Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Way way up

Last week I had a chance to visit Canada's most northernly community Grise Fiord. There are 2 other inhabited locations north of Grise (Alert and Eureka) but both of these are manned stations rather than communities. Although it has a difficult past, Inuit people from Pond Inlet and Inukjuak were resettled there by the Canadian government with far less than full disclosure of the difficult conditions in the high arctic, today Grise Fiord is a true community where people grow up, go to school and call home.
I was there for only a couple of days to provide a visiting doctor clinic but the people made me feel very welcome. I got to go on some nice drives along the shore line, and we had a nice barbecue after work one day while I was there. This time of year the sun is high in the sky 24 hours a day, in the high arctic this isn't summer but Light Season. The Inuktitut name for Grise Fiord is Aujuittuq meaning place that never melts. In spite of the name it was 14 C and sunny the entire time I was there.
I've been up in the Eastern Arctic for long enough now that I just accept the landscape as a normal part of life, and sometimes forget how dramatic and unique it can be. The landscape in Grise is impossible to ignore though and reminded me of that. Here are some pictures from the top of the world.

A view up a fiord on Ellesmere Island. (Taken through the window of the twin otter.)


Looking up the valley above Grise Fiord airport.


A glacier moving towards the shoreline.


A barbecue with the health centre staff, that's me and Tommy who is the health centre's interpreter, driver, handyman, and everything else to keep the health centre going.


A view of the sea ice from the air.


The twin otter lands at the airport. The landing approach is a flight directly towards a cliff, then hang a hard left, fly along the cliff and land on the short dirt strip.


A view of the town and surrounding mountains at take off.

10 comments:

freshmd said...

Amazing. Looks like a completely different world.

N said...

Beautiful photos! I'm the nurse going in there next week (I met you once in the Pang airport). I'm sorry to hear you're leaving the north soon! I've enjoyed following your blog. Good luck to both of you back in BC!

Nancy

Dr. J. said...

Have fun up there Nancy, it is a great spot. I'm not totally leaving the north.....I'll be splitting my time between Vancouver and the Baffin region for the next year, though it will be different to not be based out of Iqaluit all of the time.
Dr. J.

Dragonfly said...

Wow!! That is pretty spectacular. Canada has so much natural beauty.

Elaine said...

Those photos are just amazing - bet that is a really hairy landing. It reminds me of going in to land at Hong Kong airport (although in a rather different scale) in the old days before they built a new runway.

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Way Way Up said...

A good choice of title.

:)

www.Gatto999.it said...

Great ...

Ciao from Italy
=^.^=

Joe Hine said...

Hi Doc....I spent April 08 in Grise as a visiting RCMP member. Experience of a lifetime. I'm retired now and wish I had discovered it earlier.

Penelope Rock said...

Wow! Definitely a haven for rest and beauty amidst the ice, eh.

Thanks for sharing,
Peny | October Is World MRSA Awareness Month