Growing up in the Canadian arctic

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
As I mentioned in a previous thread, which got me thinking and reading the good old days posts, about posting some of the pics from back then. My Dad passed away a few years ago, but he ended up spending over two decades living in the arctic, primarily with subsistence hunting. Our supplies came annually, on a barge that followed an icebreaker, which is such a change now, as I see there is now a cruise stop planned there.

As a kid I got to tag along with my Dad on his hunts, and experience a lot that I wish my kids could experience. The difference is they live in Arizona with me, and not a settlement of 120 people in the Canadian arctic. My parents uprooted from Ontario to the NWT, and later also Nunavut on a whim. With some rural hunting, fishing and trapping experience, but no northern living experience. With no one to ask about it, nor anything like the internet obviously.

My father would fondly remember “slabs of fish or caribou or musk ox” for dinner. I must say, after about a decade of musk ox and caribou, I am not a fan. I know some people love it, but I was never a fan, although I like deer and much more so elk. He would spend free time hunting caribou, musk ox, ice fishing, setting nets, etc. It was a good way to live, in my opinion, but experiences that are very hard to give my kids living in the southwest.





































 

Big Fin

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2000
Messages
13,818
Location
Bozeman, MT
I suspect a few here, like myself, feel some inner envy in looking at those pics. Very cool Glad your family had the foresight to records some of it in pictures.

Don't be bashful about sharing more of that story. I could look at pages of those kind of images.
 

LopeHunter

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
2,380
Location
MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
I have been fortunate to hunt every western state including AK and HI but never CA. Never Canada. Never Arctic Circle. I can barely imagine the howling winter nights. Nights that do not lead to daylight in a few hours. Apex predators to the left and to the right. I presume no television. Home-schooled? Were fresh milk, eggs and vegetables brought in by plane? Sounds like the annual barge was the main outside source of food and materials. Was there a doctor or dentist that made rounds? If were sick, was a chopper sent? Do you recall the coldest it got?
 

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
The intent is not to boast or anything. I mean they weren't even technically my hunts, lol. Although I have been jealous of his hunts for 25 years now. My school work would also suffer since I would sit in class and daydream of being on the tundra with a rifle and snowmobile.

But I'll dig around and see what other pertinent photos I have. He had a fair number of stories, swimming across in nothing but his underwear to grab the other end of his line, with his rifle on the other shore only to come across a polar bear. Flipping his snowmobile at night in winter on a hunt with only some musk ox meat with him and had to spend the night under his snowmobile, etc etc. 20 years of stories.

I love looking at all the other pictures on here so I thought I would add a few.
 

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
I have been fortunate to hunt every western state including AK and HI but never CA. Never Canada. Never Arctic Circle. I can barely imagine the howling winter nights. Nights that do not lead to daylight in a few hours. Apex predators to the left and to the right. I presume no television. Home-schooled? Were fresh milk, eggs and vegetables brought in by plane? Sounds like the annual barge was the main outside source of food and materials. Was there a doctor or dentist that made rounds? If were sick, was a chopper sent? Do you recall the coldest it got?
It was certainly a life. Lots of others have since lived there, and a great deal has hanged since we first started living there in the 70s. I was born in Yellowknife (to answer one of your questions).because there was no doctor. They flew my mother out on a charter because there was a nurse and a priest only.

I remember powdered milk, things like that. It tended to be pretty standard. Pantry full of non perishables, meat sourced from the land. Occasionally the Bay would get fresh fruit or vegetables, but the cost was so high we just used canned and powdered.

There was no TV for the first 5-7 years or so. Actually my siblings and I went to the school there. My Dad got he job as the principal and that gave us the opportunity to move there and my mom also worked at the school. I remember riding on the snowmobile to school with my Dad and him shooting ptarmigan on the way to school and keeping hen in the tail of the snowmobile until after class.

The coldest I remember was -65. But I think that was with the windchill. We always had caribou parkas and the like, so I don't remember it ever being too bad.
 
Last edited:

Scott85

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
458
Awesome to see stuff like this. Thanks for sharing!
 

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
Apologies at this verbose and picture heavy post…. I had to break it up as well…

We had used the seal fat and pretty much everything else we didn’t eat for the dogs to fatten them up for the winter, they lived outside without issue.

It would get cold, to be sure, but I suppose we were used to t, as everyone else in Alaska or the high arctic is used to it. My sister would wake up with her hair frozen to her bedroom window. I remember the sheer terror as a kid, when on a dare I licked a doorknob, then hearing the babysitters footsteps as she walked to open the front door.

Frost bite wasn’t too common, although I managed to get it on my ears twice. And a friend of ours got severe frostbite on his toes and had to use a hammer and chisel on them…. A few years later our neighbor’s house was the first thing the winds hit, so their house was completely covered in snow, and we had dead grass next to ours.

It was a pain for my parents getting me to sleep in the summer, garbage bags and blankets lined the windows. The insects weren’t as bad or numerous then as I am sure they are down south or as they are now. Talking to one of our friends that still lives up there he said the caribou herds aren’t near what they once were, and everything else has changed as well. You know what they say, you can never go back home.

Dog sledding was a common way for us to get around, snowmobiles were much more common in the last years we lived up there. In the summer it was 3 wheelers and the Argo. Shot a goose or a ptarmigan over the water? No problem.





This 3 wheeler is actually how I ended up with the scar on my eye…

Looking back I think it’s too bad my Dad never kept any of the antlers, we didn’t have a use for them, and that’s not what you were after anyway, but it would be nice to have a set of my Dads antlers to have in the house. My wife calls the muskox hide I have “your yak”. Until my daughter moves rooms and I get my office back, the muskox is relegated to my closet.

It wasn’t often that people went missing, but it happened on occasion, or there would be someone that died of exposure. Only a handful in our entire time up there. There was a case of them flipping the pump the wrong way, and instead of sucking all the crap out of the house, they pumped it into the house…. Not our house thankfully.



I still remember the musk of the caribou and the hides, even though I haven’t worn it or eaten it in over 2 decades.

The barge that came in annually. Hope you bought all your gifts for the year as well… That’s how my Dads custom Remington 700 and Ruger 77 came in. .308 was the most common caliber up there, .222 for rabbits and foxes.









I actually still use the “caribou bombs” that my Dad loaded 30 years ago on elk and deer today.

My Dad and his boat.







We used to get in a lot of trouble for ice jumping.



Whale bone used for carvings to sell.



Musk ox were relatively easy to track and spot.













 

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
My brother and his musk ox



The common joke, so you lived in Canada? Did you live in an igloo? No, but we did use them hunting (rarely).





It was usually tents, carried on the sleds, especially when ice fishing.





















And this was the town as viewed from the bluff.





My helping out after a hunt….



I've seen some great pictures on here already and I just joined, figured I would share some of my Dads.
 
Last edited:

bobbydean

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2001
Messages
2,023
Location
New Mexico
Thank you.

A look at a different world.

Your comment that you rarely stayed in an igloo. Could you construct one. I think it would require considerable skill.

THANks for letting me look at your world.
 

Blockcaver

New member
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
14
Location
British Columbia
What are the names of the villages in your photos? Neat as heck to have experienced the Canadian Arctic like you have!! I've bow hunted Holman, NWT (Uluhaktuk) and Baker Lake and Resolute, Nunavut recently and really enjoy being with the Inuits and out on their lands. Thanks for posting!
 

Mtnhunter1

Active member
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
153
Location
Big Sky Country-The Last Best Place
Griggs,,,, Thank You Sir! Your old pics and the life that they reflect are utterly amazing.

Makes me feel like I've lived a life of a Downtown LA City Slicker in comparison!

The photos, well, they are just plain AWESOME!
 

rmyoung1

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 12, 2010
Messages
1,128
Whoa, that is awesome. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to see that country sometime.
 

Griggs

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Location
AZ
Griggs,,,, Thank You Sir! Your old pics and the life that they reflect are utterly amazing.

Makes me feel like I've lived a life of a Downtown LA City Slicker in comparison!

The photos, well, they are just plain AWESOME!
You're not alone I constantly compare myself to what my Dad did and experienced, and I'll never have the opportunities that he had. When he moved up there he was about my age now, and I can't think of very many places left where I could go and experience something like that. Not to mention that my wife hates snow... We have to drive an hour north every year because I refuse to have my kids grow up never seeing snow.

What are the names of the villages in your photos? Neat as heck to have experienced the Canadian Arctic like you have!! I've bow hunted Holman, NWT (Uluhaktuk) and Baker Lake and Resolute, Nunavut recently and really enjoy being with the Inuits and out on their lands. Thanks for posting!
Nice! Ya the three you mention have changed a great deal in the over 40 years or so since my parents first moved there, a relative population "boom" among many other changes. As an example, having someone come to town to do a bow hunt would have been absolutely unheard of at the time. I know when we moved there were only 120 people, it having only been a town for about 30 years or so at that point IIRC, but I read the other day that it now has about 400 people. I have thought for years about going back, just to do a hunt again, or see some of our friends there still, but I fear it would ruin my memories of the places we lived. It was an interesting experience to be sure, just yesterday my mother was saying how she was upset that at school they weren't translating the schoolwork for me, but growing up learning a language that is spoken by so few in the world was something I also appreciated.

Amusingly enough most of the time was spent in Holman (Ulukhaktok since '06 I think). We also spent time in other places as well, such as Yellowknife which was massive by comparison, Inuvik, Arviat, etc. In the last few years we moved around a bit for my Dads work. Even in the early '90s my Dad had said to me he wasn't fond of them, "because they had all the detractors of living in the north, but none of the benefits" and he always missed his time in Holman. I don't know how/if Resolute has changed, as I have not spoken to anyone there recently, hopefully it remains close to how it was and that its location has shielded it from encroachment. Holman has certainly changed, with upcoming cruise ship stops planned there, and the arctic we knew is likely no longer there. My guess is that you were in Holman a while back, Resolute and Baker Lake more recently?

I'd be very interested to hear about your hunts, particularly in Holman, to hear how it is now, where you stayed, who guided you, did you have to charter a flight, , etc. etc. I am assuming you had a guide, as generally to those not from there needed a guide, and a lot of times the tags allotted to the Inuit were sold to tourists in the last couple of decades (as was relayed to us now) as part of their income source. I know the herds used to be very plentiful, but a friend of ours up there that we spoke to last year told us they have really dropped in number. So I imagine your hunts were far harder than ours were, as my Dad said none of his shots were within 600 yards the last few years we were up there, and that would be a hell of a shot with a bow.

We had one instance where we went out with our friend to get some caribou (he actually needed the meat, we were just tagging along), didn't see any caribou at all. Fire off all our ammo target shooting then started heading back. Came around a bluff and saw a huge herd of caribou, so he chased down the herd, with a lot of effort, he got a caribou. That's the reason I always save a mag for the ride home. Polar bear used to come through town on occasion and my babysitter had to rush us inside as it was behind our neighbors house. Despite my youthful protestations of wanting a closer look at the bear and her cub... I'd love to hear your take on how it was when you were there, from a passing through sort of viewpoint.
 
Top