Syllabic Translator

i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Diary of an Arctic Journey by Irene Baird

Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island. Here – 1300 miles north of Montreal – we’re virtually in the city – in an Arctic sense. But not for long.

Where we shall be for the next ten days is where Eskimos are numbered in hundreds and others in dozens. Where ice reports will seem far more important than what’s going on in Cyprus.

This is Nunassiaq – the land the Eskimos call “good”. Canada north of the trees. The land and water that put us among the world’s Arctic powers. Power is a thing you feel all through Nunassiaq, the power of distance, of weather, of silence. “A land where all is space and nothing time; where today was tomorrow and tomorrow will be yesterday.”

It’s a bright blue August day; good for flying. Take it while it’s here. A soft cool wind, the air full of light, the season that gives a feeling of joy. The airfield looks wide, bare, well-scrubbed. A brand new Otter is in the hangar looking far too spruce, like a demonstrator. As though it is waiting for someone to fly it round the block. We’re travelling in a Wheeler Airlines Canso (CF-DIL) that may have been built around 1938, but we wouldn’t trade.

We shall be dropping off passengers, mail and supplies at ten eastern Arctic settlements, and we shall be lucky if we make as many. At all of them, regional administrator Frank Fingland, and other Northern Affairs staff, will be hearing from men on the spot about how their programs are coming and what should be done to solve local problems. And they will be hearing from Fingland about what can be done to solve them – often two quite different things.

Regional administrators live dangerously. At one end they are on call from the High Command in Ottawa, and at the extreme other end they receive the loud distress cries of local administrators who were promised fifteen Eskimo houses by sealift and discover the shipment has been incorrectly processed as five.

Northern airlines fly some of the least sleek looking aircraft anywhere – the kind not likely to turn up in colour spreads in, say, the New Yorker. About all they are good for is to be entrusted with the lives of their passengers, few of whom they ever fail. They fly some of the least sleek-looking passengers, too.

Frank Burney, our pilot, comes from England; co-pilot Ron Paquette, engineer Marcel Rainville and flight engineer Art Laham are from Montreal. Laham’s ancestry is Lebanese. Where could we have found a better crew?

What strikes you everywhere in the north is the variety of blood stirred by whatever it is Le Grand Nord has. On this trip we shall hear English spoken with the accents of Holland, Britain, Germany, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland. And we shall hear the speech of Canada in three languages. Yet we are a mere handful flying a few thousand miles.

There seem to be lots of kids aboard. More children now wherever you go in the Arctic. Bigger Eskimo families. More children from southern Canada going to school with them. It could be that this simple fact can do more than any other to show the Eskimo community that all white people are not rich transients, childish in their moods and wants, and generally incomprehensible.

Ray and Doreen Phillips, with three small girls and a boy, are headed for Pangnirtung after a holiday in Britain, glad to be going north again. Eleven-year-old Wolfgang is travelling with his mother, Frau Klaus Hubmann, to Arctic Bay, where Mr. Hubmann is the lone Northern Affairs man until the teacher arrives in September. Trim little Elizabeth Oulujah, in white sweater and pink slacks, is returning the Clyde River as a teacher’s aide. Shock-haired Eskimo teen-ager Ibille, back from hospital, and a young Eskimo boy who seems to know both, are headed for Clyde River, too.

From Frobe, with Fingland, are Northern Affairs engineers Al Cronk, the Grand Mananman, and John Wickware. Mr. Wickware is a former Hudson’s Bay post manager, and thus already at home in the Arctic. He came here recently from Saskatoon to work for the Cooperative Union of Canada as a “Cooperatives Everywhere” field man. Maurice Saulnier, the Acadian, and Norm Hefler of Toronto are welfare workers, one from the office of the Arctic Administrator in Ottawa, the others from the Welfare Division. Mike Holuthuysen, born in Amsterdam, is from Branch Engineering.

Some of us – recently working in 93 degrees heat in Ottawa – were a bit casual about bringing along parkas. But not, fortunately, to the point of leaving them home. Forget everything else if you have to.

Around midday the Canso blasts off for Pangnirtung. This racket – exploding inside the aircraft and making it shudder – is somehow very soothing. It seems the ultimate in noise.

The flight to Pang should be made only by slow aircraft. No jet could show its passengers what the Canso showed us. A dazzling kingdom this, of peaks and mesa, of open water and intricately-wrought patterns of ice. Peaks rising out of the ice pans with the great horned spines of dinosaurs. Did the Architect that created all this also design the ant family?

Pang is one of the prettiest Arctic communities, and on this blue summer day, as we fly down the fiord, the rocks and shoreline are bright with Eskimo parkas. Everyone in town is out to watch the plane come in. We land in a thunder of flying spray. The sun gives a joyful feeling. It is colder here.

But we are not travelling to look at scenery – landscape is a bonus – and as we cute ashore in freight canoes with dashes of icy spray tasting of salt, you think how winter must be here once the Eastern Arctic Patrol, and the last of the summer flights, have come and gone.

You see the great broken floes floating serenely towards Cumberland Sound and you think of the sealing-in of the end of summer. Of that word, most difficult it seems for southern Canadians to grasp in its Arctic meaning – isolation. The invisible force that creates tensions and pressures that become unbearable. Petty occasions that reveal human breaking points.

The roofs of the RCMP, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and St. Luke’s Anglican Church and hospital, are sited high on the best ground. Old residents who had a choice. It is my impression – subject to correction – that the site engineers who worked for Northern Affairs must have done their planning by remote control.

In my bag somewhere is a copy of Fingland’s last quarterly report. I fish it out in search of a more objective view and in the section headed “Engineering: Pangnirtung”, read, “Mr. W. Morrison installed sidewalks for Northern Affairs buildings using scrap lumber, and piped water into welfare houses. He also reports that the power house is still sinking into the mud.”

Supported by this professional opinion I feel better, but about the future of our local holdings I feel worse. That beautiful green grass with the wild flowers is muskeg. Northern Affairs appears to have been sited on a ridge of blue ice.

Saulnier, Hefler and I visit the Eskimo houses that have had the water piped in, find they were shipped to Pang in May, and are equipped with a good stove, sink, water tank, tiny bathroom, storage cupboard and outside porch. Painted cheerful colours, they stand along the curve of the rocks beside the summer tents, and have still to be tested by winter. Geela Kilabuck, an attractive teen-ager who works for Northern Affairs, is our interpreter, who will inquire at which tents and houses visitors are welcome. What most Eskimo housewives are engaged in at this season is scraping fat from the fine seal pelts – so plentiful wherever we go on this trip – and stretching them on racks in the sun to dry.

Some 600 Eskimos live in, and around, Pang, and most are out hunting at the camps. Since the seal means to the Innuit money, food, clothing and a dozen household uses, the government is doing more for its protection than merely hoping Netsuk will never go away.

Char is plentiful, too, and be assured that you have never eaten Arctic char until you have eaten it at the Wayne Morrisons? Mr. Morrison is the northern administrator at Pang, a cheerful young Englishman with the relaxed air of know-how that must somehow be achieved if administrators are to be effective in situations where the first psychological requirement is to be able to roll with the punches. Perhaps he can’t always do this. But he gives that impression today.

Overnight the population rises by one. Her face is like a tiny carved hazel nut in its nest of white blankets at the spotless hospital. Where do she and her classmates go in 1984? One direction closed to them is back into the Stone Age.

We take off at midday after a quick hail and farewell to a CBC party coming ashore to spend a couple of hours. I wish I could stay longer at this lovely place, where the altar at the church has sealskin hassocks.

Another incredible flight, over some of the highest mountains on Baffin Island. Landscapes tall, austere, powerfully attractive. Moments when the peaks loom so close you think the scenery is going to walk right in through the window. When you swear you could count the buttons on the coat of a man standing below.  

We had hoped to make a brief stop at Padloping. But Burney circles the cluster of roofs lying along the rocks and doesn’t like the look of the ice. Even if we could land we could be locked in. So on to Broughton Island and an airstrip. This lacks the commotion of water landing. No speeding canoe with spray flying, no Eskimos at bow and stern. No style. One soon develops a regional superiority-complex about the north.

I was at Broughton two years ago and am amazed at the progress since. Then, Northern Affairs was no more than a new Eskimo school with two attractive young teachers, John and Alice Hughes, the “Bay”, and the Eskimos living along the rocks. Some families are living in houses now, and when the seal-lift gets here it is supposed to be bringing enough houses to give every Eskimo family who wants one something a bit warmer than a tent.

The rising Eskimo birth-rate is making the problem of getting the Innuit into houses always more acute. A family of three or four can live in the present low-cost house (for which Eskimo wage-earners are paying), but as the family grows so does the pressure for extra space.

Mike Holthuysen as an engineer measures Arctic development by the rising power load required by even the smallest communities. My measuring device is the number of small faces that watch you out of the windows of how many too-small houses.

Joalamee at Grise Fiord has solved the problem by buying two one-room houses and making them into a single house, comfortably large. But everybody is not Joalamee – an excellent hunter, and an RCMP Special until they closed down the detachment at Alexandra Fiord.

Olaf Christiansen, the Northern Affairs maintenance mechanic at Broughton, gets most of the credit for the way the building program has gone ahead. He is short, blond and filled with Danish energy.

Des Hoban will be coming here as area administrator, and covering the DEW line too. The Hobans will need this good house that Frau Hubmann, Wolfgang, and I are staying in, for besides being the busiest sector the Line, this one has the worst weather; winds can blow more than 100 knots. The Hobans, whom I met at Frobe, and whose background is British Guinea, give the impression that wherever you set them down they will do well.

It is now two o’clock in the morning as I watch the Eskimo children chasing one another like lizards up and down the school Jungle Jim. In the bay a family of adults and children are poking peacefully around after char. They do not move like seal-hunters, nor do they have the right kind of boat. The seal hunters are a purposeful lot.

The Eskimos are still moving quietly among the tents; the sun is a deep pink gas on the ice floes. This is Nunassiaq, the good land. A good land for the hunter; a good land. A good land for the hunter; a good land even when life is hard. And it can be merciless.

Not far from here a few years ago four Eskimo hunters from Kivitoo, Joanassee, Nayapuk, Peterlossie and Poisey, were trapped on the ice, the first word of the tragedy an exhausted dog trailing broken traces.

It is hard to sleep in the continuous light; yesterday, today and tomorrow merge. It is Sunday now and we have an early start. With every day’s flying the look of the land changes.

At midday we make Clyde River and pass into a strange world. The country around here has a strong, wild look. The Department of Transport has an upper air station at Clyde, the “Bay’s” red roofs are down by the shore, and there is a post office. The RCMP detachment works out of Cape Christian. I drop in at the post office and find a shining brass clock that says 4:25 G.M.T. This is confusing, when in fact everyone knows it is midday. Greenwich in this setting gives me the same sense of being in another country, as I have [been] listening to European voices in the middle of the Arctic, and remembering that at Grise Fiord we are closer to Europe than to the capital of Canada. Our national heritage includes some outlandish geography. Le Grand Nord seems to belong to the world. Coming into Clyde I think that the Arctic – even in these days of flight – is still so remote from day-to-day Canadian experience, so alien to group-think, so filled with mysteries for science to discover, that I wonder whether Canadians, though they are interested in the north and often emotional about it, do not also fear it.

Are we afraid of what the north is trying to say?

We’re only slated to remain here a few hours, but long enough for Fingland, Dennis Stossel, the OIC at the station, Cronk, Holthuysen and me to take a brisk canoe trip down Patricia Bay to look at a possible new site for a community that certainly needs it. Here once more are the problems of muskeg and the melt, streams running between the houses, gravel pads that seem unfairly pitted against a hopeless task. Down the bay prospects are better. We slosh ashore, take a rocky climb and from the top of the rise see the distant gash on the horizon that is Cape Christian.

It has a spell – this wide plain, the mixture of rock and wild flowers, the grey, reticent sky. The absolute aloneness. They say the Eskimos find plenty of caribou here. They are not likely to be despoiled by poachers. On the way back we spot a seal.

From now on we can count with no certainty on weather and must fly when and where we can. An hour out of Clyde Burney gets word that Arctic Bay is socked in, and swings the Canso back where we came. DOT is to get more of us than they bargained for. Stossel and the Eskimos bring us ashore a second time and we are dispersed wherever hospitality can be found. Frau Hubmann, John Wickware, Wolfgang, and I are billeted at the “Bay”, where Doug James is a wonderfully thoughtful host. The Dutch cook at the station comes up with the world’s best wieners and baked beans.

Next day the sky looks as though it will never open again. The first snow of winter begins to drip out of the overcast.

Whatever was not done in the way of work yesterday Fingland and his team set out to do today. Burney does not like the look of the weather and decides to fly the Canso over the Cape Christian for more protected anchorage. It kicks up the bay in a fury of spray and seems to be going out of our lives forever.

The Eskimos are busy hunting seals; their families remain mostly indoors. They have moved from the camp down the bay and are living in some of the Northern Affairs houses. But somehow it does not seem a suitable moment for paying calls.

Doug James is baking bread. My brain seems to be falling asleep. Why have I never learned to toss up a layer cake? Or make a pie? How can I have remained so uneducated? I suggest that some of us might go out seal-hunting with the Eskimos, but no takers. I do not feel my Eskimo is good enough to negotiate independently.

Frau Hubmann and I are invited to visit the station to watch a balloon being filled, and are reminded by the maps and charts on the walls that weather is international. It is somehow consoling to recall how many other people have to put up with the weather.

Next morning three inches of snow have fallen and a faint shred of blue is struggling through the overcast. Is this Tuesday? If so, which Tuesday? If it is not Tuesday, what day is it?

Outdoors along the beach where the tide is low in the absolutely sleeping settlement, I am oppressed by the power of solitude. The absolute lack of change-of-pace, of alternatives. Isolation. For some temperaments this must be released from the rat-race and the tyranny of telephones; the perfect escape from noise. But for others how easy to think yourself forgotten to brood. To be forgotten by those who make decisions two thousand miles away, the faceless who take decisions, shuffle paper and recommend promotions.

I do not believe Doug James thinks like this; I believe he is here by choice, and Stossel is expecting to go on leave. The Dutchman is here to save money for what he really wants to do. Everyone in the north knows why they are here though not everyone remains what they started out to be. Isolation is a matter of choice, but who knows what it will do with them until they have lived with it?

After lunch the mood changes for a miracle occurs. The Canso reappears circling like an albatross, like an angel. At 3:10 we wave goodbye to people who have been kind to us. I picture Elizabeth Oulujah helping the DNA teacher in that small school with the bright blue panels, teaching the adventures of Bobby and Betty in suburban Toronto to children who help hitch the dogs and carve up seal. Such children must find the lives of Kabloona children strangely uneventful.

We are flying back into the world of ice. Two hours out of Clyde the sound of the engine changes, for we are approaching Pond Inlet. The roofs are clustered on the shore and the C.D. Howe is in. We look forward to a cheerful evening. Pond is one of the most interesting communities in the Arctic, and Fingland and his staff have work to do here. But suddenly all is changed. The bay is filled with ice; there is no place to land. Okay for the Howe; she was built to slice a path through ice. But one good collision with the ice pans would finish us, and it’s on to Arctic Bay. For Wolfgang and Mrs. Hubmann this will be home.

Arctic Bay, a shaley beach set against a fortress of mountains, looks trim and neat. Mr. Hubmann and the Eskimos are down to meet us. Hubmann and the Eskimos are down to meet us. Hubmann and the Eskimos are down to meet us. Hubmann has a lot to talk to Fingland about, especially stores. We troop off to look over the school and power house.

We are due to take off tomorrow but next morning the ice has moved in; great slabs lie sluggishly along the beach. I re-visit the school, hoping to find a typewriter. Everything else that school has. Wolfgang explores; he is a pleasure to watch having taken to this Arctic adventure from the start. Full of energy and curiosity, he will soon be speaking Eskimo.

One sees everything, talks to everybody, and still plenty of the day is left, so I climb the mountain behind the bay. A rough path cuts upwards between two mesas, and the marks of komatik runners scar the turf. This must be a stiff pull for the dogs.

Up over the brow and seven miles across the plain lie the Eskimo camps. Somewhere around there Texas Gulf Sulphur has a small camp, too. Below, the red roofs keep shrinking until they drop out of sight. The ice-locked bay and the gray-brown mountains flow off into the long distance. One needs geology to read this land, but to explore it, only the urge.

The air is colder on the plain and the blue sky seems low. Wild flowers grow among rocks that sparkle with quartz. Perched high and weirdly, erratics make this look like a place where the spirits play kick-ball. On the way down an Eskimo passes, making me wish I had words instead of merely a smile to exchange. I shall never lose the feeling of what it was like up there.

Next day for a few hours the bay is partly clear and we get out fast before the wind changes and drifts the ice inshore. We are heading for Grise Fiord in the Arctic Islands, north of mainland Canada. The Flight from Arctic Bay to Grise must be flown on a clear day to be believed. It is Wagnerian. Giants’ country. Only to be flown by slow aircraft, preferably one with a plastic bubble. On Devon Island the ice-cap gleams dazzling white, sculptured by wind, water and erosion.

We make Grise at 7:30. The sun is lighting the weird shapes of the icebergs near the beach – like pingoes, giant convoluted mushrooms, sea beasts. The fiord is too deep for the Canso’s anchor, the canoe trip ashore is cold and long. We should be out of here and on to Resolute in an hour. We have brought the first fine day in three weeks, and could get trapped if the weather changes. If we must be trapped anywhere, Grise would be my choice. Remote and strange, it is the unbelievable land, set against the shadow of rocks with a clear winter road to Greenland. The Eskimos on the beach are a splash of colour. Burney and the crew cannot leave the aircraft. Everyone is here to see who comes ashore.

Grise Fiord is the most northerly RCMP detachment, it has Canada’s most northerly school, and the Grise Fiord Eskimo Trading Company need fear no competition as the farthest north group of Canadian businessmen. This is a hunting economy; seals and whales are abundant.

The Hollis Shaws welcome us warmly and he at once takes off Fingland and his troupe to make the tour. Mrs. Shaw, like other Northern Affairs wives, is somehow equipped to produce delicious food for a dozen tired, cold visitors who have not been expected. She is young, relaxed, gay and bilingual.

Wives in the north are enormously important to their husband’s effectiveness, and in some ways have the more difficult role for the men have always some reason to be busy, and the most interesting jobs to do. It is strange in this far off place to find a home almost as you would find it in southern Canada, a school almost as you would see it on your own street attended by your own children. But only those familiar with building and maintenance in the high Arctic know what it took to get such things done here, to replace igloos and tents with houses. It is something of an achievement to have brought to the foot of the mountain a place to live and work, a place to teach children.

Since Grise is north of traditional Eskimo country those who came here to do so as immigrants and remain “the people” of wherever it is they have come from. Thus the Innuit from Pond Inlet are still “the Pond Inlet People'' and the Port Harrison families look upon themselves in the same way. Their identity in this generation remains distinct, but out of it is coming a kind of lingua franca, or Grise Fiord dialect. They have one very human community problem that transcends differences of ancestry – not enough young men to marry the many daughters, or, perhaps, to interest them.

An urgent message now comes from Burney – we must be out here within fifteen minutes or not make Resolute that night. He has manoeuvred the aircraft nearer the beach, and already weather is moving towards us in a thick grey swathe clouding the sun. It comes down in moments. Only the ice-cap on Devon Island still blazes far-off in the midnight sunshine. Arctic weather on the move has an almost-tangible air of purpose.  

When we are aboard some trick of light or mist throws the second canoe off course, and we rock in the icy darkness wondering what has happened. Did it ever leave the shore? Or are Fingland and Shaw still talking on the beach? Time passes and our deadline too. Burney must find shelter from the ice.

A weird 3-hour chase begins, the aircraft plunging through the water looking for anchorage. It is cold; the heat only works when the plane is airborne; visibility is almost zero. We churn on through the dark water; drips and minor waterfalls pour in, not serious. We are not exactly doing anything except thinking that this is not the moment for an iceberg to loom up and cop us one.

Then something out of a dream sequence of Oxford and Cambridge boat race appears on the port side. The figures in it look familiar. For around three hours, give or take, the canoe has been pursuing the Canso, hearing it through the mist, never quite catching up.

There is only one place to go – one we are growing familiar with by now – back where we started. In a complicated manoeuvre the Canso is brought to shore, swung about, hitched on to a DC-5, and beached.

I can no longer remember the division between night and day or if there is one. The Shaws make more coffee that tastes hot and wonderful, and around 4:30 a.m. everyone goes off to catch some sleep. By then the sun is shining and it looks like a good day to fly. For anyone curious about such things I can assure them that sleeping three nights in a row in your clothes is a perfectly comfortable thing to do.

Ice keeps us from landing at Igloolik: it is thicker here than at Arctic Bay, a disappointment. At Hall Beach there is a strip and all the amenities, but the surrounding country has the desolate water-logged look of the Mackenzie Delta in summer – a landscape wildly torn into bays, lakes, and puddles. A return to “civilization” that jars.

John and Alice Hughes have no warning that we are coming to Cape Dorset; though Hall Beach has everything there is just no way of their getting a message. They have been there only three weeks. I last saw them two years ago when he was teaching at Broughton Island. It is good to see them again, and the new baby who eyes us so sweetly. I think the recording “Songs of the Welsh Mines,” must belong to the Lewises, who are away.

John Hughes is from Sheffield, England, and Alice, I think, from Winnipeg. Scotland and Wales are also at Cape Dorset, and for all I know Ireland, for the Irish like the Scotch turn up everywhere.

What can one write about cape Dorset that has not already been written? It has a name and fame that go beyond Canada. It has made its mark by the quality of its artists and because of the (to some people) picturesque idea of Eskimos being associated in a serious way with graphic art.

All this has brought important money into a community that six years ago the outside world had hardly heard of. Yet Dorset is still as Eskimo as its rocks are Arctic. You have only to leave the area of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, the Hughes’ house, the hospital, and school, the “bay” and Terry Ryan’s charming and elegant dwelling built for him by the Co-op for which he works, and walk to service at St. Luke’s Anglican Church on a Sunday morning to sense that underneath the new outside things Cape Dorset is first, last, and deeply Eskimo.

An exciting place caught very much between two worlds. Far richer than most Eskimo communities can ever hope to be, unless oil gushes out of their rocks. Yet not sophisticated in the use of money, and vulnerable to a series of confusions. For it is extremely difficult even for many Kabloona who have had money since their ancestors invented it, to manage it well, especially when it is much more than they ever expected to earn.

At church I hope to see Mary Pitsoelak, whose work I admire, but she is at camp. Lukta is in the front row on the men’s side and I wish I had had enough Eskimo to tell him that I own one of his prints, and ask him what he is producing this year. The service opens with a prolonged blast of coughing. The Reverend Gardner, who comes from Winnipeg, preaches on the story of Blind Bartimeous. A long sermon, listened to gravely and attentively by the men. On the opposite side the women cope with children lively as otters. I leave quietly before the end; Fingland wants to get back to Frobe while we still have weather.

The sun has clouded over as we rise off the bay, and Cape Dorset, favourite of art dealers many thousands of miles away, looks as lonely a spot as any in Canada, waiting for winter. Only the stone Inukshuks’ wry sophistication reminds you that this Arctic village is more than it appears, and the Innuit artists at whatever they put their hands to.

By now we have become a team – aircraft, crew, working party. I never heard anyone exchange a snarl, a sour word or even a mild complaint. We should, I like to think, be cool and phlegmatic in danger, as we are supposed to be intelligent and hardworking at other times. We have a tendency to doze in flight, since we sleep on an average no more than four or five hours a night. We have taken on a dilapidated look; we have grown more and more like the Canso, less and less like the new, bushy tailed Otter. Okay, so what do you expect? We have not been visiting the Bahamas.

We return to Frobe as though it were the end of something, but of course nothing is ever over; the next thing is always beginning. The evening before we take off for Montreal, Fingland drops in to say good-bye. Not because we are going away, but because he is – back to Grise that night. Some urgent word has come from Ottawa, some piece of unfinished business. Do he and Burney make it, flying that long course again? We never know. At any rate they don’t come back. On the way home from the airport in Ottawa, Saulnier mentions in a matter-of-fact way that they were busy most of last night getting a young social worker, a girl, off by canoe in the rain to an Eskimo family in need of help down the bay.

We have been out ten days and touched only a small part of the Arctic, but in those days we have passed in and out of a dimension. Passed out of time, into space and season. We have been a fleck blown across the sky to be speeded or savaged by the wind but the land has been kind to us.

We have been part of Canada’s inescapable Arctic fact - Nunassiaq, the good land.


Irene Baird is one of Canada’s most original and under-appreciated writers. Born in England in 1919, she spent much of her life in British Columbia and Ontario, and travelled widely in Canada’s north. She is the author of four novels: John (1937), Waste Heritage (1939), He Rides the Sky (1941) and Climate of Power (1971). She also worked for the National Film Board, was a journalist, and became the first woman to head a federal information service. She died in 1981.

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