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  At Longstaff Bluff,  Baffin Island  Circa. 1965.

During the year 1965, I was stationed on the Distant Early Warning Line in Baffin Island.  I went through all seasons there and actually enjoyed many of the facets of life there. Some of the fascinating aspects of life in the Arctic are: No one contracted the flu or a cold while there, some of the animals were not afraid of humans, winter lasts from 15th of September to about early July, and during the brief summer, there is a beautiful profusion of flowers and plant life.  Although the only trees were "Arctic Willow" that grow about three inches high and then hug the ground. Due to the lack of trees, distances are difficult to determine by sight.  One can scan far more territory in the Arctic than down south, so a one day walking trip should be planned with extreme prudence.

Once in a while, some Eskimos (now referred to as Inuit) would wander through on their way to somewhere.  They would trade some hastily carved bone or soapstone nic-nacs for some sugar, flour and tea.  These were usually 'hunting' parties and would often know some of our resident Eskimos.  Any visitors were welcome at our site so we always granted them their requested rations.  The nearest settlement was about 500 miles away.  We often took photos  of their dogs and other objects as the developing equipment was provided free by our employer.

Candian Eskimo Sled dogs in Fan Harness
An eastern Arctic fan harness with Canadian Eskimo dogs resting in the snow.
  Can you spot 14 dogs in this photo?
    Can you spot the ones that are part wolf?

 Two Dogs basking in summer heat

Two Canadian Eskimo dogs resting in the summer heat  at Hall Beach, NWT

Two Arctic foxes begging for handouts

One day two Arctic foxes showed up and indicated they were on the take for something good to eat.  They were practically tame and we were successful in enticing one into the module where we fed it some goodies.  It was not comfortable in the heat so we let it go back outside after taking some photos to prove this story.

The Caribou were so tame that one actually began nibbling at my pants back pocket once, when I was leaning over trying to open a lock on a shed.  To shoot one of those lovely creatures would have been unthinkable to any of us.


However, the Canadian Government ordered  us not to provide enough meat to our two on-site Eskimo families,  so as to maintain their hunting skills.  Believe me, there was not much skill involved most of the time.  Once, I went on a Hare hunting trip with an Eskimo, and the Arctic Hare actually stood there about twenty feet away and patiently waited for the Eskimo to adjust his rifle sights with a rock, before finally dispatching the animal after several shots.

I asked an Eskimo how they introduced wolf blood into their dogs, and one told me that they would take a bitch in heat out on to the tundra and leave it there tied to a stake with enough meat to last a week.  When they retrieved the dog,  and  if it was still alive, it was pregnant.  If it was torn to pieces, a female wolf had happened across it.  The Eskimo outlook on life was far more fatalistic than ours and a couple of their dogs were entirely  expendable to gain some wolf blood in their teams.

Pure wolf sled teams were useless as wolves didn't have the necessary pulling strength, however some wolf  blood was thought to improve the overall stamina of the team. Sadly, during the 1970sand 1980s,the Eskimos took to snowmobiles to the extent that most of the Sled Dogs were killed off.  Today there are very few left, and they are on the brink of extinction.

Arctic fox enticed into building
A wild Arctic fox resting under table in the dining module


A typical snow swept treeless vista on Baffin Island

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