DSC_0398 (685x1024)1) visiting the home, and Fort MacPherson Tent Company tent, of our Tuktoyaktuk guide

While it takes a lot of planning and time to get oneself to the northern edge of Canada – way up on the Beaufort Sea – it’s well worth the effort. Tuktoyaktuk was exactly what I imagined it would be and yet totally, unexpectedly different as well. The physicality of the town mirrored my mind’s eye: flat as flat can be, windswept and hunkered down on the edge of a limitless watery vista; cruel, cold and exposed.  Yet, in other by far more important ways, the town was so different: civilized (which probably reeks of a whiteman bias of aboriginal communities), proudly Inuvialuit yet boldly Canadian complete with a lotto outlet and Canadian Trail marker. And while there was no Tim Hortons and no Canadian Tire I felt at home in Tuk which perhaps speaks to the power of this place we call Canada – our home and native land.

Our trip to Tuk started in Inuvik where we hired a tour company to fly us north. We borded our wee North Wright Airways Cesena and winged our way ever north,  in the trusty hands of our Quebec-born pilot, over the endless, endless, endless tundra that comprises the Mackenzie River Delta. You really do not have any idea just how vast that space is until you’ve seen it from the air. It is, in a word, humbling. And humbling to think folks live permanently up there at the, near, top of the world.

On the way up we flew over the hamlet of Reindeer Station, saw our first pingo, ice-cored hills that rise up out of the tundra like warts, and passed over a couple of NORAD’s North Warning System installations (or what we used to call back in the cold war days, the DEW line, for Distant Early Warning).

DSC_0270 (2) (1024x478)2) we saw these gorgeous white huskies at Arctic Chalet

DSC_0274 (2) (1024x685)3) here’s where we’re going … this massive map of the north graces the floor inside Inuvik Airport

DSC_0273 (2) (1024x685)4) though there was not a lot of business inside

DSC_0275 (2) (1024x685)5) the plane! the plane! (anyone get that reference?) … our plane on the tarmack

DSC_0284 (2) (1024x685)6) up we go flying over Inuvik on the way north

DSC_0288 (1024x685)7) down below in Inuvik we can see our hotel! … the blue/green building in the background is the Inuvik Recreation/Community Centre

DSC_0304 (2) (1024x685)8) there’s Reindeer Station

DSC_0320 (1024x685)9) and one of the North Warning System installations … imagine living here in the dead of winter!

DSC_0340 (1024x685)10) Papa enjoys the views

DSC_0339 (1024x685)11) which are just AWESOME!

DSC_0346 (1024x685)12) WOW! so endless

DSC_0343 (1024x685)13) our first pingo!

DSC_0357 (1024x685)14) our second pingo!

DSC_0358 (1024x685)15) our third, big, pingo! This one is just outside Tuk

DSC_0362 (1024x685)16) there is the town!

DSC_0372 (1024x685)17) heading in to land

DSC_0376 (1024x685)18) isn’t it pretty

DSC_0381 (1024x685)19) we made it! Papa at the airport

DSC_0384 (1024x685)20) Papa gets his welcome to Tuk picture

DSC_0394 (1024x685)21) at the home of our guide we get a lesson on the differing types of furs and how they hunt them

DSC_0397 (1024x685)22) here is the top of the house

DSC_0399 (1024x685)23) here’s that pingo again taken from the aiport

DSC_0401 (1024x685)24) on the shore of the Beaufort we go see the smoke house

DSC_0404 (1024x685)25) arctic char getting smoked; I love arctic char

DSC_0428 (1024x685)26) ta-da! the Beaufort Sea

DSC_0411 (1024x685)27) G heads in for a dip … he’s now been to all three of Canada’s oceans

DSC_0419 (1024x685)28) Papa’s a toe-dipper

DSC_0431 (1024x685)29) beautiful isn’t it with the wildflowers

DSC_0440 (1024x685)30) downtown Tuk

DSC_0448 (1024x685)31) the Northern store which serves as the depot for everything – groceries, clothes, lottery outlet, housewares – prices were high yes but not as outrageous as I was expecting

DSC_0449 (1024x685)32) … and a Canada Post

DSC_0450 (1024x685)33) so scenic

DSC_0459 (1024x685)34) that ship you see brought up the first missionaries to the town

DSCF1793 (1024x768)35) we visit the Ice House which served as the fridge for the community

DSCF1785 (1024x768)36) me down inside the permafrost … it was very, very cold and solid ice where the locales carved out alcoves for each family to store their supplies of food

DSCF1790 (2) (1024x768)37) the ice crystals inside the Ice House were so neat

DSC_0482 (1024x685)38) here you can see the year-round road being constructed by the federal government … in two years time Tuk will be connected to Inuvik year-round

DSC_0484 (1024x685)39) they have so far managed to build 16 kms south from Tuk and about half that northward out of Inuvik

DSC_0493 (1024x685)40) like the Dempster Highway this road is also constructed on a burm atop the permafrost

DSC_0501 (1024x685)41) there is one of the construction crews ‘homes’ during the season

DSC_0504 (1024x685)42) this Cesena followed us back south to Inuvik

IMG_5211 (1024x685)43) so blessed to have experienced this with Papa!

IMG_5208 (1024x765)44) back in Inuvik the next morning, I take the car to the local car wash! to clean it off for the trip back south to Dawson City

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