November 11, 1998

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, like Veteran's Day in the U.S.  I have noticed in every shop there has been a small box for coins and then a jar with red simulated poppies in it.  The coins go to the Canadian Legion for their work.   The poppy is the symbol of remembrance of those that served in the various wars and to fight for our freedoms that we enjoy today.  To all those veterans, I say thank you!     This morning was wild.  The winds are howling, the snow is blowing fiercely and it feels like sandpaper.  I heard someone say it was a 90km/hr wind!  You can hardly stand in this wind.  I worked on my webpages for a while. The power kept going on and off, like the place was haunted!  I eventually fumbled around and got dressed and headed out.  I went over to a place called River Flats.  It was the Inuit part of town, across the railway tracks, near the port.  Today, not only are there Inuit, but also folks that stay only in the summer, or those that are not necessarily able to afford the costs on the other side.  However, this area is a mixture of people.  I saw a man working with his dog team, a polar bear trap, and all kinds of sleds for winter transportation in the area.  The roads are incredibly icy!  From there, I headed over to the Transient Centre.  This centre is for the Inuit especially from the Northwest Territories.  The Inuit people are brought here for dental care, special health care services, prenatal care and more.  They are housed in this facility until it is time for them to return back to their homes.  I met two Inuit ladies.  They were staying at this facility, but were leaving later today to go to Winnipeg for specialized x-rays that are not able to be carried out here in Churchill.  These two were originally flown by Keewatin Air from the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay.  The population of the islands is 700.  One of the ladies, Annie, made baskets.  It was woven out of the local grasses and parka strings, with a carving on the top.  She brought this for me to see.  It was very well made, and it was quite large.  She was asking for $500 for it, and she hoped to get it in Winnipeg.  The other lady, Nancy Qittusuk, had brought some of her brothers carvings with her to sell to anyone who might be interested.  She unpacked them all for me.  She didn't do this for me to buy, but just to show.  (However, I did wind up buying a piece!)  Her prices of these were incredible.  Compared to the same things that I have seen in the shops around town, these carvings were very inexpensive!  She comes from the settlement on the Belcher Islands called Sanikilauq.  And they both wanted me to know that they were indeed Inuit!  They were have conversation in their native language and also the people at the centre gave me a newspaper all in the syllabry.  I guess last night, one of the residents had brought in fresh walrus meat for them to eat.  The centre serves caribou and char.  If the guests need anything else, they must bring it in.  It was a great experience and these ladies were very kind.  From there, over to Gypsy's for breakfast of two enormous rolls and a cup of tea.  I think I have eaten more here in Churchill, than I have ever before!!  Then I headed up to the cemetery to see what it was like.  It was situated right on the top of a hill and the icy winds were raging right through the place.  Needless to say, I did not stay long.  Many of the dates on the crosses and stones that I saw were from the early 1900's, but there were older and more recent ones, too.  I drove past the Boreal Research Gardens, then I tried to go down Goose Creek Road.  It had two-three inches of ice on it!!  I went a ways, and then the truck just started sliding from one side of the road to other.  I very very slowly inched my way backwards towards the main road.  It probably took me three quarters of an hour to go a fourth mile!!  I decided to just stay on the main road.  I wanted to go down Goose Creek to see the house that had been attacked by a polar bear a couple of nights back.  I guess I can contain my curiosity!!  I drove to the dump to have a look around.  The National Geographic programme "Polar Bear Alert" featured the dump as the hotspot  to see bears.  Now, knowing that the cycle of bears coming to the town dump has tried to be broken, by burning off the food items, removing the plastic bags, I just wanted to have a look.  The winds were howling through all the things. I saw smashed cars, old washers and dryers, and countless other objects, that quite honestly looked very interesting!!  There were ravens flying in and out of all the things.  The ravens, according to the locals, follow the northern civilizations around everywhere they leave scraps!  I headed out to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre just to stop in.  I had intended to continue on to an area called Twin Lakes, but the weather conditions were so awful, that I didn't think that would be wise.  I got to the centre, and was offered a cup of hot chocolate.  I talked with a few of the folks there and also ran into Walter Daudrich, the owner of the Lazy Bear Cafe.  We hadn't seen each other yet, and he had heard I was in town.  (His wife Dawn is the cook at Lazy Bear). We had a nice chat.  He not only owns the cafe, but also drives for Great White Bear tundra tours.  I also learned that GWB uses helicopter trips as well.  Similar to the one I took with Hudson Bay, they use another company called Taiga Helicopters.  I have seen them flying in and out of town all week.  Sometimes they just land right next to the place they need to stop at (like an eatery)!  The folks at the CNSC agreed and advised me not to travel past that point.  I headed back out, slowly traveling the road back to Churchill.  A truck coming the opposite direction waved and slowed me (even more than what I was doing). The man in the truck told me there was a white fox (the arctic fox) right along the road!  It also turns out that this is the man I have hired my truck from!!  I stopped by the "twin golf balls" which is an old radar outpost.  There wasn't any view of the bay as the clouds were low and the snow was really blowing.  I continued on, and suddenly a small clear spot.  The Hudson Bay was freezing.  You could see the slush in the waves.  And, the waves moved slowly.  I think it won't be too long now, and the bears will be out of the area and on to the ice!   I attempted to get out of the truck, opened the door and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the ground next to it!  the wind rushed in with such a force just as I was to step out and it grabbed me and pulled me down.  I was really worried about all of my notes and camera equipment going next, but I managed to get back in and rescue us all!!  Later, I talked with Mrs. Patti Stouffer, an elementary school aide/teacher.  It was her science club that I was going to speak at today (but they didn't meet as it is a holiday).  She is doing an animal recycling project.  She is using recycled materials for the animal cages and their bedding.  Any shredded paper she has left in the spring, her students use it as compost.  Well, this day has gone by incredibly fast.  The temperature is now -15 without windchill! For my last dinner here, Sarah Burch (the gal staying at Don's--who also happens to be working at the Lazy Bear Cafe) and I went to dinner at the Lazy Bear.  I have been waiting the whole time to have caribou, and so I did.  Very nice. Outside the window there was a polar bear moving around and was chased off by the Polar Bear Patrol of Churchill.  After dinner, back to work on these pages. There seems to be some technical difficulties in trying to send the pages.  I am not sure if it is the storm here, or something back home.  Eventually, though, these will get posted, but it might be after I get back home!