Thursday, 7 June 2018

Salluit (Sugluk), a sub-arctic inuit village at nothernmost Quebec

Salluit (formerly Sugluk) is the second northernmost Inuit community in Quebec, Canada, located on a narrow water inlet 20 km inland from the Hudson Strait. It is not accessible by road, only by sea or by air through Salluit Airport.

Salluit means "The Thin Ones" in local Inuktitut, referring to local inhabitants in a time when they faced starvation for the tundra was bare and deserted of herds.

Salluit, Quebec (facing Hudson Bay)

Coordinates: 62° 12′ N, 75° 39′ W
Population:  ~1 400

Hidden among rugged mountains rising close to 500 m., Salluit is a strategic coastal location for meetings attended by people of the Hudson and Northern Quebec shores.

In 1926 the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) established a fur trading post on the far shore of Sugluk Inlet, and in 1930 a store and dwelling was built at present-day Salluit.

Salluit's main road, sloping down to the Hudson Strait inlet.

The golden years of fur trading came to an end around 1936 when the price of pelts collapsed.

As more public services were being installed, Inuit settled around the small village. The first residential houses were built in 1959 and ten years later the native 'Northern' store was established.

New housing: heated, better insulated, two-storey bright coloured houses.

Salluit is located in the low Arctic tundra, in the continuous permafrost zone.

Residential streets.

Crab and fish (freshwater char), seal and walrus hunting are traditional activities that remain important in the community. Besides sea food, there is caribou and ptarmigan hunting, though the decreasing caribou herd is under some protection.

The small fishing fleet remains ashore, stuck in ice the whole winter, waiting for warm spring melting.

Mussel picking in shallow waters at low tide.

New buildings: Hotel and Northern store

The new Hotel Salluit

A cozy space in town.

The Church

In 1930 a Catholic mission was established at the new settlement, but closed some twenty years later. This wide anglican church was built in 1957.

The parish is currently vacant.

Ikusik School
The Ikusik bright blue secondary school in a sunny moment.

The new Nautauvvik sports center, with a fine pool.

The CEN Station

CEN Salluit Research Station is owned and run by Centre d’Études  Nordiques whose secretariat is based at Université Laval, Québec. Salluit is a major observatory site for permafrost studies.

The station, at 62°12’ N, 75°38’ W,  was bult in 2011; a single cabin that can accommodate up to 7 researchers year-round and a container for storing scientific equipment and tools.

The Inuit of Salluit (as in other areas around in Nunavik) have kept a tradition of stone scarving art.

Woman in traditional Amauti playing with child.
[Inuit carver from Salluit]

Caribou roaming the frozen coastal tundra.

NV Salluit is an example of the once miserable native communities that in recent years have reborn as they benefited from some investment and attention. Arctic settlements in Canada show quite visible signs of civilization that are mostly absent elsewhere - as in Alaska or Siberia.

As one should expect Salluit is a great place to observe auroras.

Salluit by the long winter nights.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Måsøy, island of Måsøya - the most remote little hamlet in Norway.

The small Island of Måsøya is one among many on the Barents Sea coastal waters of Norway. At 71º N, it's quite more northernly than the Faröe Islands (62º N).

Most of the island is uninhabited, exposed and treeless rock, and there are just a few miles of roads around its only settlement, Måsøy. A forgotten misty-moisty village surrounded by great sub-arctic scenery make it a perfect Ultima Thule.

Måsøy is a fishing village in Måsøya, at the northern extreme of Norway, west of the larger island Magerøya, and about 300 km above the Artic Circle. For the Norwegian standards, this is a 'poor' community in a forlon piece of land. There are no trees, only a few shrubs, bush and grass, some berries. A herd of a few dozens reindeer shares the island with a few dozens residents, who barely have the minimum common amenities and conveniences.

Glorious scenery but unfriendly living conditions.

Måsøy, island of Måsøya

Coordinates : 71° 01′ N, 24° 59′ E
Population : ~40 (whole island)

Vestervågen, the eastern side of the settlement.

The village is located on the southern part of the island on an isthmus between two small but wide inlets, Østervågen (the fishing port) and Vestervågen.

The island is only accessible by boat; there is a regular ferry and a speedboat.

Damp weather most of the year.

The village was an administrative center decades ago, with its harbour, church and school, and gave name to a large community in Finmark.

Vestervågen sandy bay, back to the church.

The best in Måsøya: white sandy beaches in the freezing waters of the North Sea.

Vestervågen is also the sandy side.

Presently there is only a modest grocery shop with post service. The local primary school closed in 2016. Europe is really too far away.

The school, still looking new, wonderfully located.

As students reduced to one, the school eventually closed and is now for sale.

Post and grocery shop.

Måsøy has a speedboat connection with the municipal center. All the shipping traffic takes place in the east side, Østervågen.

Good harbor conditions help to the fishing activity. After years of stagnation, the capture of crab has been reactivating a small fleet.

The harbour buildings, mainly warehouses and offices.

Ferry departure.

Decorated window at the ferry's waiting shack.

The church in Måsøy

The first church was built in 1747; a century later a new church was built, but like most other in Finnmark, Måsøy Church was burned down by the Germans in 1944.

This new church was completed in 1953, and was designed in similarity to the burned timber church.

Ah, and finally, this is the ideal place to enjoy a magical midnattsol, midnight sun !