Hope and promise in Cape Dorset. A child stands high above the hamlet in the setting sun. Photo: Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com Please click for larger image
Follow the Yellow (make that ochre) Dirt Roads
I visited the Canadian Arctic for the first time in May, 2014. After a day in Iqaluit (Nunavut’s capital) I flew to Cape Dorset (pop. approx 1300) at the southern tip of Baffin Island. Visit Brush with Beauty: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 for more posts & photos.
Although the landscape surrounding Cape Dorset is stunning, it was the ochre ribbon-like roads looping through the hamlet, and the constant activity on them, that intrigued me most. Most people walk or drive ATVs (skidoos in winter) to socialize, shop and work. There are few larger vehicles, but the school bus seems always on the go, as are the trucks that deliver fresh water and empty the septic tanks. Thus my first steps out on the town (well, hamlet) were a delightful contrast to my city experience, where the roads are hectic and the sidewalks empty.
Next to my hotel (Dorset Suites), and across from Tellik Inlet, is the world-renowned Kinngait Arts Studio, the oldest printing studio in Canada (more on this historic studio in a further post). The studios are the distinctive red-roofed, green and yellow buildings below, and have been around since 1957. To see larger images please click on the photos below.
Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and Tellik Inlet, Cape Dorset, from the Dorset Suites parking lot. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
Below: Tellik Inlet by Kinngait Arts. Turn right to go to the two grocery and supply stores, and the RCMP station. Turn left to find the Wildlife Office, the municipal pier, and the gazebo on the hill.
Tellik Inlet. By Kinngait Studios. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
The gazebo, seen from most vantage points of the hamlet, is an unusual landmark for such a northern community, but, hey, I loved it. A sheltered bit of architecture, where I could start each day and take in the glorious landscape. In the picture below, you can spot the gazebo above the Wildlife Office (the building on the left ). Click on the picture below to see a larger image
From left. Wildlife Office, Dept. of Sustainability. The gazebo is just above it. A polar bear hide dries on a stretcher. A private home sits picturesquely by the municipal pier. Photo: www.christinemontague.com
Wildlife Dept.building. Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague 2014
Polar bear hide dries on stretcher. This is the underside of the pelt. Photo: Christine Montague
The polar bear hide seen above was huge. I mean hair-raising, goose bump inspiring big. I wish I had thought to put my hand or iPhone by a paw for reference.
Meanwhile, on the same day I happily arrived in Cape Dorset, a polar bear attacked two Arctic Bay hunters as they slept in their tent. They survived, but only after a fight for their lives. For a dramatic account of the attack, and some equally dramatic polar bear facts, read http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_polar_bear_attack_survivors_thankful_to_be_alive/
I love polar bears, and my polar bear paintings are portraiture tributes to these great mammals whose future is of concern. But up north? One can never forget these beautiful, intelligent, powerful kings of the arctic are dangerous.
Big Bear Passing (48″ by 36″ polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague )
Big painting of a Big Bear Passing is available for sale. A portion of the sale of this polar bear art, as well as other of my polar bear paintings will now be donated to Polar Bears International & Toronto Zoo polar bear research. Please contact me for details. www.christinemontague.com Copyright Christine Montague 2014 Please click for larger image
So, up the hill to the gazebo.
Road to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
The Cape Dorset gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
Kinngait Mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
Below. Snowmobilers travel on frozen Tellik Inlet to get to open water beyond.
Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com Please click for larger image
Zoom in on snowmobiles & qamutik (sled). Photo: Christine Montague 2014
I was forewarned to expect roads thick with mud, but they were dry and solid. Later in summer, when the roads become too dry, passing ATVs and the odd car send up clouds of pervasive dust. But for now, as it was the first week of sunny, cheery weather, children, especially boys, were out on their bikes, pedalling uphill with admirable ease.
Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: Christine Montague 2014
To be continued…
Note: I use a Sony A7r with 35mm Zeiss lens. iPhone 5s was my back up.