Thayer's Gull Dundas Harbour We ferried ashore to Dundas Harbor on Devon Island in the zodiacs and landed in shallow water on a sloping gravelly beach.  A Thayer Gull stood stoically on a nearby rocky section of shoreline probably quietly laughing at us slopping ashore. In spite of the all clear report by the scout team, at least six of the blue shirts carried bear blasters, large barrel weapons which shoot a non-life threatening explosive and two carried real rifles.  We were in big bear country. (A former Mountie on the staff team, with a lot of time in the Arctic, recounted asking an Inuit about hunting Polar Bear.  The native replied, “Don’t hunt Polar Bear, Polar Bear hunt me!”)

Stone fox trapWe shed our life vests and headed inland to an old Thule camp, which because of remoteness and funding requirements, has never been systematically investigated.  The Thule were nomadic but they are believed to have spent several winters at this site, probably because of its sheltered  Remains of Thule stone house. Photo by Justin Peterposition.  There were remnants of several tent rings, rocks roughly in a circle which would have been used to anchor the bottoms of their animal skin tents; collapsed remains of a stone house, which appeared to have been shaped like our idea of a snow igloo; a stone fox trap, as the very small arctic fox would not have been worth eating but would have been a camp pest; and at least three graves, indicated by piles of stone. Permafrost would have made graves impractical.

We divided into three groups: a high energy group which climbed the nearby peak, then returned via an abandoned RCMP post across the peninsula; a more moderate energy group who took a lowland route to the RCMP post; and a wimp group, which Beth and I joined.

landscapeArctic Poppy, Resolute airport - Justin Peter We investigated the vegetation and a nearby pond with the guidance of an extremely knowledgeable environmentalist who pointed out many plants and interesting lichen which we would have overlooked left to our own devices.  A couple of plants may have been a few inches tall but most were near ground level due to the short growing season and the near continuous wind. 

We were also thrilled by a loud overflight by a pair of Red-necked Least Willow, Qikitarjuaq - Justin PeterlichenLoon that apparently had chicks in the pond and several Long-tailed Ducks along the seashore.

The abandoned RCMP post has a story of its own.  In the 1920s the Canadian government became concerned about sovereignty over the northern islands and waterways and the unregulated hunting and whaling that was occurring there.  The post here was opened in August, 1924 and three officers were stationed in it for three years.  They had no radios and their only outside contact was summer supply ships. One of the three committed suicide Dundas Harbour RCMP - Justin Peteronly months before his term was up. They were replaced but one of the replacements accidentally shot himself while walrus hunting.  The post was closed in 1933 but was used periodically by both the Hudson Bay Company and the RCMP.  It has been permanently closed since 1951.

We returned to the ship and continued our voyage northeast.

 

Photo Captions and credits:

 Thayer Gull. Photo by Justin Peter

 Tent Ring. Photo by Ann Frederking

 Stone Fox house

 Remains of Thule stone house.  Photo by Justin Peter

Landscape panorama

 Arctic Poppy. Note finger for size reference

 Brown Lichen.  Photos by Justin Peter

 Least Willow

RCMP Detachment