I don’t often do court circuits in the central or western arctic, mainly because it is very expensive for Legal Aid to send me so far from the Baffin Island region. One reality of travel in Nunavut is that it is often impossible to travel directly from one community to another and that, doing so, requires one to actually leave the territory. A few weeks ago, for example, I went to court in the little community of Taloyoak, over on the Boothia Peninsula on Canada’s mainland, and the trip took two days to get there and three to return. Essentially, I was required to fly west half-way across the continent, overnight in the Northwest Territories, and then fly half the same distance back east again. Naturally, the flights home were just as long although, as a bonus, I got to spend a total of three nights and one full day in the ‘big city’ of Yellowknife…
Here you can see a panoramic view of the whole community which was taken as I was about to land. One thing that very much differentiates the western and central arctic regions from the east is that the terrain is incredibly flat and almost featureless.
This picture doesn’t quite capture the whole town, but you can certainly get a sense of the rough, rocky nature of the surroundings. My last visits to this community (there have been three or four, I think), were in winter and there was a considerable bleakness to the place that is softened by the absence of snow and ice.
Here is the local hotel in Taloyoak. It is called the ‘Boothia Inn’ and is generally comfortable although, on this trip, as on my last, I had to share my room with another guest. Thankfully, my room-mate on this occasion was a court clerk and thus somewhat well-known to me. The food on offer here is pretty good usually but, as in many northern hotels, you are limited to whatever dish the cook feels like cooking for any given meal.
An interesting little thing I came across was this incredible Ammonite fossil embedded in a huge rock lying right next to the hotel. The rock itself is about 5 feet in largest dimension while the fossil is about 12 inches in diameter. I placed a 25 cent piece on the edge of it so that you can get a sense of the size.
This is the local legal aid office. One of the great things about circuits to the west is there are actually offices to work in, and, when I arrive, the files are already there. In the east, I have to lug the files with me (often weighting 50 pounds or more) and I am limited to meeting clients in my hotel room, bathrooms or storage lockers, or even outside. The permanent offices in the communities outside the Baffin region are a definite bonus for me!
Court on this particular was held in the local school. Normally, it is held in the Community Center which is located just a short walk from the hotel. On this visit, however, the Community Center was undergoing a long-needed renovation.
The local church is situated on a narrow spit of land between the two bays on which the town is located. I took a walk out there one afternoon, over VERY rocky terrain and took this shot from just behind the burial ground.
Here you can see a couple of local women walking with their children, including a baby in the hood of what is known as an ‘amautik’ in the east. There is a sled on front of the house which, at home in the Baffin region would be called a ‘Qamutiq’ or ‘Kamotik’ (the spelling variations are endless), but I believe that the central arctic dialect has a different name for this particular item.
This is a view looking towards the west of town. It is not easy to make out in this picture but, if you look closely towards the horizon, you can see that there is still quite a lot of sea-ice apparent.
Here is Taloyoak International Airport… only one gate but no annoying security checks before boarding.
I took this particular shot just moments after taking off en-route to Yellowknife. It isn’t a great picture but it gives you a pretty good idea of the western summer tundra.
I have included this picture not merely because I like it but because many of my readers will recognize the aircraft from the popular TV show ‘Ice Pilots’. Buffalo Airlines, located in Yellowknife, mostly serves the NWt but they make forays into Nunavut as well and I got this shot in Gjoa Haven on King William Island on a fuel stop during my flight from Taloyoak to Yellowknife
Finally, here is an aerial picture of the big city (at least by northern standards) of Yellowknife. On my two visits here over the week long travel I managed to hit three restaurants and reviews of the same will be following in due course …