in the land of the midnight sun (ok 24 hour) sets Inuvik, NWT, Canada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, Canada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuktoyaktuk . Tuk is 69 degrees N just barely above tree line which begins at 69 degrees N. The contrast between these two cities and the rest of Canada is interesting because it seems that Inuvik is still in what I would think the 60’s were like, Tuk I feel is probably more like the 40s. Just the vibe I got.
Inuvik most interesting quality is their sewer and water transport system called Utilidors. The fact that due to the permafrost you can’t bury your utilities they are ran above ground. https://www.inuvik.ca/en/living-here/Water-Sewer-and-Utilities.asp Speaking to the locals when they were kids they were also used as ways to get around town. Some must still do it today as on the town’s website you should not walk or play on them. The original utilidors also carried hot water to heat homes. Both Roy and I were intrigued by these tubes running all through the town. The town is in the process of upgrading the system. This Wikipedia article is full of interesting facts about the utilidors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_tunnel#Arctic_towns I think it gives a unique flavor to the city.
This picture shows the view of the town with a utilidor in the foreground. If you ever thought there was no Walmart north of the artic circle we found the twin sister to those stores. It is called Northmart and according to one local just like Walmart only more expensive and less quality (I cleaned this up). The store itself even had a food court. I guess when you have a captive audience. The town itself is still growing but like any struggling town you have your closed up businesses. One place everyone said to eat at was Alestine’s I think every northern town has to have a restaurant that uses a bus somehow for a restaurant. The food was great locally caught white fish and for desert a piece of tail (Eskimo Doughnut with hot fudge and honey) .
The first night was the Roost which was a Chinese/Subway/Pizza joint all rolled into one. I see a trend happening put everything you need under one roof. Another example one of the gift stores doubles as the feed store. There does seem to be a disconnect with technology some places still have dial up internet. It seems to be untouched by Facebook, Twitter, and people obsessed by their cell phones. (unless you count the tourists). This is why Inuvik in my opinion is stuck in the 60s. I did take a few pictures of the marina and where you used to dip your toes in the water and get your certificate.
The sign in this picture states do not leave boats unattended at the docks. Technically it’s not at the docks.
I do have to say Inuvik has lost some of the end of the road as far as you can go appeal because of the completion of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH). This drive had so many vast views and you felt like you could see forever. When we got to Tuk it was a strange feeling for me as I was truly at the end of land, you walk out to the edge of land and there is nothing but water in front of you. I’ve been to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean but I can’t put words on how this was different but it was. The Artic Ocean was at the top of the world maybe that was it. I did not put my feet in the water just my fingers. I have to say it was a tad chilly but warmer then I expected. I had my winter hat on and just a sweat shirt, not too bad though. The sense of accomplishment kept me warm. (ok my story).
The town itself was quieter then I thought it would be no cruise ship land tours yet.
We ate a restaurant called ‘End of the Road’ I think it was a converted industrial building, housed rooms upstairs, a small store, and a lunch room style restaurant. Roy and I just had a burger. We did not eat at Gramma’s Kitchen though. I did stop at the Fur Place it was interesting because when you think of gift shop you think of a store front. This was her house, it was actually her kitchen area. There were shelves with local artists works available for sale. She was working on a pair of mukluks, such intricate detail work. I had noticed the amount of felt picture stories that are up for sale. She explained to me that is how they tell a story, be it the northern lights to hunting polar bears. Tuk felt untouched but I wonder how long it can stay un commercialized. I bought a hand made leather ornament in the shape of a pingo. It was enjoyable being able to talk to her about her culture and how she wants to share and pass down the traditions. I then stopped at the visitor center in Tuk. I was greeted by three friendly enthusiastic young adults. I asked how they felt about all the tourists coming up this year. They answered it gives them the ability to share their culture with the outside world. It was well worth the trip to get here. I thought you would like to see the cemetery, the reconstructed sod house, and a landscape.
I have to say these two towns have become dear to my heart.
One thought on “Way UP North”
There is a unique feeling when you have actually driven to the very end of a road and can go no further. Tuk is that place … the very end of the Mackenzie Delta, on a point of land trapped in time at the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Well worth going there and seeing it … once … !!
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