Inuvik's 50th Anniversary!

Inuvik Travel Blog

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Park in front of school where Anniversary celebration is taking place

Today was Inuvik’s 50th Anniversary Celebration!  There was a parade at 1:00 pm, which involved the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fire trucks, some homemade floats, and enthusiastic, smiling people waving and throwing candy.  We thought it interesting that many people came to the parade and parked so they could enjoy it from their cars- they know how to behave when it’s cold. 

 

And cold it is!  No sooner than I said we were hot, a front blew through, and it has been in the 50’s today and yesterday.  It is also overcast and a bit rainy, but it didn’t dampen spirits any.  We registered and got nametags (and our names went into the time capsule that was buried today), enjoyed the ceremony where the leaders of the area and legislative representatives and even our friend from the Visitor’s Center south of here spoke.

Park in front of school where Anniversary celebration is taking place
 

 

At the ceremony, we sat by Tom, one of the mechanics at the place were I took Ciao Baby yesterday for her brakes.  He was very helpful in understanding the Northern culture and the people, as his wife is Inuvialuit.  He said that the three groups of people intermingle and get along harmoniously.  Inuvik has had many international people visit over the years and they speak of their acceptance of other cultures.

 

A statue of the 3 groups dancing together was repaired and unveiled at the ceremony.  The prayer was also given in 3 languages.

 

While Ruby, the Teacher, does not have the need of a car, Tom likes his truck, ski do, boat and other “toys” as he called them.

Igloo church
  “Everyone lives in town,” he said, as there is nothing outside of town.  They are working on a pipeline and trying to decide whether it goes down the McKenzie River (cheaper option) or connects to the Alaskan pipeline.  He said one of the few reserves of oil is near here and production is about to boost. 

 

Also, diamonds in the area are a huge commodity, with as many as a third of the world’s diamonds mined here.  Tom said the polar bear is often etched on the local diamonds so that they are not confused with the ones from the South African mines.  I thought one of those would make a terrific souvenir!

 

We’ve been told by 3 sources to go by the Northern Lites Arts & Crafts store when it opens tomorrow to see their terrific art work by local artists.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  I tried to buy Gregory’s polar bear earrings tonight, but they had been sold at the Arts Festival. 

 

The Great Northern Art Festival is held in the Community and Family Center in town.  There is little fanfare around it and you must ask to find it.  But inside, there are the artists and their work, workshops, a souvenir section with t-shirts and caps, and a concession area.  It is small, but well-done, and we really enjoyed it.

 

Everyone has been kind to us and we read in the June 5th local paper in the library where they pointed out, “be sure to welcome our visitors, take time to chat with them and answer their questions they may have about Inuvik.”  They welcome visitors during their speeches as well, although there are probably only a couple dozen of us at most.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  Of those visitors, most have lived here previously and have returned for the “Homecoming.”  

 

Locals are really curious as to why we would make a point to come here.  But they are very nice and genuine, patiently answering our questions.  One curious young lady innocently asked if Americans were friendly, because she’d been told we were not.  That is a little disheartening and I hope we Americans can show kindness and compassion for visitors to our country. 

 

We’re impressed with how relaxed and content most people seem.  They are not particularly jolly (as it is a rather rugged existence up here), but they are quick with a return smile.  It is wonderful to watch the people interact with warmth and caring for each other.  The children seem well-behaved and well-loved.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  Ruby said that family is the center of their value system.

 

We take our shoes off in public places!  The library requires shoe removal and so did the pool area, well outside the changing rooms.  There is usually wet snow or mud around, so it keeps the floors cleaner.  I remember doing similarly in people’s houses in New Hampshire. 

 

We were very happy to get a tour of the Inuvik Church, the Notre Dame of the North, Our Lady of Victory Church by Sister Mary Jo.  It is a famous symbol of Inuvik as it is built in the shape of an igloo, as are both the baptismal font and the alter archway.  We climbed the stairs to the top of the dome and see the wood framing inside.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  Five years after the church was built, the government wanted to see the blueprints and they finally had to hire a draftsman to create some so that the government would not lock the door. 

 

Another interesting church fact was that the wood was so scarce (there are few trees for lumber here) that a few hockey sticks were used in the framing as additional wood.  It is built on a special air pocket above a dish of concrete, with the air pocket continuing into the double roof and out.  The permafrost requires special building methods, as those built directly on the ground may fall when the ground thaws and freezes.  The hospital is the only other building in town which is not built on 2’ pilings, as it has a ground refrigeration system beneath it.  That reminds me of the engineering feat to create the SkyTrain track into Tibet.

 

We spoke briefly with author Dick Hill – we’d missed his new book launch signing in the library yesterday by a couple hours.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  He’s donated many items to the library and we’d like to get his new book.  He also spoke at the celebration.

 

A local rock band of three played in the school auditorium, which we enjoyed as we ate.

 

The town had a celebration barbeque on the lawn in front of the school, where the festivities were held today.  It was all free and included local traditional specialties like goose soup, carp (fish), roasted duck, a special bread made of baking soda and flour, and the usual hot dogs, roast beef with gravy, potato salad, etc.  Volunteers have been meeting for a year to plan the celebration and they were happy to hear that we were most impressed with their town and enjoying our visit.  They certainly seem to have a warm-hearted, generous, caring spirit in this town.

 

We returned today to the grocery store -got a half-gallon of milk for $6.

50th Anniversary Parade!
29!  We visited the fruit man’s truck which was like a grocery store inside.  We bought a block of cheddar cheese for $15, a 2-pack of sandwich ham for $12, and a head of romaine lettuce for $2.19.  There are 2 stores in town that sell various items:  the Home Hardware store and the Mart. The Mart sells everything you’d need to set up house, dress your family, and take care of your household, complete with pharmacy. 

 

The only American franchise in town is the Pizza Hut Express in the Mart.  Inuvik appears to have a café, two pizza/Chinese places, a restaurant in the McKenzie Hotel, the few grocery places, 2 service stations with gas, the schools, a couple gift shops, four churches, and a bank.  The Gwich’in First Nations Headquarters is in town too, as well at the Inuvialuit’s.  I love this town! 

 

Instead of dog sled teams, in the winter, people get around with skidoos.

50th Anniversary Parade!
  Signs indicate where there are no bikes or skidoos allowed.  Cars and trucks go on the ice roads, which are frozen rivers.

 

We tried to use our bank card at 2 ATM’s but because it was not in the network, we could not get any cash.  I think we’ll be fine though.

 

During Ice Breakup time in the spring, and when it freezes in the fall, there are no barges bringing supplies on the McKenzie River and no traveling on the Dempster Highway.  So all supplies must be flown in on planes, and prices escalate for those several weeks’ time.  Annual supplies are shipped on barges.  People go all the way down to Whitehorse to buy school supplies at the Wal-Mart.

50th Anniversary Parade!50th Anniversary Parade!
  That is a LONG journey down there, requiring several (3-4?) days of driving in each direction.

 

The Librarian we met is going to Disney World next week.  She’ll drive to Whitehorse and then fly to Calgary, Vancouver, and finally Orlando.

 

It would be a really fascinating town in which to spend a year, to experience the seasons and learn in-depth about Northern cultures.

 

Inuvik was founded 50 years ago when the town was moved from Aklivuk, as they thought the McKenzie Delta would flood it and it would fall into sea, but a few hardy souls still live there and it has not yet had the feared issues.

50th Anniversary Parade!
 

 

We’ll plan to spend one more day exploring the town since more will be open tomorrow.  The 50th Anniversary Celebration will continue with activities and dances.  Hopefully the sun will shine so we can see the Midnight Sun from our RV roof before we leave.  The kids want to return to the indoor community swim center for fun. 

 

It’s nice sleeping late and really getting to enjoy a location too.  Then we’ll brave the Dempster Highway again to begin our journey across the Top of the World Highway into Alaska.

 

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Park in front of school where Anni…
Park in front of school where Ann…
Park in front of school where Anni…
Park in front of school where Ann…
Igloo church
Igloo church
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!50th Anniv…
50th Anniversary Parade!50th Anni…
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!- Our pool…
50th Anniversary Parade!- Our poo…
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
50th Anniversary Parade!
Tour of the church
Tour of the church
Tour of the church
Tour of the church
Tour of the church with Sister Mar…
Tour of the church with Sister Ma…
Tour of the church- note the igloo…
Tour of the church- note the iglo…
Tour of the church- note the igloo…
Tour of the church- note the iglo…
Tour of the church- note the igloo…
Tour of the church- note the iglo…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Climbing the igloo church stairs t…
Climbing the igloo church stairs …
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo c…
Beautiful carpentry in the Igloo …
Igloo church
Igloo church
50th Anniversary Celebration
50th Anniversary Celebration
50th Anniversary Celebration
50th Anniversary Celebration
Unveiling of the statue
Unveiling of the statue
50th Anniversary Celebration
50th Anniversary Celebration
Dixies lovely hair piece
Dixie's lovely hair piece
Our friend from the Gwinchin Visi…
Our friend from the Gwinch'in Vis…
Tom and his wife at the 50th Anniv…
Tom and his wife at the 50th Anni…
50th Anniversary Celebration cake
50th Anniversary Celebration cake
50th Anniversary Celebration
50th Anniversary Celebration
Fire fighter at 50th Anniversary C…
Fire fighter at 50th Anniversary …
A hilarious dirty RV from the Demp…
A hilarious dirty RV from the Dem…
A hilarious dirty RV from the Demp…
A hilarious dirty RV from the Dem…
A hilarious dirty RV from the Demp…
A hilarious dirty RV from the Dem…
Loved this sign on the main street!
Loved this sign on the main street!
Rivers mural on building wall
Rivers mural on building wall
Rivers mural on building wall
Rivers mural on building wall
Street scene Inuvik
Street scene Inuvik
Fruit Truck man
Fruit Truck man
Charles in the Fruit Truck
Charles in the Fruit Truck
Fruit Truck
Fruit Truck
Prices in the fruit truck
Prices in the fruit truck
Community celebratory barbeque
Community celebratory barbeque
Band playing in school
Band playing in school
Band playing in school
Band playing in school
My friend, Ruby, in upper right co…
My friend, Ruby, in upper right c…
Community celebratory barbeque
Community celebratory barbeque
Community celebratory barbeque
Community celebratory barbeque
Arts Festival displays
Arts Festival displays
Arts Festival t-shirts
Arts Festival t-shirts
Anther ATM that doesnt work- but …
Anther ATM that doesn't work- but…
Local store pics
Local store pics
Local store pics
Local store pics
Local store pics
Local store pics
Note the price for a gallon of mil…
Note the price for a gallon of mi…
Expensive bananas?
Expensive bananas?
Pricey fruit
Pricey fruit
Yum!  Glacier water!
Yum! Glacier water!
Fireweed flower (used for jams)
Fireweed flower (used for jams)
Inuvik
photo by: cvanzoen