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…

Advertisements

Movin’ On Up

I’m quite certain that Ian mentioned that we’ve recently passed our six months in Nunavut milestone.  It’s kind of strange, considering it feels like we’ve been here for a year and a half, but not in a bad way.  We miss our families greatly, but have had several Skype events with both sides of the family.  Oh, and if anyone is interested in Skyping with us…or any other video chat you might use…please let us know.  We love seeing friends!

So the six month milestone meant a couple of things.  One, our dental plans have kicked in.  Yay!  And two, if we didn’t have the good fortune of subletting from a contractor without an employee to fill the apartment, we would have been homeless.  Or living out of a hotel.  Neither of which are good options living in a city such as Iqaluit.

We wanted to hold back on releasing this exciting news until the ink dried on the lease, but the lease isn’t ready yet.  And since we’ve already seen the unit, and have several pieces of e-mail correspondence confirming it’s ours, we feel we can make the announcement.

We finally have a permanent apartment of our own to rent!  No one will kick us out at a moment’s notice.  No more subletting.  It’s ours!

Yup. After so many years of apartment living, we finally have the top floor!

So, Ian’s already been making preparations by starting to take furniture down, pack items into crates that we have, and assemble new cardboard boxes so we can pack up more.  Best part about the new place?  It’s in the same building!  The implication there?  Well, remember I already live in the same building I work in?  Yup…the door partially obscured by the minivan is the main door to my office.  Sweet!  I may just install that fire pole after all.

Now we just have to move up one floor to the other side of the elevator/stairwell.  Should be a pretty sweet move, and we’re hoping to make it pretty casual.  Still, if anyone up here is interesting in helping out, we wouldn’t turn it down.  And thanks to Missy’s most recent trip down south, we now have some chocolate and cheese for a wicked fondue party once we’ve settled in.

 

Speaking of settling in, Jemaine's already made a bed of one of the moving boxes. Hope that one's packed already. We likely won't get it back anytime soon...

 So in honour of our grand move, I thought I’d analyze a very familiar theme song for us all.  Sing along if you know the words.  And since I’m posting the lyrics for the analysis…you will.  😉

Well we’re movin on up to the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Technically true.  We’re sort of on the southwest side right now.  We’re moving to the sort of northeast side.  I’m probably wrong.  Yeah, I know…I’m a geographer so I should probably figure it out.  I just haven’t really attempted to orient myself with the way our building is situated.

Movin on up to the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

A piece of the real estate pie?  Yes please!

Fish don’t fry in the kitchen, beans don’t burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin’ just to get up that hill.

Well, we haven’t fried much fish in the kitchen…though there is a large arctic char in the freezer still.  And we never did fire up the grill on the balcony – didn’t have much faith in the fuel source.  But sure did take a whole lotta tryin…

Now we’re up in the big leagues gettin’ our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby, there ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Yup yup.  And happy to be here.

Well we’re movin on up to the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up to the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Or fondue.  🙂

An Early Christmas Present

We have a home!  We are moving into a new apartment in about 10 hours, and while it may still be a temporary residence, it is a home nonetheless.  Things are starting to feel a wee bit more permanent as the days go by.

We have a PO Box now (thanks Jordan!).

We shall soon have a phone number and internet service.  Which is sort of why I’m bringing this up here.  Ian and I will be offline for a few days from home.  I may be able to provide some updates, but since it’s doubtful as we’ll have lots to do, we may not be updating the blog for the next little while.  We have loads of pictures to upload, so hopefully those will hit the Photobucket album before we move so you can all have some new stuff to look at in the meantime.  We hope to be back for Christmas, but just in case we’re not…

We wish all our friends, family and random readers that pop by the happiest of holidays – whatever you celebrate.  Be safe out there – we want to see you all when we get back!

Days Go By

Our new (temporary) digs

Ian has been saying to me that it won’t feel real up here until we have a place to live.  Until then, things feel like a vacation.  And although it’s been pretty much a working vacation for us, I feel the same way.  However we’ve certainly been feeling more at home here – especially since we moved from our very crowded studio suite to our much larger and very comfortable one bedroom suite here at the Capital Suites.  I highly recommend this place if you’re planning on visiting Iqaluit for any length of time.  True, hotel accommodations are not inexpensive, but this is probably one of the less costly locations.  If you’re here for an extended amount of time, a full kitchen certainly helps keep food costs down as well.  As Ian and I well know, eating dinner out at least once a day is not only pricey, but frustrating.  Though I have to say that I’m sure the restauranteurs appreciate the business.

Needless to say, a bigger place means that Ian and I don’t have to trip over each other.  Wait, let me correct myself.  It means that Jemaine doesn’t have to trip everyone up when we’re walking around.  Of course, it doesn’t mean anything, because he still sits right under Ian almost all the time when I’m at work, and follows both of us around when he’s not cowering in fear of our parkas under the couch.  I don’t ask to have strange cats…it just happened.

Merry Christmas in four languages at the Legislative Assembly

Our Christmas tree (at least until we have our own place)

Over the past couple of weeks, things have definitely been transforming into the traditional winter wonderland for Christmas.  There is a Christmas decorating contest in town, and if I recall correctly, the winner could possibly win a return ticket to Ottawa.  That’s a huge deal with a return ticket can cost you $1500.  It’s kind of funny how most draws and raffles also lure ticket buyers with this same technique – the return airfare to Ottawa seems to be a welcome prize for most Iqalummiut.  It’s also been nice to see that the Capital Suites has decided to decorate, since we will not be able to do that until we have our own apartment – and our stuff from down south!

This past Saturday was a nice change for us too – we got to check out a craft fair at Inuksuk High School.  Well, we would have been able to check it out if I didn’t think it was running 10 AM to 2 PM instead of 10 AM to 12 PM.  We made it there right around noon, and luckily some vendors were still hanging around.  We missed most of the arts and crafts unfortunately, but there were some food vendors still around.  We got some good advice from one of the vendors – whenever you have the chance to buy homemade goods in Iqaluit, take it!  It’s not that often that you can find baked goods for such reasonable prices…and they’re oh so good!  Ian and I made off like bandits with two bricks of mozzarella cheese – one stuffed with dill, the other with horseradish, snowballs (coconut-covered cocoa goodies), and a huge cherry pie.  Surprisingly, the cherry pie has lasted until today – that’s five days if you’re counting – and if you know me at all, you know that’s pretty darn good.  Cherries are my weakness.  So I’m about to go put that pie out of its misery right about now.

Nom! Nom! Nom!

The Day Happy Ian Went Away

Yes it’s 3pm Saturday November 20th and I’m still blogging. I’m sitting here in the corner of our empty living room munching on a ham & cheese sammich that AC made for me, chugging down what’s more than likely one of the last pops I’ll be having in a long while – least till I find my hook up in Iqaluit. Yes I’m a popaholic and like any true addict I’ll find my fix one way or another up there. I’m looking at the few Rubbermaid bins laying around with various wares in them and am kinda taken aback at how easy the packing and moving went yesterday.

Wilke Movers Ltd came knocking on our door promptly at 8am. The three man crew of fellas (whose names I can’t quite remember) flew through our apartment in a flurry of packing paper and cardboard cartons. They were so bloody quick that for most of the morning Suzanne and I were on our toes trying to keep them from packing some things we wanted to have on hand away. They seemed somewhat unchallenged by the packing job put before them and often asked us several times if we were sure there wasn’t anything else they could bag and tag. Their zealous approach allowed them to have most of our life boxed up in about 3 hours. They finished early and bid us good luck up north. It was 11:45am and they said the movers probably be around at 12:30pm. We thought we’d have a little bit of time to do some last minute sorting but lo and behold, as the clock tolled 12pm the movers arrived full of life and ready to do some heavy lifting.

Once again we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off as the movers scurried in and out of our apartment like little worker ants. There were pleasantly thorough with their inventory cataloging and care for our stuff.  Poor Suzanne couldn’t witness the controlled chaos of the movers firsthand because she had to make a last minute dentist’s office visit. Let’s just say that she took longer getting her teeth worked over than it took for them to load the truck. Our modular existence made our move insanely quick. They were handing me the papers by 2pm. She returned home at around 3:30pm all drugged up and achy and we took the foot off the gas a bit and worked at a snail’s pace sorting the little amount of belongings we had left. We had an engagement set up for 8pm with some friends, but the stress of the day of moving caught up to us big time. Although running on little sleep and even less food we weren’t about to let our adoring friends down.

I have to admit. It wasn’t quite how I expected my last Friday night in Ontario to be. I feel rotten for being the crap on the shoe near the tail end of the evening, but as the night progressed (or devolved from my point of view) I slipped further and further into a grimy and unpolished mood. I certainly wasn’t my normal chipper self. You know how you sometimes have to put on the smile even when you’re really not in the mood to, just to not disturb the flow of the evening? Well my ability to do so came to a crashing stop at roughly 11:30pm. Having started the festivities at a bar… no correct that… a good ole boy watering hole I should have know a tailspin was imminent. It was apparently “hip hop night” in the redneck bar which I found to be painfully ironic. Even though it was deemed “hip hop night” I think I heard maybe 3 or 4 actual hip hip songs in the short time we were there. I suppose that was a blessing in disguise considering I’m one of those blasphemous black people who doesn’t care for hip hop all too much. Being the only person of color in there though (and an inescapable New Yorker for life) let’s just say my radar was on uber-sensitive. After witnessing some of KW’s drunken finest on the dance floor and mowing through a pretty sad batch of nachos, I was pleased to see another brutha show up. Unfortunately he didn’t seem too thrilled to be there either. The conversations at our table centered around work, the people at work and the experiences at work. The problem was I didn’t work there. These were my wife’s work friends so I was kind of in smile-and-nod mode while I nursed my Blue. Don’t get me wrong. I dig my wife’s work friends and love them to death but when they get into chatty-office-talk mode, I end up tuning out and drifting off into Ian’s make believe world.

Anyway, no one was really having a great time at the roadhouse so the entourage decided to pick up camp and move the party to another location. Word of advice for people out there who have friends who like karaoke. Do not go with the flow if that’s not your bag. They won’t take offense and you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of pain and torture in the process. I should have taken my own advice. Maybe it was the fact that I was over-tired or maybe I was just so desperate to hang out with them that I went along with the crowd like a silly little lemming. We ended up at yet another local dive called The Corner Pub. Yes… it’s actually on the corner of Charles street and Ottawa. I’ll openly admit it wasn’t nearly as bad as the other place. In fact it was quite cozy, welcoming and friendly. I’ve never been one for the bar scene anyway so I went in with a chip on my shoulder. Add to the fact that it was karaoke night, that spelled the untimely death of Happy Ian. Karaoke is Japanese for tone deaf. Did you know that? Despite some rather surprising performances by Jimmy and Laura, my night was spent listening to the unmerciful massacring of good songs by the locals. Once again work-talk followed us all the way from the roadhouse and continued at the Corner Pub. Jimmy, my only source of non-work related conversation, was too busy making new friends and showing off his vocal talents so I just sat there watching muted hockey on the big screen.

Did I ever mention how much I LOVE hockey?

Anyway the night pretty much ended with me throwing in the towel and heading back to AC’s house for the night with Suzanne. I felt bad being the stick in the mud but I was totally out of my element. I recall sitting there most of the night wondering what the cats were doing back at home. It’s sad that I probably would have had a better time in the empty apartment with the cats than I did at those lovely bars. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing though. It was great seeing everyone one last time and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. I’m just sorry I was such a downer for most of the evening.

Oh well… guess I better get back to sorting again. Just wasted yet another hour proofreading the dang thing. ;p

Everything must go!

We were visited by a rep from the moving company on Monday. We gave her a walk-through of the house and let her know what we were taking with us (on the plane) and what we wanted shipped up. In the end she was surprised at how little we had to actually bring (despite the mountains of clutter she bore witness to). We’re allotted something like 6000 lbs (that includes packing materials) but we fell way under that at barely a guesstimated 1400lbs. We were also astonished at how much they’d actually pack themselves. She suggested that we let them do it because then our stuff will be covered under their insurance as opposed to if we packed it up ourselves. We’d only be covered if there was visible damage to the boxes themselves (and even then it would be a minimum) so that was kind of a no-brainer.

With the load of having to do heavy duty packing off our shoulders we were forced to deal with an old but persistent problem – the crap we’re supposed to get rid of. I spent the past couple of weeks boxing, bagging and tagging a good portion of the stuff we’ll be putting into storage. That was the easy part. Seven bags of garbage and four mega loads of recycling later we still have tons of crap to get rid of. Our ultimate plan was to either pitch a good portion of it or bring it down to the local goodwill & second hand stores.

But then I had an idea… albeit a bit late…

Virtual Online Garage Sale

Why give things away or dump them when you can make a buck off them? It’s the North American way. Sure charity and goodwill are good for the soul but it won’t pay the bills or keep us warm up there. There is an online classifieds site I use often to get rid of things locally. It’s called Kijiji. It’s similar to Craigslist in a lot of ways. Since we have so many things to offload and I didn’t feel like making individual ads for each thing I decided to employ my web design know-how to make a bare bones web page with all the  for sale items on and and use Kijiji as our starting referral point. There was a small fee involved with posting a link from there to our site but it was a worthwhile investment. Hopefully we’ll get some bites and get some of this stuff offloaded during Hell Week.

8 Days Later…

Can you spot the helper in the picture?

So we’re a little over a week into packing and I’ve hit the wall regarding what to do next. We’re in an interesting conundrum where we want to pack the stuff we’re taking up with us initially, but we don’t want to pack the things that will be shipped up because if we leave that in the hands of the movers, it’s insured by them. I’ve been stuck in the Basement of Doom sorting, chucking and packing for the past 7 days. I was granted a day of release for our anniversary Sunday but for the most part that was my world. The children tried their best to help out in their own special way but that only resulted in the eating of and playing in boxes. I swear… I don’t know what Jemaine’s fascination with eating tape is but that’s apparently his thing. They do help break up the monotony though. I find it amusing how they don’t care about anything down there until I go and start working. Then it’s the bee’s knees.

 

Anyway, at the top of the week the basement looked like a bomb hit it. I was in my own personal 20′ x 10′ post apocalyptic wasteland. I evaded booby traps, solved riddles, slayed some beasts and eventually got the basement sorted…

Not everything is as it seems...

I know. It doesn’t look like anything has been done, but wait! Through the magic wonders of Photoshop I shall reveal to you how much was actually done…

We're actually not keeping much.

Behold. Everything that isn’t highlighted is either getting sold, tossed or given away leaving us with not much to fuss over. Even the stuff that’s highlighted has be to sub sorted into what we’re bringing (be it shipping or taking on the plane) so in the end I think we’re in good shape so far. Mind you it’s just the basement junk. The bedroom, kitchen, living room and storage room is another story and brings me back to my initial quandary. I may dip into the kitchen today and arrange a care package of cookware, utensils and dishes for our initial journey up and let the movers do the rest. Maybe I’ll start sorting my tools in the storage room as well.

Bah… too much to ponder. I’ll play it by ear for today. I need the boss to make some final decisions on a lot of stuff so we can move forward with some more packing. Maybe I’ll start cooking up our supply list. Lord knows we’re gonna need it…