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Discovering Kugluktuk – Shawn MacKenzie

A look back at some posts from the 2009 trip to Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay which have never been published on this website.

Originally published at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Posted by Shawn MacKenzie

Hello, It’s 11:00pm, and we just got back from the clinic. We were hoping to have some time to stop by the local school library and write, but we were on our feet all day doing wellness exams and spays and neuters. It is great weather today, although we didn’t get to enjoy much of it as we were in our clinic most of the day. I thought I’d take a few minutes, though, to blog about what Kugluktuk is like and then give Nicole the opportunity to write about our first day at the clinic.

The hamlet of Kugluktuk sits on the Coronation Gulf, which is still frozen solid. The snowmobilers race up and down the shoreline at all hours—especially since it only gets dark for a few hours each night. (I’m writing this at 11:00pm, and the sun is just starting to set—a process that takes about an hour.) From Kugluktuk you can see many islands off in the distance that appear to be no more than a mile or two off shore; but, according to the locals, these “appearances” are due to the optical illusion of the sun’s reflection. What we are seeing are actually mirror images of the islands ten to twenty miles off in the distance.

The homes of most of the locals line the rocky shoreline, although many of the local people live further inland and travel by snowmobile, kayak or boat, depending on the season, to work. A lot of the homes in the area are empty right now because families have travelled further inland to set up hunting camps. Some families have already returned and have laid their trophies out on their porches to allow the dry air of the north to preserve them. On our drive to the government building where our clinic is set up we pass pelts from muskox, bear, wolf, fox and wolverines. We have learned a lot about the culture and lifestyle of those individuals who are native to this area. Hopefully I will have a chance to send some pictures soon.

Sorry for another short post, but after being at the clinic from 8:00 this morning to 11:00 tonight we are all a little tired. Tomorrow the local wildlife officers have agreed to take us out along the Coppermine River to a place called “Bloody Falls”; it’ll be interesting tomorrow to find out more about how that place got its name. We will be working on some of the dog sled teams that are kept on land and then continuing on to explore the area. The wildlife officers said it was a little too early yet to see much of the wildlife in the area, but we are all keeping our fingers crossed.

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