Part drastic, part fantastic

A speculative Arctic bestiary, wrought from science and overactive imaginations. By Tim Edwards

Before humans filled the air with toxins that trapped heat and began to melt the ice, the Arctic animal kingdom offered a relatively stable collection of documented beasts. But as climate change progresses, scientists have tallied a list of at least 34 hybrid Northern species that may result from the disappearance of Arctic Ocean ice in summers. Can you tell which of the following are the factually-based hypotheses/discoveries of these scientists, and which are the fever dreams of a foolish writer?*

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Between the lines

Tracing the controversial history and recent revival of Inuit facial tattoos. Photos by Angela Gzowski, text by Ashleigh Gaul 

 

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State of the art

New artists, new disciplines, and shiny new buildings: there’s an exciting generational shift happening in the world of Inuit art. By Margo Pfeiff

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Pitseolak Qimirpik’s Young Man with MP3, courtesy WIllock & Sax Gallery

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Home away from everything: Get in touch with your rustic side at Little Atlin Lodge. By Katie Weaver

Photos by Manu Keggenhoff; exterior shot courtesy of Little Atlin Lodge

Pitch a tent, sleep on the ground, and commune with nature that way. Or wake up in a private cabin with a killer view of White Mountain over the Yukon’s Little Atlin Lake. For breakfast, there’s home-baked Zopf bread, courtesy of your Swiss hosts, Andri Kobler and Rahel Diener, who live in a lodge just out of sight. “There used to be other cabins down the road. They were basic,” Kobler says. “You had to bring your own sleeping bag.” That wouldn’t do for the pair, who in 1997 whipped up two guest cabins complete with full bathrooms, hot showers and sundecks. But it’s not all lounging and tanning: you’re steps away from the water for canoeing, boating and fishing, and the peak of White Mountain is only a two-hour hike away. Then it’s back to the deck for a barbecue dinner—your own freshly caught pike—followed by an unbeatable sunset. Littleatlinlodge.com

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Nerds of the North

Geek culture spreads to the Arctic. By Matthew Mallon

Illustration by Joren Cull

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Swarm out there

Summers are glorious, but for the bloodsuckers—it’s practically a Northern mantra. Things might get even worse: with climate change, biting flies are moving farther North, partly because it’s getting warmer, and partly because it’s raining more often in the summer, creating more soggy breeding grounds. So what are we up against? Let’s round up the usual suspects—and hero. By Samia Madwar, Illustrations by Tonia Cowan

The mad scientist: Blackfly

Secret weapon: After they slice into your skin, blackflies inject you with an anesthetic so you don’t feel the bite right away, then lap up the blood. They’ll also pump in an anticoagulant to keep the blood flowing.

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Handmade music

Whitehorse’s Headless Owl produces sounds you can see and touch. By Matthew Mallon

Growing up semi-alienated listening to punk (and his parents’ singer-songwriter albums) in Whitehorse taught Andrew Stratis three things: 1) music is a powerful, positive force; 2) record labels put out music; 3) vinyl is the best way to consume said music. “Punk rock was where I discovered record labels,” says Stratis now. “When I was younger and read about them and what they were up to, I’d be like, man, that would be really cool.”

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Planning a summer cycling trip? The Canol Bike Trail’s got history, adventure, wildlife and gorgeous, gorgeous scenery. Click on the image to find out more!

Planning a summer cycling trip? The Canol Bike Trail’s got history, adventure, wildlife and gorgeous, gorgeous scenery. Click on the image to find out more!

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On top, it’s all smokey

This is the view from Up Here HQ in Yellowknife. With wildfires blazing through the NWT, weather updates have reported “local smoke” for the past few weeks.   image

Photo by Jenn Lawrence

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Jolly Good: on our recent visit to Pangnirtung’s Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts, renowned printmaker Jolly Atagoyuk gave us a quick tutorial in his craft. Filmed by Angela Gzowski. Music by Wesley Hardisty. Song title: “Gilbert’s Barn Dance” from the album 12:12.

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The North’s top 15 waterways

How to dive into an iceberg, swim with canaries of the sea, avoid seamonsters in the Arctic—and much more. Take a plunge into our 15 top watery Northern getawaysBy the Editors and Katie Weaver

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Photo by Ottilie Short. (A previous version of this story incorrectly credited this photo to Fernando Garcia). 

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The Catch: A fisherman pulls in some fish from the Arctic Ocean’s shore. 

Photos by Angela Gzowski, text by Tim Edwards.

We’d been driving on an elevated road heading to Tuktoyaktuk’s DEW Line site. As we rounded a corner that took us along the ocean coast, we noted a handful of shacks set up along the shore and Wayne Cockney getting his fire going. We parked our rental truck on the side of the road, ambled down and introduced ourselves. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, Cockney offered us tea and let us take pictures while he checked his lines and filleted his catch.

Crouched down by the water’s edge, Cockney pulled his line in, gingerly freeing the fish from the net. With every pull he hoped for herring, but his take this time was almost entirely whitefish. He tossed the big ones in a bucket and sent the smaller ones back into the drink. We crinkled our noses when he pulled out a small, ugly sculpin. “Just a freak of nature, I guess, he said, then tossed it to the seagulls nearby.  

He had a table set up about 10 feet back from the water, its top stained with blood and glittering scales. He quickly filleted the fish, leaving their sides connected at the tail so he could hang them over sticks in a nearby shack. where they’d be dried and cured by billows of smoke.

It’s peaceful. Cockney says he gets out every day that he can. People know they can come to him and get, say, a fillet of smoked herring for $10. It can be tough to make a living, he tells us, but he’s doing it.

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At home in Tombstone

Every summer, Anna Tupakka and her partner roam in the Yukon wilderness. Bugs, broken gear and inquisitive wolves can’t wear them out—but the human condition might. 

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Photo of North Fork Pass in Tombstone Territorial Park by Fritz Mueller

The marmots are screaming again. It begins with one adult’s repeated, high-pitched whistle. Then a neighbour joins in, and then another, until the entire colony is shrieking while scrambling for shelter in the jumbled rock piles. 

From previous forays into Yukon backcountry I’ve learned this almost certainly signals something big, usually a grizzly, is afoot. I’ve been resting against my pack, taking in the surrounding mountain vista. The craggy peak of Mount Monolith looks pretty grand against the shifting grey sky, its likeness mirrored on the calm waters of the unnamed lakes nestled in the cottongrass meadows of Tombstone Pass. 

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Visions of Deline

A tiny community beside a huge body of water makes a historic decision. Its prophet would approve. By Tim Edwards

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Photo by Angela Gzowski

On the Sunday before Délıne, NWT, voted to establish its own aboriginal self-government last March, I went for a walk on Great Bear Lake, the ninth-largest lake in the world. I’d been in town for two days and had only seen slices of it between houses and behind crisscrossing power lines as I wandered around, so I plunged into its snowdrifts, away from the ice road. 

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Some like it wet: the art of Arctic skinnydipping

How a buck naked seagull attack sparked a High Arctic hobby. By Ashleigh Gaul

Inuit don’t swim.That’s what I’m thinking as I wade deeper into an Arctic pond at a northern tip of the Canadian mainland. From the waist up, I am wearing a number of t-shirts, a turtleneck, one cardigan and two sweaters, two scarves, one hat and a pair of mitts. Waist down, I’m naked. 

“Inuit don’t swim” is what Kunuk, my Iglulingmiut host, said before we set out over the ice towards Hall Beach for the Canada Day long weekend. I’m aware that ignoring the advice of an Inuit hunter on matters of the land is pretty much a guarantee you’re going to get into trouble, but I’m an expat southerner who hasn’t seen open water in almost a year. I need a swim like Inuit need seal meat.

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