Can't Take It Personal"

It always amazes me that some people seem to think they can get away with anything forever. Take the ones I had to deal with recently. I’ve got to give them credit, they had to do some serious thinking to figure out what they thought was a foolproof way to supplement their income. What they didn’t know was that there was a series of reports that can be run that would show someone who knew what to look for exactly what was happening. And I knew.

I’ve been with the Hudson’s Bay Company and now The North West Company for over 33 years holding positions from Gas Boy to Office Manager, Store Manager, Field Services Manager, POS Co-ordinator, Auditor, Trainer, Computer Trouble-shooter and a dozen others in between. Right now I call myself a “Pinch Hitter” as whatever needs doing they know they can call me up and I’m on the road the next day to help out wherever I can. What I’m saying is that over the years I’ve seen just about every trick in the book and a few that perhaps a newer person might miss. Heck, I’ve even thought up a few angles myself that we’ve added to the “Watch Out For This” manual.

To make a long story short it took me two days to pinpoint exactly what was being done this time and I spent the next several days building the paperwork and reviewing security tapes. Results… people with a world of potential, limited only by their own choices, now facing possible criminal charges.

Every time this sort of thing happens most people have a tendency to think one thing... “They were stealing from ME!” Well, yes but it probably wouldn’t matter who else was there. If they were going to “borrow” then they would most likely “borrow” from whomever held your position. They have actually only "borrowed" from their own possibilities and future and it’s themselves they have hurt the most. They’ve lost a little bit of their personality, their heart, their image and most of all they’ve added a little bit of blackness to their soul that will forever lessen who they are and could be. It is sad for all of us because maybe we could have done something to help that person before the situation went too far. You do what you can but sometimes there seems to be just too much out there and when it does happen just remember, you can’t take it personal.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


This one was running around by my door at noon today. We've had a pretty good storm blowing for the past 3 or 4 days and he probably got hungry.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spermophilus Parryii

In other words, the vicious arctic ground squirrel. Actually these things are quite tame and show little fear of man. I've seen them sitting on the steps of the store and house as well as trotting across the airport ramp while aircraft were warming up.

It’s basically an arctic version of the prairie dog and lives much the same way, in colonies, eating plants and making more of themselves. It gets the local name “Sik-Sik” from the sound that it makes when it gets nervous.

It's been snowing and blowing for a couple days here now so I expect that we've seen the last of them until spring when their hibernation will be over. You'll find a lot more information on the web site that I stole... oops, borrowed the photo from so please check out the NatureWorks web site and read up more on this arctic dweller.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Polar Bear Watch...

So the guy from the Nunavut Department of the Environment came to see me today. It seems there's been a polar bear around my house and the store at least twice in the last week and he just wanted to leave me his telephone number to call him day or night if I spot it. They want to invite my nocturnal visitor to politely move on “or else.”

We had a freight plane to unload at 11:00 p.m. the other night and I must admit that I was more than a little wary walking home from the store to the house in the dark. It’s not far but with just about zero visibility on a cloudy night you might step on each other before either of you sees the other. Anyway, the word is to always “be aware” of your surroundings, don’t go rushing around buildings and to take the corners wide. We also look out the window before opening the door to go out and yes, there is a rifle standing ready (with the clip out) between the bedroom and the door, just in case.

I haven’t seen the wee beastie yet though and believe it or not in the 33+ years I’ve spent in the north I still haven’t seen a polar bear in the wild. I was kind of disappointed not to spot one while in Churchill for a month last summer so I hope this is my chance. Will keep you posted…

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Propellor Pattern

September 29th and enroute to Chesterfield Inlet on Calm Air Saub 340B aircraft. The propellor pattern that shows up in a digital camera always amazes me. Over the clouds for most of the 7 hour journey from Winnipeg although it was sunny on the ground in Arviat and Whale Cove. I enjoy the cedars and woods surrounding our home on Manitoulin but somehow the flat, barren land of this part of the arctic appeals to me as well. At least when there's not many hills you can see the polar bears coming from at a little way off.

I hope to have more about the bears later but for now, and especially at this time of the year, lets just say you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times and go around buildings slowly, If you run you don't know what you may hit, or have hit you back!