Growing up in the Canadian arctic

kansasdad

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Wow, its almost as if you grew up on another planet.

I bet that most of your AZ friends haven't heard many stories of your upbringing as it seems that most TCK (third culture kids) keep the most "foreign" parts of their lives mostly hidden.

Do you have vestiges of local language(s) still rambling around in your head?
 

Griggs

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AZ
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.
They weren't that difficult, we used to make them as kids for forts, same as kids anywhere I presume, just a different shape, lol.


Wow, its almost as if you grew up on another planet.

I bet that most of your AZ friends haven't heard many stories of your upbringing as it seems that most TCK (third culture kids) keep the most "foreign" parts of their lives mostly hidden.

Do you have vestiges of local language(s) still rambling around in your head?
I still speak a little, not near what I could when I was young. But the language was always easy, I've ben multilingual my whole life. But you're completely correct, most of my friends have never heard anything of my formative years, some don't even know I was born in Canada.
 

Blockcaver

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Griggs,

ULUKHAKTOK/HOLMAN, NWT: A friend and I drove up to Yellowknife in late August 2016, then flew to Copper Mine (Kugluktuk) before flying on to Ulukhaktok up on Victoria Island for the musk ox hunt. The first day we went a long ways North from town by quad, each driving across the gravel and rocky undulating barrens at 72* N, wondering what musk ox ate. We built a comfortable tent camp with small wall tents covered in blankets...the "original Arctic Oven tents" I think. It was late August and the weather was freezing nights and cold to cool windy days with no bugs, and no snow yet. The next day was extremely long with much glassing from each high point across never ending vistas. My buddy spotted two bulls way out, maybe 5 miles and he and his two Inuit guides planned a stalk. My two Inuit guides and I headed on and covered an incredible amount of country glassing. We did spot 18 muskox, but no big bulls in the herd. We kept going, finally in the late afternoon we located the other group, busy skinning my buddy's bull. He'd gotten to within 40 yds or so, arrowing a dandy.

The other bull had run off, but we soon located him. I was able to use terrain to get about 80 yards before he busted me and moved off. We relocated him with enough light for another stalk and I finally got him, another old bull, with a 45 yd shot. We didn't get back to camp until really late. Really an exciting hunt with two good archery bulls the first day. It started sleeting the second day but broke out better by the time we decided to head back to town since we were tagged out and had really seen the area.

A cruise ship was docked in the harbor. Apparently it was traveling from Anchorage to New York via the NW passage with over a thousand passengers on board plus the staff. Costs for the 30 day cruise was $18k to $100k per person from what I heard. When they were docked, they only let about 20 passengers at a time come into Ulukhaktok to keep from overwhelming the town. The local artists had their best day ever with over $40k in sales when the ship was there. I think the population was about 400 Inuits. We stayed in a nice B&B in town with an Inuit lady that was a fine cook. There were not many vehicles (RCMP and water truck were all I remember), but everyone had a quad and snow machine. They put the quads up on blocks in the winter to prevent the rubber tires from cracking in the cold.

The Inuits still pull wooden sleds with mild steel strapping on the runners with their quads in the summer and by snowmobile in the winter. After about 40 km across the gravel the steel on the runners would wear out and require rebuilding. The sleds were mainly roped together rather than screwed or nailed, which promoted flexibility. Being 12' or more long they spanned the undulations in the ground fairly well. Evidence of sleds that fell apart and were abandoned was found a few times on the trip. The guides were very resourceful and a pleasure to spend time with.

I asked where the polar bears were at the time of year, and they said 300 miles north. That said an Inuit lady killed a "Pizzly" or maybe it was a "Grolar" bear 3 km from town that was harrassing her around her summer cabin. It was mounted in the airport, and looked a whole lot like a very light colored tundra grizzly, but apparently was a cross....one of the first identified up there.
 

Griggs

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Mar 3, 2019
Messages
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AZ
Griggs,

ULUKHAKTOK/HOLMAN, NWT: A friend and I drove up to Yellowknife in late August 2016, then flew to Copper Mine (Kugluktuk) before flying on to Ulukhaktok up on Victoria Island for the musk ox hunt. The first day we went a long ways North from town by quad, each driving across the gravel and rocky undulating barrens at 72* N, wondering what musk ox ate. We built a comfortable tent camp with small wall tents covered in blankets...the "original Arctic Oven tents" I think. It was late August and the weather was freezing nights and cold to cool windy days with no bugs, and no snow yet. The next day was extremely long with much glassing from each high point across never ending vistas. My buddy spotted two bulls way out, maybe 5 miles and he and his two Inuit guides planned a stalk. My two Inuit guides and I headed on and covered an incredible amount of country glassing. We did spot 18 muskox, but no big bulls in the herd. We kept going, finally in the late afternoon we located the other group, busy skinning my buddy's bull. He'd gotten to within 40 yds or so, arrowing a dandy.

The other bull had run off, but we soon located him. I was able to use terrain to get about 80 yards before he busted me and moved off. We relocated him with enough light for another stalk and I finally got him, another old bull, with a 45 yd shot. We didn't get back to camp until really late. Really an exciting hunt with two good archery bulls the first day. It started sleeting the second day but broke out better by the time we decided to head back to town since we were tagged out and had really seen the area.

A cruise ship was docked in the harbor. Apparently it was traveling from Anchorage to New York via the NW passage with over a thousand passengers on board plus the staff. Costs for the 30 day cruise was $18k to $100k per person from what I heard. When they were docked, they only let about 20 passengers at a time come into Ulukhaktok to keep from overwhelming the town. The local artists had their best day ever with over $40k in sales when the ship was there. I think the population was about 400 Inuits. We stayed in a nice B&B in town with an Inuit lady that was a fine cook. There were not many vehicles (RCMP and water truck were all I remember), but everyone had a quad and snow machine. They put the quads up on blocks in the winter to prevent the rubber tires from cracking in the cold.

The Inuits still pull wooden sleds with mild steel strapping on the runners with their quads in the summer and by snowmobile in the winter. After about 40 km across the gravel the steel on the runners would wear out and require rebuilding. The sleds were mainly roped together rather than screwed or nailed, which promoted flexibility. Being 12' or more long they spanned the undulations in the ground fairly well. Evidence of sleds that fell apart and were abandoned was found a few times on the trip. The guides were very resourceful and a pleasure to spend time with.

I asked where the polar bears were at the time of year, and they said 300 miles north. That said an Inuit lady killed a "Pizzly" or maybe it was a "Grolar" bear 3 km from town that was harrassing her around her summer cabin. It was mounted in the airport, and looked a whole lot like a very light colored tundra grizzly, but apparently was a cross....one of the first identified up there.
Blockcaver,

That’s really interesting! Also sounds like a great time on the hunt! You don’t happen to remember the name of the lady that put you up, by chance? There was no bed and breakfast when we were there; usually you stayed with someone you knew in town, but the population has since grown by approximately 300% since then. I’d be interested to see what family has branched out now, if you remember feel free to PM that to me.
The food was good, although I never developed a taste for musk ox or caribou, and the raw seal and whale was never something that I liked. I always liked the rabbit and ptarmigan though, and I did love bannock, I still make it to this day for my kids, especially prior to or during a hunt.

That’s funny about the musk ox diet, because there really never appears to be much there aside from the occasional grasses, moss and lichen, lol. Seems like the camp setup hasn’t changed any at all, we still have the canvas tent sitting in the garage.

Good job on getting close in for a good shot.

I remembered reading about the upcoming cruises, but the price being astronomical. There was a boat that came through when I was really young (I can’t for the life of me remember what kind) where all the kids (myself included to help out) to sell the wares. So I was the only white, blonde haired, blue eyed kid helping hawk carvings.

We had heard in the later years of grizzly mating with polar bear, but I had never seen one. That sounds like a great time. If I could afford to fly up there now I would love to, although my wife would die of shock up there. My father had made mention in his last few years of wanting to go back up there and live off the land again with some of our friends there. Any pictures from the hunt?
 

BearFoot

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Alaska
A fantastic share Griggs! Nice snapshot of your upbringing. I never cared for seal, whale, or Muktuk. Seagull egg yokes have that fishy taste.
 

Griggs

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AZ
A fantastic share Griggs! Nice snapshot of your upbringing. I never cared for seal, whale, or Muktuk. Seagull egg yokes have that fishy taste.
Thanks.

@Blockcaver, you made mention of abandoned parts, and such. We found a rifle with a broken stock once, out in the middle of nowhere, I think we still have it. Along with some other things from a while back, such as ulus, etc.



And just since I have more pics laying around...

A more traditional style of hunting equipment.



which I think is still kicking around in the garage somewhere alongside the kayak.

Caribou freezer.



And interestingly enough, the soapstone for the carvings isn't even local, it has to be shipped in for them to carve it to ship it out. Horn and whalebone obviously are from there.

 

ewludwig

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Outstanding thread. Thank you for sharing. I rough it for a week and think I’m doing something difficult. All about perspective.
 

Blockcaver

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Blockcaver,

That’s really interesting! Also sounds like a great time on the hunt! You don’t happen to remember the name of the lady that put you up, by chance? There was no bed and breakfast when we were there; usually you stayed with someone you knew in town, but the population has since grown by approximately 300% since then. I’d be interested to see what family has branched out now, if you remember feel free to PM that to me.
The food was good, although I never developed a taste for musk ox or caribou, and the raw seal and whale was never something that I liked. I always liked the rabbit and ptarmigan though, and I did love bannock, I still make it to this day for my kids, especially prior to or during a hunt.

That’s funny about the musk ox diet, because there really never appears to be much there aside from the occasional grasses, moss and lichen, lol. Seems like the camp setup hasn’t changed any at all, we still have the canvas tent sitting in the garage.

Good job on getting close in for a good shot.

I remembered reading about the upcoming cruises, but the price being astronomical. There was a boat that came through when I was really young (I can’t for the life of me remember what kind) where all the kids (myself included to help out) to sell the wares. So I was the only white, blonde haired, blue eyed kid helping hawk carvings.

We had heard in the later years of grizzly mating with polar bear, but I had never seen one. That sounds like a great time. If I could afford to fly up there now I would love to, although my wife would die of shock up there. My father had made mention in his last few years of wanting to go back up there and live off the land again with some of our friends there. Any pictures from the hunt?
Griggs..not sure how to send you a private message...(I typed one out to you but it appears it may be a public "conversation"?) I don't understand the site as I am new here.
 

Europe

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Griggs

A wonderful thread. Thank you.
I have a friend who is a first nation individual living in The Yukon Territories and thanks to her we had the opportunity to experience your "way of life" in small doses, but loved it. We traveled through a lot of the three Territories and absolutely loved the Mackenzie mountain range/river basin, but Nunavut and even Greenland were interesting visits. Great times, even better hunts and wonderful memories---thanks to your posts many of them I was able revisit in my mind. Thank you
 

BrentD

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There are spectacular posts, Griggs. I could ask a dozen or more questions, but I'll settle for just one. What are the fish that look sort of like big lake trout, and how do you catch them, hook and line, or net or spear or.. ?
 

Griggs

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There are spectacular posts, Griggs. I could ask a dozen or more questions, but I'll settle for just one. What are the fish that look sort of like big lake trout, and how do you catch them, hook and line, or net or spear or.. ?
Thanks all, I just figured I would share some of my Dads pictures and stories. Although he's likely rolling in his grave because he would never have talked to people he didn't know about any of this. Although he certainly had a collection of great stories from the years up there.

Feel free to ask all the questions you want. Many people have lived there or in places like this before, or still do, but I have no issue answering any questions as best I can.

We generally had arctic char and lake trout. Our fishing was predominantly with nets, except of course for ice fishing. It was just easier to go check the nets rather than spend time out on the water fishing, as it was more for food than to fish.





and just some more pics, which is why I started the thread so I didn't hijack another one.



As Blockcaver pointed out, the sleds were lashed together.











Much less TV watching back then, and no one on Twitter or Facebook at the table.
 

Dave N

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This has been a really cool thread to follow. Some great pictures from back in the day showing a lifestyle most of us would never even think of. You see stuff on TV now and then, but this is the real deal. Thanks!
 

BrentD

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Those fish super tasty to me. I suppose eating them as often and you did might make them seem pretty ordinary, but lake trout are a favorite of mine.

I was particularly surprised to see your dad's sailboat. I don't think I have seen a picture of a sailboat in that part of the world. Makes lots of sense since parts and fuel for motor boats would be expensive and hard to come by, but I'd like that boat on any water.

Do you know if rising sea level a bit concern up there now?

There must be some stories behind those bear skins. Were they hunted for food at all?

You certainly had some adventures. I hope you record a few of them permanently. I'd love to hear you tell a few stories on The Moth radio show. Maybe I will some day. :)
 

BrentD

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And just since I have more pics laying around...

A more traditional style of hunting equipment.



which I think is still kicking around in the garage somewhere alongside the kayak.

I am guessing that this is a seal hunting set up and you have an indicator of sorts in that small pin with the flat top on the right side of the picture.

What are some of the other parts? Looks like a club maybe net to the reindeer covered "stool".

How is it to pull a seal up through the hole and snow?
 

Griggs

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Those fish super tasty to me. I suppose eating them as often and you did might make them seem pretty ordinary, but lake trout are a favorite of mine.

I was particularly surprised to see your dad's sailboat. I don't think I have seen a picture of a sailboat in that part of the world. Makes lots of sense since parts and fuel for motor boats would be expensive and hard to come by, but I'd like that boat on any water.

Do you know if rising sea level a bit concern up there now?

There must be some stories behind those bear skins. Were they hunted for food at all?

You certainly had some adventures. I hope you record a few of them permanently. I'd love to hear you tell a few stories on The Moth radio show. Maybe I will some day. :)
My Dads boat was more of a nautical interest to him. There were few sailboats, mostly canoes, kayaks and outboard motor types (at least 40 years ago). You are correct on the parts issue though. One example was our snowmobile caught on fire, we covered it in snow to put it out. My Dad pieced it back together from scraps and kept it running for many years afterwards.

I still like the fish now, an at the time it was ok to me. But I know my Dad loved it, and very often would reminisce about the giant slabs of fish and how much he liked it. I am not sure of how the rising sea levels are a concern, although one of our friends still there that we spoke with recently, ha made mention of some significant changes there. Aside from the population growth, other issues associated with that, the caribou herds were "almost gone", musk ox weren't as numerous, due to overhunting. I'm sure that stems from a population that is far larger than it started out as, with subsistence hunting still being pretty much a necessity, as in my experience no family ever wasted any parts of a kill. We used the hides for clothing (rabbit made for great gloves), bone for carvings, guts for dogs, etc.

Bear was never hunted for meat in my recollection, but more as a precautionary measure, i.e. harassment. Although I had polar bear meat, and I did not like it in the least.

As for a show, my Dad was a great orator, but I could never retell his stories and do them even one iota of justice. Although I am writing a biography for my kids about him, as he did many other things including a decade as a consultant in Moscow after his retirement.

This has been a really cool thread to follow. Some great pictures from back in the day showing a lifestyle most of us would never even think of. You see stuff on TV now and then, but this is the real deal. Thanks!
Thanks! I watch some of those shows now merely to be reminded of how it was. If you treat it like a movie of sorts, just like "Ice lake rebels" if you pan to the right 5 degrees you can see downtown, that sort of thing.

I am guessing that this is a seal hunting set up and you have an indicator of sorts in that small pin with the flat top on the right side of the picture.

What are some of the other parts? Looks like a club maybe net to the reindeer covered "stool".

How is it to pull a seal up through the hole and snow?
I will have to ask my Mom about this one, as my Dad is not around to ask and they were not my hunts. I cannot remember the seal hunts, as they stopped occurring for us when I was very little. I'm not sure if it was increasing regulation, or changes in the law or what but I was about 2 when we stopped hunting seal, but the Inuit continued. The dogs continued to eat other parts of the animals, like fish guts, etc. but nothing was better than seal fat for them. So I will get back to you on the specifics of the hunts.

ETA: Spoke with my Mom briefly today, my Dad did "accompanied hunts" for seal, as a non native he was not allowed to hunt seal, so it was the "guides hunt". But he was allotted 1000 lb. of trout and char on his permit, if memory serves...

Also, according to mi madre, apparently that was "everything needed to hunt a seal - harpoon with long lead on it, the tip of the harpoon stays in the seal and the long cord is used to pull it in. The caribou pads are for kneeling on the ice and waiting for it to appear (assuming you are hunting seal on land - looking for seal that come up and sit on the ice). They used the same harpoon when in a boat."
 
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elkrchr

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Priceless photos! Thank you for sharing. I love looking at those kind of photos and reading about the history behind them.
 
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