Life in Inuvik, Northwest Territories
January 16, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Life in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, lying at the end of the Dempster Highway

The panoramas are one highlight, featuring the community greenhouse and utilidors, utility feeds built atop the ground to get around melting permafrost.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (17 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Oooeeerr. Planning to tackle the Dempster (on motorcyle) in 2014. I'll enjoy these links.
posted by parki at 1:03 PM on January 16, 2013

Planning to tackle the Dempster (on motorcyle) in 2014.

This is a post I made a while back about another cyclist who rode the Dempster, who offered some tips. The cycle gear info may not be relevant to you, but the other equipment recommendations might be helpful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2013

Watching Ice Road Truckers made me read a lot about this area. Great stuff, thanks.
posted by Melismata at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2013

I did the Alaska Highway a few years back. Met a couple in Dawson who were planning to hit the Dempster up to Inuvik. I'd love to do the same sometime. Spending time in the North was a great experience that will stick with me forever. I've only been to Yukon, which is generally more developed than NWT or Nunavut, but I'd love to check out the other territories.

Hell, my wife and I are intent on eventually moving to Whitehorse.

There are some great pictures here. Thanks for sharing.
posted by asnider at 1:26 PM on January 16, 2013

A friend of mine spent a year or so working up in Inuvik recently, and he had nothing but horror stories about life in town.

Here's his first email to me, verbatim:

"Today the shop dog, there are 4 shop dogs, comes in missing a peice of skin the size of a pie plate on its hind quarter, I thought it got mauled or something, turns out it froze to the ground, tore off the fur and skin , it looks like a steak, the owner threw road salt on it so it would not bleed all over the shop, met some cool eskimos they sure like there whale meat, they let it rot then eat it its called muk tuk, the sun is so bright it hurts my eyes, and its hard getting used to sharing the road with skidoos even in town."

His second month there, his shop mate chopped off some fingers on his hand. Basically it was a really cool place in some ways, but riddled with alcohol, drugs, no safety standards to speak of, SPCA horror stories, etc.

So, visiting it may be neat, but living there didn't sound like fun at all.
posted by tatiana131 at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

BICYCLING up there? Good heavens. That's a lot of riding through some pretty featureless terrain.
posted by GuyZero at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2013

I was born in Inuvik, but my family moved to Edmonton when I was about 1 and I haven't been back. I'm always fascinated by pictures of the town and the landscape, though. Last year, I spent a couple of hours "walking" around with Google Street View before I realized how cool it was that Google had taken pictures in such a remote place.

My parents were there for a couple of years around 1980 to run the airport, and they have fond memories and good stories of their time there. It sounds like it was rough, definitely, but they don't regret their time there.
posted by Fully Completely at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, hey, didn't expect to find a local story on Mefi! (Greetings from Berton House in Dawson City, my home and office till the end of March.)

During the few hours of daylight we're getting right about now, it is indeed pretty up here. One curious thing about Inuvik - which I find particularly troubling as the mercury reads about -22C on the thermometer out my window, making this a bit warmer than the norm for January - is that the town's running out of natural gas, its sole supplier of heat and electricity.

The crux of it:
But as the prospect of the massive $16-billion Mackenzie Gas Project fades — sagging gas prices, skyrocketing construction costs witnessed over a near-biblical hearing and decision making-process all to blame — and the current wells run dry, the town’s 3,000 residents are now faced with two choices: return to diesel or switch to synthetic natural gas. Either would double current energy and heating costs and the former option would add upwards of $20,000 per home to replace gas furnaces and any appliances running on the relatively cheap fuel.
This is apparently just a multitiered disaster of poor planning and forecasting. They were counting on seemingly done deal of limitless gas from the Mackenzie pipeline; now they're in pure crisis mode. I wonder what the geothermal resources are like up there.
posted by gompa at 2:21 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

(Oh, and I was half-kidding about the "local" thing. Inuvik's 500+ km north of here at the southern terminus of the Dempster; still, I'm guessing I'm closer than any other Mefite at the moment.)
posted by gompa at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow, goompa, I didn't know you got the Berton House residency - congrats! What a great experience. When I hear Inuvik I think of the people i have met with mental health issues that can only find medical recovery support down south, far away from their social support. My dad, after living in NWT for years, always said it was like the Wild West up there and attracted a certain type of person (which I guess he is...)
posted by saucysault at 2:49 PM on January 16, 2013

I see Parki's planning to head up in 2014. I'm hoping to motorcycle up this year. Tentative plans have me going from MSP to Winnipeg, then to Yellowknife, Dawson City, Inuvik, across into Alaska and up to Deadhorse, then back via the Marine Hwy. Any MeFites interested in meeting along the way drop a MeMail.
posted by DaveP at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2013

Also Previously
posted by Avenger at 5:08 PM on January 16, 2013

Have fun DaveP and safe travels!!

My plan (which I'm still machinating on) is Toronto to Inuvik with side trip to Ivvavik and Vuntut. North country is grand. Jonesing for another set of long days on the road.
posted by parki at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2013

I've been reading a blog written by a guy in Nunavut at the northeast extreme end of Canada. He stopped updating last summer but it's well worth a read as well.
posted by leslies at 5:55 PM on January 16, 2013

(Greetings from Berton House in Dawson City, my home and office till the end of March.)

I'm super jealous! I would looooove to get the Berton House residency one day. I guess I should make more of an effort to get published.

I enjoyed my brief stay in Dawson. I'm not sure I'd know what to do during the winter, but it's a gorgeous town in the summer.
posted by asnider at 6:53 PM on January 16, 2013

I don't understand -- I mean, I do understand, but I don't understand -- how someone in a town of 3,000 can steal from the food bank. Surely you're related to half the people in town?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I drove the Dempster and visited Inuvik last summer. Interesting place to visit once, but I never have to go back. It's kind of like they built a town at the end of a 750 mile long pier because you really can't get off the road. The Mackenzie Delta is basically a big swamp. Amazing from the air, but at ground level kinda monotonous. And the I ate at every restaurant in town while I was there. All the food was universally bad, but you can't really fault 'em. They gotta truck or fly in everything. Late one night, like midnight - the sun was still up - we went into this place selling chinese food. While we were waiting for our order some kid came in with a harpoon and started yelling at the guy back in the kitchen in real threatening manner. I couldn't understand the language he was speaking but I got the distinct impression he was some kind of local thug and this was a shakedown. On the other hand, just about everyone else I met there who had come from some other place seemed really enthusiastic about being there. The town seemed to have a lot of community spirit and the government had done a lot to make life there as interesting as possible.
posted by spudsilo at 10:36 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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