Tuesday, 16 December 2014
I wish all visitors the best festive season ever, a Happy Christmas and the nicest ending days of this year 2014.
Some images of arctic settlements and towns celebrating Nöel :
71º 17' N
64º 30' N
63º 45' N
65º 36' N
78º 13' N
62º 34' N
62º 02' N
62° 04′ N
60´º 00' N
63º 25' N
66º 56' N
Thursday, 4 December 2014
The Igloolik island and settlement are among the most visited in last century's arctic expeditions, by land or by sea.
Igloolik is located right on a possible Northwest Passage, almost half way from Greenland to Alaska, in a sea strait often frozen, making it a strategic place for the wintering and refurnishing of ship expeditions.
The route from the Atlantic ocean through Foxe Basin to the Gulf of Boothia is part of the historic Nortwest Passage expeditions. William E. Parry, in his 'Second voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage', during the years 1821 to 1823, mapped the east coast of Melville peninsula.
The narrow strait connecting the Foxe Basin westword to the gulf of Boothia was named the Fury and Hecla strait, in hommage to Parry's two ships. Later, in 1847, John Rae proved Melville is a peninsula, not an island.
By the end of the 1930's the Hudson's Bay Company had set up a post on the island. But only in the 1970's was the hamlet officially recognized and benefited from minimum facilities - nursing station, health care, basic education and decent housing.
Igloolik is quite close to the large Melville Peninsula and its other settlement of Hall Beach, a few hours distance to the south.
Population: ~ 1600
Coordinates: 69°22′ N, 81°47’ W
(North of the arctic circle)
The name 'Igloolik' means 'there's a house here'. It derives from igloo, which means house or building.
Igloolik's local radio station.
The 'Nunavut Quest' – a top dog sled race through High Arctic.
The sled race runs hundreds of miles from Igloolik to Pond Inlet, or from Arctic Bay to Igloolik - it's not always the same route. The first race was called the North Baffin Quest, with competing mushers from Clyde River, Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet and Hall Beach.
Local women in traditional clothes.
The airport terminal:
An important link to all southern Canada.
The Tummivut building:
Housing the local government's offices.
The 'Igloolik Research center':
Artist Henry Evaluardjuk (b.1923) was born in Igloolik. His beautifully stylized bears are likely the result of his hunter’s memory combined with the influence of varied native communities he visited.
Hall Beach (Sanirajak) is just 70 km south of Igloolik, at the north-eastern tip of Melville peninsula.
Coordinates: 68°45′ N, 81°13′ W
Population: 650 -700
Hall Beach is the oldest permanently populated community north of the Arctic Circle. Nearby there are a few Thule archaeological sites.
The DEW line
The community of Hall Beach was formally recognized as a hamlet in 1957, following the construction of a DEW (Distant Early Warning) station here.
This was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, Aleutian Islands of Alaska, the Faröe Islands, Greenland and Iceland.
It was set up to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War, and provide early warning of a land based invasion.
The military base attracted people to this area with the promise of jobs and trade.
After the Cold War ended, the DEW station was eventually decommissioned.
The flora of Melville peninsula
I'd like to end with some more joyful subject. Maybe with some images of the local flora - the arctic tundra explodes in colourful clusters of flower each spring. Here are some examples:
Arctic Bell Heather
Sunday, 23 November 2014
I simply can't resist the particular charm of these small civilized places, with almost every modern facilities, but completely isolated in a semi-desert and bare natural environment. These are genuine european "Ultimi Thuli ", the last refuges in Europe for those seeking quietness and simple life merged in pristine and protected Nature.
North Uist is sub-arctic, at its 57º N latitude. Trees are scarce (mostly rowan trees, or mountain-ashes), the island is almost plane and covered with grass or a few shrubs.
The Vikings arrived in the Hebrides in 800 AD, where they built large settlements, but later the island must have been almost deserted in large periods of History. Presently some 1300 inhabitants live there, scattered in small or minuscule settlements.
The main 'town' is the fishing port of Lochmaddy, where the ferry from Skye or Harris, more frequented islands connected to the continent, arrives at least twice daily with supplies, the post, news from the world... and visitors ! Yes, because Lochmaddy became a small-scale Mecca for walking and cycling tourism, offering a surprising choice of lodging places.
In North Uist, the severe lack of trees does no harm the natural beauty of freshwater lochs, estuary heather moorland, inlets and grassy hills.
Lochmaddy (Scottish Gaelic: Loch nam Madadh, "Loch of the Hounds") is the administrative centre of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Coordinates: 57.60° N, 7.16°W
The first mention of Lochmaddy is dated 1616: "Lochmaldie on the coast of Uist is a rendezvous for pirates". The natural protection of the local harbour made it ideal for raids against ships sailing nearby.
Nowadays the same good harbour makes Lochmaddy the ferry port for the island, and the village has the only bank, courthouse, tourist information office, post office and youth hostel on North Uist.
Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre
The Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre stands close to the high-tide mark in Lochmaddy. The oldest building, from 1741, was originally an inn.
This is a major a focus for cultural life in North Uist. Taigh Chearsabhagh include a museum, where displays of local life and history can be seen. There are also two galleries.
It is worth visiting for its family-run café alone. The shop stocks a selection of books, pottery, jewellery and crafts, plus music by traditional Scottish musicians.
The 'Hut of the Shadows'
Along the shore, after crossing a suspended bridge over a deep inlet, stands a traditional, turf-roofed building. Hut of the Shadows was built on 1997 on the end of a spit of land and surrounded by sea, islands and sky; the work, also by welsh artist Chris Drury, is a grass-roofed, stone tumulus which mirrors the shapes of the surrounding islands.
It has a curved passageway leading into a small chamber which, by means of a lens and three mirrors built into a wall, projects on to the opposite wall, the reflections of Loch nam Madadh´s waters like an old blurred movie.
Winner of several prizes in 1997 and 1998, for the protection through art of rural Scotland.
Still in northwestern Uist, a rather peculiar feature is the Scolpaig Tower, a weird octogonal tower on a small islet in a low-tide inlet lake.
Built over an Iron Age dun on a small islet in Loch Scolpaig, it's a Gothic-style lunacy from 1830 with the noble intention of providing employment and income to starving natives.
But, on the island of North Uist, the most distinctive landmarks are the turf-roofed thatched houses, like this one in the northwest, at Malacleit near Sollas.