Friday, 30 December 2016

Yule Time in the Arctic

As last year, a small Ultima Thule collection of Arctic Christmas images in northern locations from East to West.

Christmas lights in Kotzebue, 66º 53' N, Alaska.

Iqaluit, 66º 44' N, Canada.

Sisimiut, 66º 56´ N, West Greenland - Christmas gathering.

Nuuk, 64º 10' N, the capital of Greenland.

Shop window in Longyearbyen, at 78º 22' N, today's northermost, in Svalbard Island. 

Røros, 62º 34' N, Norway.

Trondheim, 63º 25' N, Norway - Yuletime market.

It's difficult to tell the stars from the Christmas lights in Tórshavn, 62º N, Faröe Islands.

Kirovsk, 67º 37' N, Western Arctic Russia - Lenine looking at the Tree.

Novy Urengoy, 66º 05' N, Arctic Siberia.

And now, time for wishing a happy New Year !

Monday, 26 December 2016

A Christmas favourite, by good Queen Judy Collins

One of those unforgetable voices. Hope she has a merry Yule, like you all brave Thuleans.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Floe Edge - exhibition with Inuit Art from Nunavut

This is my Christmas gift for all who come to visit Ultima Thule in this Yule Season. And, also to celebrate the magical number of 500 000  views recently reached.

The Canada House at Trafalgar Square, London, was hosting a small exhibition of Inuit Art from Nunavut, mostly from the Cap Dorset Fine Arts studio in Baffin Island.

Names like Ningeokuluk Teevee, Quavavau Manumie, Shuvinai Ashoona, Tim Pitsiulak were already familiar to me; at Ultima Thule I published a post some time ago about their art, among others. But Lavinia van Heuvelen was a new name I had never heard, and I loved her work.

Nunavut is a rather unique place: it is one of the most remote and sparsely populated territories in the world, with a population of just 32 000 spread out over an area the size of Western Europe, living in a harsh land under extreme weather, and yet it is one of Canada’s creative regions.

In Nunavut there are over 4 000 practicing artists - the arts are promoted alongside other economic activities like mining, hunting or tourism.

Some of the items exhibited:

The small Ivory Sedna Container is a precious work by Lavinia van Heuvelen, from Iqaluit (2013).

Jamasie Pitseolak, from the Cape Dorset Art school, made this ring from soapstone and glass:

Proposal (2007)

This 2014 printed drawing is the work of Quavavau Manumie (or Kavavaow Mannomee), a famous inuit artist also from Cape Dorset:

Cape Dorset is a small village on the large Baffin Island, Northeastern Canada, where Native Arts have been flourishing since 1957.

Cape Dorset's 'Kinngait' studios, where the best art from Nunavut is teached and produced.

Tim Pitsiulak and Shuvinai Ashoona drawing at the Kinngait Studio.

Qavavau Manumie is one of my favourite Nunavut artists.

And as this is the season of Greetings...

Christmas Tree, 2007, by Qavavau Manumie.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

500 000 at last !

Celebrations here ! I reached


Thank you so much, Thulean friends. By now, the Arctic is under its long night, our travels there should be more careful, though the fantastic beauty remains a nature's as well as a man's work wonder.

Like here, in Isortoq, Greenland:

Merry Christmas Holidays !

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Kuujjuaq, the lively main town on Ungava Bay, west of Labrador's Torngat Range


Kuujjuaq, the main town in Nunavik.

Lacated on the west shore of the Koksoak river, some 160 km to the southwest of Kangiqsualujjuaq, and 48 km upstream from Ungava Bay, this is a larger native settlement.

Coordinates: 58° 06′ N, 68° 23′ W (sub-arctic)
Population: ~ 2400

Kuujjuaq is a fast growing community, the largest native village in Nunavik. Housing quality and services are still improving, and the village offers a number of hotels, restaurants, stores, arts and crafts shops and even a bank.

Prefab houses are now reaching a higher standard.

New housing is also more richly coloured.

Nuvuuk Bay, a residential neighbourhood with a view.

A few trees grow in a tundra-covered terrain.

Same view in Winter.

Although the tree line is very close, the boreal forest is present around Kuujjuaq. Patches of black spruce and larch stand in marshy valleys. 

A short History

The first Europeans to have contact with local Inuit were Moravians. In 1811, after a trip along the coasts of Labrador and Ungava Bay, the missionaries arrived at an Inuit camp on the east shore of the Koksoak River, a few miles downstream from the present-day settlement. A small Mission was built there.

In 1830, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) started the fur trade business in Nunavik by establishing their first post on the east shore of the Koksoak River. In 1948 a nursing station, a school and a weather station were built.  Later, in 1958, the HBC moved upstream and it was followed by the families that still lived across the river. In 1961, an Inuit co-operative was created.

Nowadays Kuujjuaq gained strategic importance with the two-strip airport, a local transport hub. Economic growth shows in the hotels and restaurants, shops and bank agency created in recent years. A health centre and two schools also serve Ungava Bay area.

Jaanimmarik School.

Post office

Notre Dame de Fatima, catholic church.

A Convenience store

Town Hall and Cultural Centre

Santa's Candy drop.

Auberge Inn, Kuujjuaq

The CIBC bank agency

With two runways, Kuujjuaq's airport is the transportation hub of the entire region.

The Koksoak river

Daily life in Kuujjuaq is closely tied to the river and subjected to the tidal rythm.

About 50 km upstream from Ungava Bay, the river's currents are under tidal influence. Fishing is subject to those conditions.

Low tide at the Koksoak.

Nuvuuk Bay at night


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Kangiqsualujjuaq, an Inuit settlement on the coast of Ungava Bay, Nunavik

Following the previous post on the Torngat Range mountains, this is now about two small inuit villages on Ungava Bay, by the Hudson Strait entrance to Hudson Bay. Kangiqsualujjuaq and Kuujjuaq, 100 km to the west of the Torngats, are old settlements but they grew more important with the reallocation of inuit scattered communities by the government around the 60´s-70´s. Both are also situated close to the tree-line separating forest from tundra, so mixed terrains and flora border the local rivers.

Kangiqsualujjuaq is an Inuit village located on the east coast of Ungava Bay at the mouth of the George River, in Nunavik, Canada.

The name "Kangiqsualujjuaq" means "very large bay" in Inuit language.

Coordinates: 58°41′ N, 65° 57′ W
Population: ~ 900.

The town itself is laid out on a grid pattern over levelled ground, with two unsealed roads leading a few kilometres beyond the mountain ridges at either end of the village.

Kangiqsualujjuaq did not really develop as a village before the early 1960s. The Hudson Bay Company operated a post south of today's village, called George River. Since 1959, the Inuit populations living around established there the first co-operative in Northern Quebec for the purpose of marketing Arctic char, and the population started growing.

The construction of the village began in 1962 and, a few years later, all inhabitants of George River lived in prefabricated houses. A school was built in 1963, as well as a Coop store, post office and other facilities. In 1980, Kangiqsualujjuaq was definitely a town.

The community was stricken by an avalanche in the early morning of January 1, 1999, during the New Year celebrations. The school Gymnasium was destroyed, with fatalities. A new school was built in a safer distance from the dangerous hillside - Ulluriaq school.

Ulluriaq school.

Biking is whenever possible.

School bus.

The heated indoor pool, built in 2007, a precious new facilty. There is also a covered Arena for ice hockey, and a Youth Center for music, Voleyball, pool and other activities.

The new senior residence. Canada makes en effort to improve the quality of life of the northern native population that you don't see in Alaska or Siberia.

The local Hostel.

New two-story houses have improved comfort.

- 45º is 'normal' in Winter; houses are built on piles (or stilts) to help insulation and stiffness.

Twilight in Kangiqsualujjuaq.

The main activities in Kangiqsualujjuaq include hunting of caribou, seal and beluga whale, Arctic char and salmon fishing. Inuit crafts provide presently an additional income.

Life here is closely linked to the river and the rythm of its tides, as tidal movements from the river's mouth run upstream to the village.

George River

George River is famous for caribou herds living nearby and offering the sight of caribou crossing the waters.

Though suffering a dramatic decline some years ago, the George River caribou herd rebounded with amazing vitality, and is presently the largest ungulate population in the world, estimated at several hundreds of thousands of heads.

In a single year, some of these animals will travel thousands of kilometers across Canada’s boreal forest between their wintering and calving grounds.

The George River also teems with fish, particularly arctic char, Atlantic salmon and a variety of trout. Many visitors are attracted by its offer of unbelievable fishing.

Glorious light under spring sun on quiet waters.


NEXT: Kuujjuaq, the main town in Nunavik.