Taloyoak… You can’t get there from here!

Taloyoak Trip 1

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…

Taloyoak Trip 2

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.

Taloyoak Trip 3

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.

Taloyoak Trip 4

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.

Taloyoak Trip 5

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.

Taloyoak Trip 6

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!

Taloyoak Trip 7

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.

Taloyoak Trip 8

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.

Taloyoak Trip 9

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.

Taloyoak Trip 10

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.

Taloyoak Trip 11

Here is Taloyoak International Airport… only one gate but no annoying security checks before boarding.

Taloyoak Trip 12

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.

Taloyoak Trip 13

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

Taloyoak Trip 14

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 …

18 thoughts on “Taloyoak… You can’t get there from here!”

  1. I think Nunavut needs a law that hotels can only charge guests half price when they need to share a room, and permit sharing only in emergency situations due to weather, not just double booking routinely to make more money.

    Sharing a room with a stranger (or even someone you know but aren’t intimate enough to share with) is just wrong, and the hotels up north get away with it as they guilt those who complain into feeling like they are being culturally inappropriate and not understanding of the “realities” of the north. The reality of the north though is that innkeepers will happily sell the same room twice for double the income, and the inconvenience is borne only by their customers. A law like this would make the number of hotel rooms go up very quickly, and at least the customer would be getting a deal when forced to share, and the innkeeper would not benefit unless they increased the amount of “product” they had available to sell.

    It’s risky too to share rooms with non-family members. Possibility of disease, theft, crime, privacy loss … The hotels charge high rates, they can provide us with privacy with what they are charging us.

    1. I tend to agree … I REALLY hate having to share. Mind you, I have only come across being asked to share a couple of times when I discovered that the hotel was not in fact full and the management simply didn’t want to clean an extra room… both times I refused to be doubled up. Generally it only happens when there really is no spare space. In Taloyoak there was a huge party of construction workers staying long term. Still, it is a situation that needs to change…

      1. I have been traveling to the north for over thirty years on business and have been to many communities from the Yukon to Baffin.
        Most of us who travel up north are business travelers. Although I have had to share a room a few times generally it does not happen very often and the people have been polite.

        The issue is not that they are gouging but it that it costs a lot of money per person to provide services in the North.Rooms often include meals and food up north is very expensive. Two people, two meals. Water and sewage is trucked in (and out) to most buildings and also is very expensive Two People, two showers, twice as many bathroom trips. With twice as may people there is twice as much housekeeping because both beds are being used, twice as much laundry. And if the hotel is empty with just one or two persons the hotel is probably not making any profit. Most small communities hotels probably barely make expenses for most of the year.

        Most rooms in the small towns have two beds which easily accommodates families. With a limited amount of rooms in each community sharing can be come a real necessity. For example all 8 or 10 of the rooms are all taken by say general contractors or dental or legal teams and somebody has to come up, say to service the power station then either someone has to leave town or the power guy can’t come up to fix the power. Or people have to share rooms. Its not like there is another hotel a few miles away in another town.

        This is not Toronto, but if you really don’t want to risk sharing a room pay for two beds. $500 per night for a private room instead of $250 might be worth it to you. And if that doesn’t work, just choose not to come, the North probably won’t miss you or your attitude.

      2. First let me point out that, unlike yourself, I am not merely an occasional traveler to the North. I live here and have done so for 17 years… accordingly, you can save your explanations as to ‘how things are up here’ to impress your southern friends…

        My ‘attitude’, as you call it, is one shared by many long term residents, but if you had actually bothered to read my comment properly, you would see that I was not complaining about doubling up.. but having to do so at those times when the hotel is not full…

        And you might take note that the north doesn’t miss know it all southerners who come up here once in a while and think they are experts

    1. I’ve found quite a few ammonite fossils before and this looked pretty much the same except larger. I gather that they can be up to several feet across in some cases.

  2. John, I must say I admire your hardy nature and obviously generous spirit. For years I worked alongside lawyers who would complain if I had the wrong color pen – I can’t even begin to imagine them braving travel and accommodation conditions such as yours! These ‘travelogue’ blog posts are endlessly fascinating to me. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for all you do for the community at large.

    PS: That ammonite fossil is cool!

  3. Excellent post, John! You really do have a gift for presenting Northern communities in a way that makes me look at them through enlightened eyes. I enjoy your posts so much! I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for some reviews from Yellowknife – hoping you had more luck at finding a great meal than I have in the “big city”.

    1. Two pretty good meals and one not so hot. I wanted to go to that little Vietnamese place just up from the Chateau Nova (called Days Inn, now), but it was closed for summer holidays… ah, well… next time!

  4. John, I love reading your posts and getting out of my mind-seat to travel the northern world in your blog. Granted you make me damn hungry sometimes 😉 I do hope that one day you write your memoirs. You have such a generous nature when it comes to people, you make me very curious about this part of the world.

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