May 4, 2011

A snowmobile parked in front of a Parcoll tent, with shipping containers and a building in the background.
The Parcoll tent where samples will be analyzed.

An early departure from home, my baggage in tow, and I was en route to three weeks of research in the Arctic. Unlike the day before yesterday, today’s flight wasn’t cancelled due to poor weather. The First Air plane left Ottawa on time at 9:10 a.m. for the capital of Nunavut—Iqaluit—on Baffin Island. The flight went smoothly and I reached my destination at 11:45 a.m., a full 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
It was –10°C outside, but with a beautiful blue sky.

I had quite a long wait in Iqaluit, however, before catching my flight to Resolute. This time, I boarded a smaller plane, and we left Iqaluit at 4:00 p.m. We stopped on the way to fuel up in Hall Beach, a hamlet south of Igloolik, on the shore of Foxe Basin.

Fifteen minutes later, the plane continued its route through clear skies, giving me a glorious bird’s-eye view of the splendour and grandeur of one small portion of the Arctic: almost nothing but snow and ice, with a few pockets of open water in the Barrow Strait.

And, as to be expected, no trace of plant or animal life to be seen. That said, from above, it would be difficult to make out even a big polar bear roaming through this vast expense of white. It’s early May, but the Arctic is still good and cold, with lots of snow and ice.

After a four-hour flight from Iqaluit, the plane finally landed around 8:00 p.m. under snowy conditions. The temperature was –15°C.

I was happy to see that someone was waiting to take me to the Polar Shelf Centre. Once at the centre, I settled into my new home-away-from-home: a single room on the second floor with a private washroom. I unpacked, put away my clothes and then headed to the kitchen to eat my supper, which had been thoughtfully set aside for me.

When my meal was done, I went to the lab to meet my fellow field workers. The lab is set up in a Parcoll, which is a rigid, oil-heated tent that is typically used for research in the Far North (see photo). This is where samples will be analyzed during the three-week research programme.

That’s the story of my arrival here in Resolute. By the way, this blog post was written at 10:00 p.m. and it’s still light outside—no wonder they call it the midnight sun!