Catching Up

Yes family, friends and other people who follow this blog we are truly sorry for going on a blogging sabbatical for the past year and change. No worries though, we’re slowly getting things back up to snuff. As you’ve probably noticed we have a new header to commemorate the Return to Active Blogging. It’s easier said than done but alas, I figured I’d put a challenge in front of us to get us back into the groove. We’ve grown so incredibly Facebook-lazy that we’ve neglected the masses who aren’t even on there.

So as 2013 rolls along we’re going to try to make this a viable resource once again. As a token of our determination I’ve revamped our picture diary and arranged it into years so that you don’t have to plow through tons of pictures at once. We still do take a ridiculous amount of pictures though. Now that we have a new DSLR camera I expect us to double that amount in 2013. When last we left off uploading pictures there was around 300 of them. There’s over 600 pictures now combined from all the galleries!

If you think uploading that many pictures is easy, try doing it on the InterNot. Not a fun experience. :)

Enjoy and stay tuned for more content in the near future!

Iqaluit Dress Guide for n00bs

One of the hardest things to account for when we came up here was the weather. Suzanne had done tons of research but the weather in Iqaluit is something you have to experience in order to really know about it. We simply heard “arctic” and “-30°c” and went right to Le Baron and stocked up on gear that could be used up in Grise Fiord. We experienced -30°c a few times in Waterloo and did not like it in the least. You’ll hear the term “dry cold” all too often when speaking with people who live in the north. It’s a difficult concept to explain to those who have only known “humid cold” all their lives. There’ve been many times I’d post on Facebook delighting about certain sub zero temperatures to the chagrin of my parents and southern friends. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t suddenly developed frost armor since coming to Iqaluit. Being chilled to the bones is not a feeling I enjoy. There are days when it’s so miserably cold here that it makes you question your sanity for staying.

In the end though it all comes down to how you dress for the weather. Most homes are well suited for the northern temperatures so you only really have to concern yourself with how you dress outside more than anything else. You’ll encounter a thousand different tidbits of advice across the Net about how to dress for the cold up here. It’s all based on personal preferences, protection from the elements and duration outside. While it is wise to have gear for extreme weather conditions the truth is you really don’t have to dress much different than you would down south most of the time. If you’re not a fan of the cold in general (a) you should live here and (b) your personal arrangement of clothes will more than likely be increased.

To understand Iqaluit weather you have to be aware of two things:

  • It’s cold. Dry or humid, cold is cold nonetheless
  • Wind means EVERYTHING.

For me, I’m a person who has always preferred being cooler than warmer. I find it easier to make myself warm in cold conditions than it is to cool down with oppressive heat. The fact that I’m a big dude probably plays a big factor in that. I’m built like a young polar bear so it just figures that I’d be more acclimated to the north. The following gear guide is just a reference for how I dress any given day in this city. You’ll notice that wind conditions affect what I wear tremendously. I base my gear selections on the higher side of the numbers listed. People have different body types and tolerances for cold so keep that in mind as well. You also gain a bit of conditioning once you’ve been here for over a year. You’ll know it when you head down south and normally nice weather (like 20c) is unbearably warm for you. Anyway I hope it provides a better understanding of what to expect should you choose to come up here.

The Go To (Basic)-5°c to -14°c (no wind)
Description: Gorgeous day. Typically near the end of winter and end of Sall. Sall is what I call summer here. We really don’t get a hot summer (although as we slip further into a Maritime Climate that can change). I find them to be on the cool side of nice so we have a mix of summer and fall – Sall. Cold enough for no bugs but warm enough to frolic without much layering. The lower end of the spectrum you can wear far less. I can recall being out in just a t-shirt, football jersey and jeans on -5°c days last year. Of course as you get into the double digits I employ a bit more clothing.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), spring jacket. Ball cap or beanie (optional), Runners or hiking boots


The Go To (Extended)-5°c to -14°c (light winds w/wind chill of -19°c or so)
Description: Still a nice day but the winds make the cold a bit more noticeable. It also affects your amount of time outside. For day long excursions you will want to dress in more layers so you can add or remove as your activity level goes up and down. If you’re just doing basic treks then it’s fine to dress lighter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood, spring or fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves (optional), hiking or rain boots


The Go To (Deluxe)-15°c to -23°c (no wind)
Description: Very similar to the weather above but the lack of wind makes it very tolerable to be out for much longer. The air is crisp but doesn’t bite and you can feel a tingle in your thighs if you don’t have light pants on and are out for a long time. However if you layer too much you can certainly start overheating with minimal activity. You encounter days like this typically in October, November, early December and the tail end of winter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, winter boots


The Light Rogue (Basic)-15°c to -23°c (medium winds w/wind chill of -30°c or so)
Description: A lot days in Iqaluit are like this during early and late winter. The wind chill is very noticeable. This is where gentlemen start experiencing Santa beards and moustachsicles and ladies can cut through glass (giggidy). You will have the uncontrollable runny nose no matter what you wear. Your length of time outside dictates how you should layer. Again you do run the possibility of overheating if you layer too much.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (Thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, winter jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Light Rogue (Extended)-24°c to -30°c (light or no winds)
Description: It’s cold but nice. Perfect example of the difference between dry and humid cold. Equivalent (in my opinion) of about -15° or so in the south. If the sun is out it’s gorgeous to just go trooping around or hop on a skidoo. Bear in mind that if you’re snowmobiling treat your wardrobe as if you’re dealing with a serious wind chill because going at moderate to high speeds will generate bitter conditions for exposed skin.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (w/thermal underwear underneath optional) or snow pants, wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner (optional if wearing just a parka), winter jacket or light parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Bear (Basic)-24°c to -30°c (medium to strong winds w/wind chill of -45°c or so)
Description: Okay. Here’s where you start respecting and fearing the cold. Once the wind kicks in at these base temperatures it totally changes the playful wardrobe choices. Now your start bundling to prevent as much wind from touching your skin as possible without turning yourself into an oven. Doesn’t matter if you’re making short treks or long, time to start dressing for the north.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Basic)-30°c and higher (light winds w/wind chill of about -40°c or so)
Description: Once it’s past -30°c in base temperature it’s generally accompanied by SOME kind of wind. Even the slightest winds change the dynamics of the base so much. Not much change in what you should be wearing.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Ho-Lee-Shit)-30°c and higher (strong winds w/wind chill of holy shit)
Description: No. Seriously. No. Unless you’re stuck outside already there’s no reason you should be on foot for any long periods of time in weather like this. When the wind chill is so cold that Fahrenheit and Celsius don’t matter anymore it’s brutal. People can and have died in weather like this so don’t play around with fate too much. If you have to go out, dress as if you might get lost. Better safe than sorry. These are very real temperature you might encounter on a skidoo so be very prepared.

Selected Gear: Snow pants w/thermal underwear underneath, wool socks (possibly doubled based on footwear), t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner, heavy parka, beanie, polar mitts, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles.


The moral of this post is, yes buying artic clothing and gear is highly advisable but no you probably won’t have to use it ALL the time. As you adapt up here you will develop your own style of layering. To each his (or her) own.

It’s hilarious waking down the street on those brutally cold and windy days and not recognizing your closest friends. Everyone is super bundled and looks the same. We’re all united in the freezing cold. I’m sure it’s a neat analogy on life up here if I chose to dig deeper into it.

Maybe another post…

The Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence – A New Iqaluit Tradition & a Sad Farewell

In February of 2011 Suzanne and I decided to host a small get-together for the Super Bowl. We were only a 3 short months into our extraordinary stay here but wanted to do something for our amazing new friends that welcomed us to this city with open arms. I was never the party guru type of guy down south. I was always better at attending parties rather than hosting. I have a passion for food and American football though. The fact that I’m living in the Land of the Puck made the concept of a “Super Bowl” party unrealistic… or so I thought. Nevertheless we executed it and had a pretty sweet time – even though the majority of the people in attendance didn’t know or care about the game.

Super Bowl 2011The positive feedback we received inspired us to “kick it up a notch” and do it again the following year. As fate would have it my team was on a collision course with the Super Bowl so it was imperative that we make the party much more than a gathering. We needed to make it an event. And an event it was. It reminded me of the party thrown in Weird Science. Standing room only in our tiny one bedroom apartment but that didn’t stop people from having a good time. People feasted, imbibed in the sprits and delighted in conversation as the Super Bowl played out. To my amazement, people were actually watching and following the game at some point. Although I didn’t get to see much of the actual game (being locked in the kitchen belting out food deliciousness) it was still a grand experience. As a long time die hard New York Giants fan having the opportunity to celebrate a victory amongst my friends (and stick it to the Patriots fans in the house) was the bee’s knees.

Super Bowl 2012That was where the legend was born. In the days and weeks that followed we started to hear the chatter about the party. People were flabbergasted by the food. Many were scorned from having not been invited after hearing the rumors. Humbling to say the least. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to evolve as much it did in such a short amount of time. A simple love for food and football spawned into a cult phenomenon of sorts. We’re not the kind of people who rest on their laurels so; of course, we had to take the 3rd annual party to yet another level.

It took months of planning and many dollars to pull off but we somehow managed to top what we did last year. How on Earth we managed to fit about 30 people in our place is a mystery that will baffle physicists all over the world. The 3rd Annual Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence featured a super fantabulous food preparation crew (aptly dubbed The Minions) and a spread that literally KO’d every single person. My patented Super Bowl chili was served in large Tim Horton’s coffee cups to further enhance the “tailgate” theme. It marked the first time in my history of making it that there were no leftovers. Absolutely obliterated. Course there were way more people than ever so I guess I’m just gonna have to get a bigger pot. Pulled pork, Muskox sliders, mini tacos, one bite tater skins, mac ‘n cheese, and mozzarella sticks went over well. Pizza puffs, spring rolls and hors d’oeuvres didn’t even get cooked. As always though the deep fried pickles and Jalapeño popper dip drew rave reviews. Receiving praise from our peers about the food makes all the hard work that goes into it that much sweeter.

Super Bowl 2013 #1Super Bowl 2013 #2Speaking of hard work, that brings me to the sobering portion of the festivities. There is a young lady who has gone above and beyond when it comes to not only helping out come party time, but anytime in general. She was the first face we saw when we landed – having never even met before – and has been a mainstay in our lives since. She showed us the ropes on how to live up here. Everyone we know now can be traced back to her directly. She was the guiding light to helping Suzanne get her foot in the door of her trained profession. She has house sat for us on a moment’s notice and even rescued our kitties from a possible fire. Her selfless and unwavering friendship has been an inspiration. It motivates me to be a better friend to my peeps. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also super villain smart and a champion level geek. Everything you could possibly want in a friend.

Sadly this was her last Super Bowl party with us. Soon she will follow the mass exodus of long timers that are leaving the city of Iqaluit. I’m torn by it. Part of me is mourning the loss of a very dear friend but on the flip side I’m ecstatic that she is finally free and gets to be with her beloved husband that she has so rarely been able to be with for the past 5 years. I know deep down it really isn’t “losing a friend”. She’s that special breed of friend that sticks with you for life. It’s just sobering to know that seat at the table will be empty. I still hold out hope that if there is a 4th Annual Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence that she and her hubby will be there, forever lighting up the party with her smile.

Here’s to you Missy. You’re a remarkable person and an even better friend. I’m sure I can speak for the both of us when I say we’re very privileged to have you in our lives.

Missy hard at work

To infinity and beyond!

Third Christmas in Iqaluit

Christmas in Iqaluit is a pretty unique experience. I’ve celebrated Christmas with family and friends in vastly different ways. From time honored family gatherings on Christmas Eve that spilled over onto Christmas day to whirlwind dinner feasts at friends’ homes. Each experience different. Each one memorable.

Two Christmas’ ago we had the pleasure of adding even more new memories to our mental rolodex. To all you young bucks out there a rolodex was a manual device for storing names, addresses and phone numbers. Yeah we didn’t have a microchip to do all the thinking for us back in the days. If you liked someone you had to actually remember their info and write that shit down. Bah… kids these days.

Anyway, back to my old man recollection…

Suzanne and I were introduced to an entirely new and utterly foreign concept of friendship. It was rough going at the start of our tour of duty here. Our prescribed housing had fallen through while we were heading up and we’d be trapped in a hotel for over a month with two, young fur monsters and a good portion of our belongings (that we couldn’t use). 7 days before Christmas we managed to get a grossly overpriced apartment to stay in temporarily. It was our first Christmas here and we hardly knew anyone. The stress of our housing situation coupled with the awe of being in a totally new environment made us feel quite isolated and alone. A very sweet couple invited us over to her place for Christmas dinner. It was a shock to us. We had only known them for less than a month and yet they opened their open to us. There we feasted for hours, talked for even longer, played games, drank the finest alcohol and were introduced to a core group of individuals who today are our closest friends up here today. It was the kind of welcoming community experience you see in sappy made-for-TV holiday movies and made a lasting impression on the both of us.

We were never really the super social types back in the K-dub. We weren’t douches mind you. We had a very small but tight network of friends that we were very dedicated to but we never really went out of our way to welcome new ones into the fold. After that first Christmas in Iqaluit it opened our eyes to the fact that not everyone is “out to get you”. There are legitimately good natured people out there who genuinely care for other people’s well being. People who don’t care about creed, color or sexual preference. People who can just treat people like people. It was a hard concept to swallow at first but after weeks, months and now years of unwavering friendship I am a true believer.

Trust me. I’m not saying Iqaluit is some sort of Utopia. There are bad apples, nutbars and assclowns just like anywhere else in the world. It is a true community though no matter what. A place where people band together during tragedy and help their fellow residents. A place where people go that extra mile to help out friends in need. A place where people will get together and party for the silliest reasons. A place where a cynical African American/Puerto Rican/Italian artist from New York and his sarcastic Polish/German Canadian geographer wife can hang out with a Japanese/Brazilian professional photographer and his Indian R&B singing architect girlfriend on Christmas Eve and sip on egg nog loaded with a generous portion of maple whiskey chilled with ice cubes chiseled from an iceberg while feasting on a traditional Indian style meal.

Only in Iqaluit folks.

Thank you to everyone who has made this the most depressing, stressful, enlightening, mind blowing, unforgettable, humbling, exciting, motivational, joyous, and most of all remarkable time of my life.

Happy Holidays people!

Happy End of the World / Pre-Christmas with a side order of Toga Party 2012!

Happy End of the World / Pre-Christmas with a side order of Toga Party 2012!

Two Years Down…

Ian and I haven’t blogged on here for almost a full year.  Sorry about that.  I guess life’s been keeping us busy.  We’ll try to update with a year-end summary (though, here are some pics in case we fail at that).

But until that happens, you should all know that two days ago marked an important anniversary for us.  That’s right…on November 22, 2010, we began our new life in Iqaluit and I honestly don’t think that either of us knew what was in store for us, or if we’d make it to see two years here.

I’m proud to say that we have.  We’re going into our third winter, about to celebrate our third Christmas in the arctic.  Despite some bumps along the way, we’ve truly prospered personally up here.  It’s been an amazing journey in an amazing place and I don’t think we’d hesitate to do it again.

We’re also now considered to be some of the old-timers up here these days.  Only in Iqaluit, huh?

Skiers on Frobisher Bay, February 25, 2012

Department of Environment IQ Day – Snowmobiling and Ice Fishing northwest of Iqaluit, April 2012

Kobo Town on stage at Alianait Arts Festival, July 2012

Just a typical Iqaluit going away bonfire, July 2012

Suzanne showing off the immense pieces of ice on the tidal flats of Koojesse Inlet, August 2012

The Prince of Monaco visiting the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse, September 2012

Sunrise in Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012

Water and Wind

It’s been an exciting couple of days for Iqaluit.

And by exciting, I mean, no…not really.

First there was the major water main break on Thursday evening near Inuksuk High School.  It caused such a disruption that the city shut down on Friday in an effort to conserve the little water that was left in the reservoirs.  We made national news.  Apparently someone even heard about it in New York City.  Wow!

Water was back to utilidor users by Friday evening, but there’s been a boil advisory since then (which has been lifted as of 1:00 PM EST today).  And those who have their water trucked to their homes are lucky if they still have any – though I’m reading of many people who have run out.  Word was that the water was being tested and the trucks would be out to deliver it to homes that needed it today.

Then…this happened…

Yup…sustained winds of 60 km/hr with gusts up to 80.  The building’s shaking and the ravens are in a tizzy.  On the bright side, at least the temperature’s gone up to -23° C!

So…perhaps it has been an exciting few days in Iqaluit…but nobody said that was a good thing.

Merry Christmas from Iqaluit

Hard to believe this is our second Christmas in Iqaluit.  And while we’re definitely missing all of our friends and family back home in the south, we’re also pretty happy to be here at home.  It’s amazing how quickly one can get used to the quiet and general serenity that seems to settle over this city at certain parts of the year.  Christmas is no exception.  With so many of our friends up here deciding that they’d head out-of-town for the holidays, there’s only a few of us left to hold down the fort.  And that’s fine by us.

We were able to do some last-minute grocery shopping yesterday, and didn’t get trampled in NorthMart.  I have it on good authority that it did get quite a bit busier after we had left, but still – it’s no comparison to trying to even manoeuvre through the city streets in Kitchener-Waterloo anywhere near Christmas Day.  We even went to the post office to check one last time on our mail and drop off a Christmas card to Jordan and the rest of the staff there.

And by the way, we have had Christmas snow since October 1st.  *snicker*

Needless to say, it’s been a relaxing Christmas.  With no one to visit until after Boxing Day, Ian and I have been just taking it easy…phoning relatives (or just about to)…opening some gifts and hanging out with the cats.  Who by the way, have likely eaten an entire bag of Christmas treats already.

We have several engagements to attend to this week…a Norwegian brunch at our friend’s place…a couple of potluck dinners…Christmas games…and then eventually, New Year’s Eve will creep up again.  Haven’t heard anything about fireworks yet, so our plans are still up in the air.

In any case, we hope that all of our friends and family are enjoying as relaxing of a Christmas as you possibly can.  We love you all and miss you dearly.  Hope to talk to you all soon, and then see you sometime in the new year.  Well, perhaps not the new new year…but you know…spring, summer-ish.

Safe travels to you…and Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!

Our wee Christmas tree