Over the holidays, I have come to the realization that maybe I've not really done a very good job of telling my "southern" readers where and how I live.
So here goes. I'm going to do a general hit on the particulars of my community life... and (I may regret this later... but oh well) open the comments section up to any questions folks might have.
Here goes, Mr. can o' worms!
- I live in a town/hamlet of about 2300 people. Doesn't sound like much, but its actually the second-largest community in the territory.
- It's not big population-wise, and its not big geographically either. According to wikipedia, it is about 24 km-squared.
- Location-wise... we sit right on the Hudson Bay. On my 20-minute walk to work I pass by the bay. There's also a big lake that sits in the middle of the town. I'll make sure to post a nice map of this soonish. I just have to scan it when I get back
- We have an airport, a pretty big one... which is needed because it is (like basically all communities in Nunavut) a fly-in community. We have several flights a day that come in... from Edmonton, Winnipeg, Iqaluit and other surrounding northern communities.
- These flights also bring up food and supplies. So its not like we eat canned veggies and freeze-dried meats all the time, but the "fresh" fruits and veggies we do get... are a little worse for wear. The tomatoes are more likely to be hothouse, and lack that deep juicy red colour (and flavour). The pears, often bruised. Not a nectarine in sight. But I guess that's the price you pay.
- And speaking of, yes, things are significantly more expensive. Rumour has it things aren't as bad in Rankin as other communities. A co-worker once told me when people from Arviat (neighbouring community) come to Rankin it's like us going to the Walmart in Yellowknife. Shopping spree. On average, things are around 2 to 2.5 times the price of what they would be "down south". There are some exceptions: lettuce, for one... asparagus, for another. But a pineapple runs between $12-20... and a 10lb bag of potatoes goes for $20 (yep, killer for an island girl). A 2L bottle of pepsi costs $9. Which drives me crazy when I see them going 3 for 5 bucks here hahah.
- As a result... once a year there is a "sea lift" service. People order a year's worth of dry goods, dog food, pop ... as well as have things like cars, 4-wheelers... ski-doos etc. shipped up via barge. Several barges arrive between August and mid-September to deliver these supplies. It's like Christmas!
- There are three restaurants in town. They all basically sell the same food, just vary in price. None of it is that great, nothing to write home about. But its kind of something you might eat if you were tired of cooking, not something you crave.
- We don't have a McDonalds. Or Wendy's we kind of have a KFC/Pizza Hut, but .... it is limited in selection, and not really very good either. And quite pricey. Nine bucks for a chicken sandwich... and that doesn't include the fries ... and nothing comes with a pop. Nothing.
- There are no bars. You can drink at the hotel (but only if you are a guest, so you have to be really desperate ... and spend $200 bucks for a room so that you can have a drink. And if that's what it's come to... well then you have other problems. There is also the legion... which is probably about the size of my apartment, and you can only drink there if you are a member. Membership is something like $70 for the year.
- There are no liquor stores. All alcohol comes via special order. Generally, the way it works is you are "granted" (or ... you purchase, is probably the better way of saying it) a temporary liquor license. Then you pick from a list of available products (there are easily hundreds of beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks etc.). You pay for the license, and the alcohol... and a couple days later it arrives via plane. Then you have to pay the shipping. It costs at least 30 bucks to have cargo shipped up from anywhere (that's the flat base rate) so you order a goodly bunch at a time to make it worth your while.
- There are two main stores. The Co-op and the Northern. The Co-op is much like any co-op... but with slightly more household items (like fabrics, televisions etc.) and the northern is a bit more like a Walmart, with an expanded grocery section. There aren't really any clothing stores. You can buy clothes at the Northern, or through their catalogue. Or order online .... or wait till you go down south... like a lot of us do.
- Mail comes twice a day. It's fantastic. You get mail at 10 and 3. It is easily the best part about living up north. Oh, and the lack of slush. I hate slush.
- At this point, there are no cell phones. But that may be changing in the near-ish future.
- In the dead of winter we get down to about 4 hours of direct sunlight ... from 10 to 2. The sun starts to rise at about 9, and is mostly gone by 3 or so. But that's going to get better, as we're over the solstice-hump.
- Yes, it really is quite cold. It's been pretty steadily at -30 for a month or so... and the windchill makes it at least -40. I have the longest walk of anyone I know... 20 minutes to and from work... so I wear my Canada Goose parka, North Face boots (warm to -40... but I've never had them leave me anything but toasty) and wind pants (actually, combination wind and waterproof. I don't have down-filled ones like some people I know, but mine work just fine, and they were like fairly cheap from Mark's). The only thing that I bought down south that wasn't really suitable for nothern living was my mitts... I always just wore knit mitts... "grandma knits" is what we called them... so that was one of the first things I got when I arrived north, a suitable pair of mitts. All in all... I wear about a grand's worth of winter gear when I leave the house for any period of time. Crazy eh?