LANDLUBBER NOVEMBER, 2000

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TWO WEEKS IN NON-ANGLOPHONIC CANADA
(1999-07-02)

19990702T0000

Me, walking in Iqaluit, midnight.

It is not north enough for the sun to be up . . .


This afternoon Mike & I were looking at the Environment Canada arctic weather report, and noticed that for some town, the forecast "tonight" was -- "sunny". Took pictures of the TV.

We were watching CBC News report tonight, and the international news was about France, Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Congress. That is what the Canadians care about. T0004

I can't quite decide whether to go to sleep or to wait for the natural midnight . . . T0005

The kids here wear about the same stuff as one would "in New Jersey in the winter", says Mike, and I quite agree. the only thing I don't see kids wearing are petits (tank tops for chicks with strings). Kids dye their hair & stuff. T0006

"25 % of the Nunavut population are kids.'' (see later for corrected stats) or something like that -- read Mike (but incorrectly transcribed by me). And his (our) observation is that there are packs of kids around, with or without adults . . . . T0008

Statistics Canada is hiring a person (interviewer) for commodity price observation in Iqaluit. I should get Mike to check the ad out. Most foodstuff here they have here from the south is from Québec, Montréal in particular. T0011

We are/I am to write Iqaluit restaurant reviews for the little t.


Kamotiq Restaurant (Igloo shaped outside, Hunter's lodge inside)

Serves "country food", burgers, Italian & Mexican food.

The cheese pizza is as decent as you would from a mediocre/good eatery in the South.

Only serves 2 kinds of beed of mediocre quality for a bit of a hiked price: Blue/Bleue and Canadian. But since Nunavut is mostly dry, this is probably one of the only few places you can get beer legally in town (i.e. do not expect to pick up a 6-pack in the Co-op (Arctic Ventures, I mean) or the Northern Store -- the only 2 supermarkets in town) (Incidentally, it is illegal to bring alcohol into Nunavut without a permit).

The house specialty, and something worth coming to town for, is the local "country food".

The "arctic platter" is a must if you don't expect to have the opportunity to try something similar for the rest of your life. Served raw & frozen, the dish has a generous portion of caribou meat, arctic char and whale blubber for 2 people. Other than the fact that you can go down South and freak kids out every Christmas saying "I ate Rudolph's friend", one of these might actually be delicious to you.

Try the whale blubber with salt and pepper -- they give the rubbery "delicacy" infinitely more flavor, and you'll need the fat inside for the hike tomorrow up the "road to nowhere".

For the eastern palate, the arctic char is similar in type to the sashimi of Japan, and comparable to that of the best in quality. Let it melt (thaw) for a few minutes, if frozen fish ain't really your thing.

The adventurous western tongue will surely enjoy the caribou meat -- comparable to an excellent, rare steak. Cut into pieces like sashimi, it may look unfamiliar, but -- what more can I say -- try it and see if you are "cool" enough to like it.

T0030 Personally, I'd make the dish a regular part of my daily meal if it weren't so darned expensive and inaccessible from where I live. T0031

expense -- 72 CAD (tax & tip incl.) for 2 people (cheese pizza, arctic platter, a Blue beer).

rate 3 out of 4 (only for the extremely adventurous)

T0033

Grind & Brew

Really homey style, with a hunter's lodge interior.

May seem a bit crowded, but it is a welcomed change from the vast land outside.

A very comprehensive collection of coffee beans, considering its location. Rusty, tough, nearly survivalist attitude. (The coffees are served either in styrofoam cups, or in personal mugs on the wall for the frequent.)

Ice cream, danishes and other goodies are flown in from Montréal. Prices are probably more reasonable than many of the coffeeplaces down South.

The people next table will be talking loud and sharing great going-ons around town. Keep your ears and minds open, and be friendly. T0040

prices -- some 5 CAD or so for a danish & a coffee.

rating -- 2 out of 4 T0041


La Belle Province
Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec (with branches all over Québec, probably)

Québécois style fast-food, a nice change from full-fledged restos or "apostrophe-s", anglophonic chain-stores.

The servers are bilingual in French & English, some even trilingual in French, English & Spanish.

Nice "American diner" interior, with a twist of 1960s seedy francophone Québécoism.

Check out one of their combos -- not your usual burger, but heavy with mustard and lettuce pickles (I think?).

Or, try the constructive linguistic food hot-dog/chien chaud.

Poutine, the Canadian specialty, should also be on your list.

The food ain't the greatest you'll have of its kind, but it's a "have been there" kind of place you can boast about upon return.

price -- some 6 to 7 CAD for a combo(?), Québec taxes like no one's business. Keep the receipt for the tax refund.

rate -- 2 out of 4.

T0049 All right. 10 minutes to natural midnight. I am getting incoherent writing these resto reviews under fatigue. Gotta go out, take some pix, and come back and sleep. T0051

Have to correct myself: there are streetlights here. I just had not noticed . . . . Now I have.

Went out and took a couple of pictures of what the town looks like at natural midnight -- a couple of cabs (of which tehre are plenty, if not too many, in town).

You can't see the stars, not just because of the overcast of clouds (duh), but also that it's just not dark enough, even if there had been no overcast.

Anyway. Time to sleep. T0101

It was cold, but nice out. With a sweatshirt I was able to deal with it OK. No need for jackets unless there is wind in area of activity. T0103

Plan:

  • laundry
  • Bible dude
  • Movies @ 2100

T1150 We walked around town a bit this morning before everything opened at 10:00.

Went to the mall to get some postcards, and sent postcards to Alan, Patrick James Drew and Dabney House. I also sent one for Katy.

We decided to see a movie at 2100.

I went to do laundry at the laundromat.

The Inuk lady sold me a box of detergent for 2  CAD.

She was very punctual: when I came back for the dryer, all of the dryers were occupied by her stuff. Within 30 seconds of the dryers stopping, she came in to pick up everything. T1158

Plan:

  • laundry pick-up Qikiqtani laundromat and drycleaning
  • Bible dude (Roger) call Roger in 30 minutes (now T1203)

T1421 Sylvia Grinnell Park.


(photo copyright © 1999 Michael Drew Benedetti)
Breathtaking scenery in one of the most accessible parks in Nunavut.

left Discovery Lodge T1242
to sign (1 km to Park) T1306
Waterfall scenery (in the Park) T1323

No other tourists/people were there. T1423

T1635 Went to the museums: The Visitor's Ctr museum and the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum.

There was the surreal substitution of animal roles: bear playing accordions, bear & caribou testing strength (armwrestling), bird sled teams, &c. T1643

Nothing (Freudian) about sex or reproduction.

The place I kept calling the Co-op is actually the "Arctic Ventures" store, with a great bookstore, where I bought an Inuktitut New Testament and a "1000-word" dictionary. There was this great multi-dialectal dictionary published by the Nunatta Campus of the Nunavut Arctic College, but costed 78  CAD. I decided not to buy now -- I can buy it later by mail . . .

(We saw a caribou on the way to Grinnell Park . . .) T1648

Plan for Montréal:

  • Poulet Frit Kentucky
  • Uygur Restaurant
  • Tim Horton's
  • Museums
  • Québec, ville de
  • Jazz festival
T1651

The Snack T1853

We went to the teen hangout in town, "The Snack". Opens 24 hours. Delivers in town. Mike wrote a review for it.

The Snack: Iqaluit, Nunavut

One of the northern-most '50s-themed eateries in Canada. Enjoy a medium pizza and two small, locally-bottled pops for 22 CAD, beneath a "Bat Out of Hell" gold record and pictures of Elvis, Marilyn, and James Dean. You can watch the activity on the beach of Frobisher Bay while listening to the clientele chat in three languages and watch the proprietress kick out loitering kids.

copyright © 1999, 2000 Michael Drew Benedetti

(An Australian TV crew checked in to the hotel with us at the same time we checked in.)

Kids trying to play around but the French-Canadian counterlady was not exactly nice to them, if not actively hostile to them.


old French-speaking man's crazy hairstyle.

Came back to the room tired. Watched some TV. T1914

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police/Gendarmerie royaume du Canada is nicknamed the "Mounties".

Canadian-themed stuff:

  • Cartoon "Klondike Cat"
  • Strange Brew
  • Nelson Eddy
-- according to Mike Benedetti. T1917

Astro Cinema. We saw "Run Lola Run", a German film, in the (probably) most northern private, permanent commercial cinema in North America. T2311

We went into the cinema right before T2100. The ticket was 8.00 CAD. I bought a "slush puppy" slush thing (strawberry). There are many flavors.

The cinema owner seemed to have quite decent taste in movies.

The patrons of this particular film were white middle aged guy and teenage Inuit kids.

Movie was OK, but I realized that Iqaluit is more like a movie than Berlin to me.

We came out of the cinema circa T2200 and came out of the mall from the back door, and found a bar "The #1 Nightspot of the East Arctic". Still light out. T2316

Nunavut issues:

population
Iqaluit will easily have 10 000 people by 2020. And the correct stats for the kids is "60 % of the population in Nunavut is under 25."
crime/sexuality
Sexuality does not seem to be openly discussed, but there are a significant number of sex crimes & sexual assault cases. Also, the movies & the teen culture of the south seem to have a great influence of the Iqaluit culture. I wonder when the first armed robbery will occur. (Or has it already happened?)
population
How is Iqaluit going to accomodate 10 000 people? The laundromat is too small . . . What about schools and the employment market?
media
of course no community lives in a vacuum. They have ktla 5 here. But do modern conveniences always come with modern problems?
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