Day 14, Sunday, August 18, 1996
We lost our hearts and heads in Kimmirut today. It was a day filled with spectacular views, icebergs, and kids. We spent the morning hiking the hills surrounding the town, getting some great views of Soper Lake on one side, the ocean on the other, and the town itself. Kimmirut is situated at the end of a long inlet. Whalers used it for a sheltered harbour over 100 years ago. Its a beatiful setting for a town - clear green water, dark grey and light grey hills, boats anchored in the harbour. most of the buildlings in Kimmirut are modern, and look much like the buildings we're used to back home. The homes and schools are huddled close todgether on the slope above the harbour. The two notable buildings in town are the Anglican church and the Soper House, both dating back to the early years of this century. Soper House is so named because the famous Canadian biologist Dewey Soper, lived here while he carried out biological surveys of Baffin Island.
The Anglican Church in Kimmirut
ATVs zoom up and down the dusty streets. Most of the dogs in town, for
unexplained reason, have very short legs, like a cross between a
and a weiner dog. "Caterpllar dogs, Dan called them. "Quadripedes", quiped
Wade. Many of the boats are old freighter canoes. These are REAL canoes,
about five feet high at the bow. A bright yellow Twin Otter regularly
in and out of town, landing on a runway bulldozed bwteeen the hills above
town. Its the only way out of town, except for a very long walk to Iqaluit
up the Soper River valley, or a long trip by boat.
In winter, its only a few hours by snowmobile overland to Iqlauit.
Overlooking Lake Harbour
A huge monolithic hunk of light grey marble, polished smooth by glaciers, juts out into the harbour. Kimmurut means "heel" in Inuktitut, and the rock does look like the heel of a foot if you use your imagination. On a steep gravel slope at the inland end of the harbour,
From a hill near town, we could look out to sea beyond the inlet where
is located, and we saw icebergs not far offshore. We all thought it would
be amazing to see them up close, and we were ecstatic when we found that
Jaffray had arranged for a local resident, Jamesie Kootoo, and his
take us out to sea. We packed all our warmest clothes; although it was a
and sunny day in town, we figured it would be cold on the ocean with all
those icebergs floating around.
The coast here is spectacular. We keep using that word, overusing it, in fact, but it really is...Spectacular! We cruised by a waterfall plunging over 100 feet into the ocean. Of course, depending on the tide, the height of the waterfall could vary by as much as 15 metres. The tides here are almost of Bay of Fundy proportions. Dark grey hills of Canadian shield, and light grey marble mountains slope steely to the clear green sea...Caribbean green, but not Caribbean warm. We cruised by an island where a pack of huskies rushed down to the shore to greet us, howling and yipping, expecting to be fed. Jamesie told us that these were sled dogs owned by Tommy Akavak, left on the island for the summer. It must be a great doggie holiday, to do nothing all summer but run free on your very own island. Jamesie told us that their owner comes out to feed them several times a week. They looked like very well- fed happy dogs.
The highlight of the ocean trip was the icebergs. Its hard to find words to describe them. They're like free-form ice scultptures. One was shaped like a blue whale, one was like a gull on the water, one like a murr swimming. Of course, from the other side, they looked totally different. And there were real gulls and murrs on the water beside the bergs, but sadly, no whales. Cameras were clicking and zipping and whirring as Jamesie circled the icebergs.
Then Jamesie took us to a site on the coast where people had camped for centuries, maybe millenia. Circles of stones, covered by moss now, marked where sod or skin houses once stood. Vertebrae from bowhead whales (now sadly extirpated from this area), and seals, were scattered on the ground. While we investigated the site, Jamesie's son caught sculpins in the tide pools.
Jamesie's son prepared tea for us as we departed for town. It was good to sip hot tea and pilot biscuits. Everyone was getting chilled as we sped along the icy waters.
Tonight, we were invaded by the kids of Kimmirut. Actually, we invited
over for hot chocolate, but we were inundated by more than 50 kids. We
have enough hot chocolate, so we brewed up a batched of fruit juice
It was mayhem. We asked the kids to tell ghost stories, where they had
travelled, lotso f other questions.
Playing Hangman with the children of Kimmirut
One boy told of about five ghosts he had seen when he was camping with his family along the coast. He said they moved, but their legs didn't move; that's how he knew they were ghosts. We drew a map of Canada to show where Ottawa was in relation to Kimmirut. Finally, as the noise level rose, we resorted to "Hangman". As all semblance of control dissolves into chaos, we had to boot them out. It was getting late for us, but kids in Kimmirut seem to stay up until about two AM. These are great kids, polite, eager to help, but filled with energy. They called Wade the "Chinese White Man", which is kind of humurous. Earlier in the evening, when only about a dozen kids were visiting, they showed us how to do Alaska high kicks, double foot high kicks, single high kicks, and a form of torture involving hoppping and floppping across the floor on your fists and toes. We barely survived the night of the kids.
Tomorrow, we will need to slip out of town quietly before we are overwhelmed by their boundless energy.
Today's installment of the travelogue was by Max Finkelstein.