Nunavut Communities MapBeth and I went on a cruise in the High Arctic at the end of August this year and it was an awesome experience.  Cruise is a stretch, as the vessel was a converted Russian research vessel.  The ship’s crew, cabin and wait staff were all Russian; the speakers, tour staff (blue shirts) who operated the zodiacs, served wine and tended bar, helped everywhere and were extremely knowledgeable about the Arctic, the animals and to a lesser degree the birds, and the cooks were a mixture of Canadians, Aussies, Brits and one American.  There were 150 persons on board of which 84 were tourists.  All of our journey was within the Canadian Territory of Nunavut, a jurisdiction just over three times the size of Texas and with a population of less than 50,000. The “ice-free” season is very short in the High Arctic, even with global warming.  Ice went out of the bay, where we embarked, on July 29 and on September 2 we saw the large oil supply tanker part way through its last run to the scattered communities before freeze-up. 

We started with a group dinner and introduction then spent night in the remodeled, but oldest, hotel in Edmonton, Alberta.  The morning of August 23, we were up at 5:00 AM, picked up sack breakfasts (who has ever eaten a bagged breakfast) and were on our way to the charter terminal at Edmonton International.  We flew a Canadian North 737 north to Resolute with a refueling stop at Yellowknife.  The refueling stop not absolutely necessary as the flight was only 4 ½ hours long, counting the refueling, but alternate airports are few and far between in the north of Canada so a full tank was a requirement.

Group arriving a Resolute Airport. Photo: Ann FrederkingBeth behind air terminalWe lost an hour going from MDT to CDT so we arrived at Resolute shortly after 1:00 PM.  The place should have been called Desolute.  It is one of three settlements in the north established by the Canadian government to show “sovereignty.”  Basically, Inuits in remote areas of Northern Quebec were lied to by Canadian government authorities and moved to the even more remote locations on a trial basis.  They were then ignored and while given supplies periodically, were not allowed to leave.  They could leave now but it has become “home” so most stay.  Population is about 200, more in summer.  Although we did not get into town, we were told it has a school, a store, post office and modern, though small, hotel as well as porta-camps for summer work staff.  The airstrip is gravel but well maintained and the terminal is new and modern.

View of the ship from shoreBoarding the Akademik Sergei Vavilov.After about an hour of waiting, we were bussed to the shore, fitted into life vests and loaded onto zodiacs for a one mile trip to the Akademik Sergei Vavilov, our home for the next thirteen days.  Luggage preceded us aboard.

Once aboard we found our cabins, unpacked our luggage, underwent the usual lifeboat drill and headed to the bar for our free welcome drink(s).  Life is good.


Photo captions and credits:

Nunavut Community map

Group arriving at Resolute Airport.  Photo by Ann Frederking

Beth behind the Resolute air teminal

Our ship viewed from the dock

The Akademik Sergei Vavilov