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Out for a walk at Crescent Beach near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Crescent Beach (Vancouver), British Columbia, Canada.

Where are they going next? Bellingham, Washington.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Life in Tuktoyaktuk

We tried again to get in touch with our "cousin of a friend" contact who lives here in Tuktoyaktuk. Still no answer on the phone, so I tried an email address that I had been given, and got a response right away. But it wasn't from Maureen, it was from her daughter Rebecca. She asked if we were parked out at the point, and I said yes.

She said to meet her around noon at the tent snack bar set up right here at the point!

Rebecca and her friend Tyson are taking advantage of the fact that many tourists are coming to Tuktoyktuk this year, so they opened a little snack bar at the point.

Rebecca's mother Maureen came here to teach school back in the 1980's. She married a local Inuvialuit man and ended up staying here.

Tuktoyaktuk's official population in 2017 was 1,026 people. 90% are aboriginal however only 20% of them can speak their native language.

Rebecca's father makes a living doing various things. He guides people who come here for big game hunting. Grizzly bears, muskox, caribou etc. He and his wife Maureen also do community tours, cultural tours, snowmobile tours in the winter, boat tours, and nature/wildlife viewing tours. Unfortunately for us, her father is currently at a whale camp on an island about 20 kms (12miles) from here helping scientists tag and track beluga whales. Her mother Maureen is visiting her sister in Yellowknife.

They are also subsistence hunters. They hunt and process one beluga whale for the family each year. They also eat muskox and caribou. They hunted 20 geese recently.

They also pick berries in the summer. People will travel south of Inuvik to the community of Tsiigehtchic which is well known for it's blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries, and red currents.

Me, eating a bowl of muskox chili!

While official unemployment in the region is high, at about 26%, wages for those working are also high. There are quite a few government jobs in the area, and there is some oil and gas work going on. And there are a lot of temporary jobs that are well paying. For example, there was a notice in the town office wanting a temporary construction foreman and six workers to build a couple of picnic shelters.

There is a distant early warning (DEW) line station here.

Back in the 1950's there 63 different DEW Line stations in the Arctic. They were the cold war "line in the snow" that was drawn to warn of Soviet aggression in the north. My father worked as a radio operator at one of them for a season in 1955. They have all been automated now, and are simply called the Northern Warning System.

One of the two grocery stores. 
This one also contains a hardware section, a pharmacy, and the post office.

That is a beluga whale! 
We can see them, but they are very far out.

Old boat.

This business didn't make it.

Newer row housing.

The Tuktoyaktuk Housing Corp supplies community housing. Northwest Territories statistics show approximately 26% of residents received some kind of government assistance last year.

Despite the treeless landscape, they have an unlimited supply of firewood!

Driftwood is naturally brought up the Mackenzie River and deposited by the ocean currents right into the bays here at Tuktoyaktuk. Everybody uses the driftwood as firewood.

Having a snooze.

The lapland longspur.

Fresh water truckfill station.

Every house has holding tanks for fresh and waste water, just like an RV. A truck will come by to fill your fresh water tank or empty your waste water tank.

The harbor.

Caribou skin drying.

Funny, but you wouldn't even know this was a grocery store!

It turns out that this grocery store is better stocked than the other one. I went to the owner (manager?) and told him that new visitors wouldn't even know this was a grocery store. He needs more signage! He agreed with me.

Rainbow last night in Tuktoyaktuk.

An arctic cold front blew in overnight. High temperature today is 5C (41F) with a bone chilling 50 km/h (30 mph) wind making it feel like it's below freezing.

Welcome to the Arctic! Chance of snow flurries today, with a low of -1C (30F) tonight. That is definitely not normal. The record low temperature for July in Tuktoyaktuk is -1.7C (29F).

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28 comments:

  1. So cool you saw a Beluga even so far off - I wouldn't have expected that. They are unused to having tourists there, hopefully they can optimize the short season and bring more $ to the region

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    1. Yeah, it was pretty neat to have been able to see one, we just wish we could have seen them a bit closer or at least seen more of them above the water than below the water.

      I am sure the community will do well with the tourists. They do have a lot of tours that come in by air though and have done for a number of years. I wish the weather was better for us, other than the day we arrived it hasn't been the best sightseeing kind of weather.

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  2. We don't have much sympathy for you in the cold - we've been baking for the past week here in Ottawa - currently the Humidex is 46C(115F).

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    1. Too bad we can't just switch the weather around for a bit or at least even it out more! ;-)

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  3. Cold fun day! We are currently working and camp hosting on the Island. I've been telling all kinds of people about your blog as they begin their planning for the trek next year. Amazing how many people miss all this great stuff because they're in such a hurry to hit Alaska.

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    1. It actually wasn't as cold as we thought, just windy and very overcast with spitting rain scattered throughout the day.

      Thank you for sending people to our blog, I hope that we can give them lots of helpful information for when they do their trip.

      Yep, and we see a lot of that with the people traveling north. So many of them miss the majority of things to do in the Yukon and many of them are so close to the highway that they wouldn't even have to drive far to get to them. We can certainly understand them not taking the Dempster Highway but just all the stuff that is in and around Whitehorse and Dawson City and then the things in between the two cities, such a shame to miss out on the history and the beauty in the area.

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  4. Thank you for your blogging efforts. I truly enjoy reading about your real world experiences with regular people where you visit.

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    1. Hi there Mike, good to hear from you, hope you are doing well. :-)

      We are glad that you are enjoying our posts and like always we really like to learn as much as possible about the places we visit and talk with the locals to find out more about the culture and their way of life.

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  5. Very cool place. Lots of interesting videos about life in Tuk.

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    1. It is a pretty neat place. You definitely have to be a hardy person to live here, the it seems that everyone who lives here loves it here. I am sure there are probably a few that want to get away but for most of them, they love this life.

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  6. How do they heat their houses? Perhaps with the driftwood? What about electricity? Can't imagine living there, but they sure are a hardy bunch.

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    1. They heat their houses with oil or burn the driftwood or even both. They all have electricity, they must have a generating plant for the hamlet's needs although we didn't see it and we would expect the electricity would be expensive but perhaps it gets subsidized by the government.

      Yes, we are sure they are a hardy bunch but then the majority were born here and their heritage and traditions have been passed down through the generations so this is the life that they know and most have never lived anywhere else and probably don't want too.

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  7. Love when you talk to the locals! Thanks for this - very informative and interesting.

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    1. We enjoy meeting the locals and we always have questions to ask them so that we can understand the people and their culture more, no matter where we travel. :-)

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  8. Thank you for the extensive information and photos - now I feel like I've been there and didn't have to make the long journey myself. There is a benefit to an armchair traveler in knowing people like you two !

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    1. Lol, glad you are enjoying the journey from the comfort of your own armchair. You definitely don't feel the bumpy road that way! ;-)

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  9. Clearly not the place for the weak of heart:) Proably not a lot of people moving here except for contract work? But it is a great place to see how life in the Artic is. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. No it certainly isn't, and no I don't think people are rushing up there to live but the people who do live here love it here! :-)

      Yes, there is definitely contract workers that come up here to work, not sure how many of them actually stay after the work is done, it certainly seems to have a special hold on some people, especially if you love to fish and hunt and enjoy the solitude that comes with being so far away from everything.

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  10. Tuk is one of my favourite spots, I have spent many great times there.

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    1. We have enjoyed our time here in Tuktoyaktuk but want to start heading back to Inuvik, however we are sort of stuck here in Tuk until the weather and the roads clear up and dry up.

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  11. Well, I doubt we'll ever get that far north in our Tergel, so I appreciated hearing of your travels to the Arctic. Despite inconveniences, it sounds like a grand trip!

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    1. Glad that we could bring Tuk to you! It is definitely quite the haul to get up here but it has been worth it. :-)

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  12. are you still in Tuk? one of your photos has my old family home in the background...lonesome for home! Thanks for you photos

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    1. No, unfortunately we aren't anymore. We left there two days ago. Glad we were able to at least snap a picture of your old home. I hope you are able to make it back to Tuk for visits every now and then.

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  13. Thank you so much for your very informative blog and pictures about life in Tuk!

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    1. You are welcome, glad that you enjoyed it. :-)

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  14. Hi Ruth and Kevin, enjoyed your comments and pictures, well done. I was there on June 5 and the ocean was frozen solid. They were still cruising around on skidoos and to my surprise, your pictures tell me that the ice was gone on July 16, no ice in sight. Unbelievable.

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    1. It is amazing at how fast things can change! We were talking to a guy on who told us that only about a week before we arrived in Tuktoyaktuk that there was still ice on the ocean, not all of it but some of it. They definitely weren't on skidoos when we got there, thank goodness! ;-)

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