The Fallout Cannery

We’ve been making shopping excursions to the NorthMart, Ventures and Quick Stop our entire stay up here but ever since moving to Inuksugait blue we’ve found that trekking down to the shore (even though it’s a relatively short walk) can be a pain in the arse when you got a lot of bags. Sure cabbing it is an option but we’re trying our best not to rely on that too much. The walking is great exercise and besides it helped us cut down on the amount we did end up purchasing.

Anyway, one day while making a pit stop at the Quick Stop, Suzanne mustered up enough courage to ask the girl at the counter where the mythical place known as the Canners actually was. We’d been dreading asking anyone to point us in the right direction for fear of sticking out any further than we already have as n00bs in the area, but curiosity got the better of us. We’d heard so much about their operation since coming up here; their odd hours, cheap prices, and random selections of “mystery freezers” compelled us to find out one way or another. After slapping Suzanne with an “are you kidding me” look the girl smiled and politely told us it was right down the road. I was taken aback. I’ve looked out from our balcony numerous times. I’ve never seen anything that even remotely resembles a convenience store. Only the airport in the distance, the ski-doo shop right next to us and a tiny run down micro-warehouse just down the road.

Wait… I thought to myself… that couldn’t be it, could it?

Appearances definitely can be deceiving.

Oh THERE you are...

Nestled inconspicuously between the Inuksugait blue and the Governor is our new favorite little shop known as Baffin Island Canners LTD (or the Canners by locals). It’s a mom-and-pop type operation that imports a variety of perishable and non-perishable goods and sells them at reasonable prices. Well… as reasonable as a $13 bag of milk is up here. When compared to the $15 – $17 price you find elsewhere it ends up being worthwhile. Truth be told, if you weren’t looking for this place you’d never know it existed. It’s kind of off the beaten path. Not on a main road like most other shops but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get insanely busy. At any given time (during their 8 or so hours of daily operation) you can see a handful of cars loading up boxes upon boxes of goods. I for one had never paid the activity much mind when I think back to the times I looked out at it from where we are. I merely thought it was the every day ins and outs of a little warehouse.

Not too different in some areas...

I remember talking with *Northern Mike a while back about the state of development that Iqaluit was in. He refered to it as the Old West with its unpaved roads, multipurpose buildings, privately owned businesses, small town gossip and community atmosphere. While I totally agree with that assessment, I liken it more to my favorite video game series – Fallout. Those unfamiliar with Fallout it’s basically a post apocalyptic game that takes place a number of years after a World War III nuclear holocaust. The remnants of mankind are strewn out across the wastelands trying to live in the new hostile landscape. Some groups of people establish small communities that have everything from local governments to merchants that sell anything and everything. Nearly every building, shop and dwellings is constructed from the scraps and pieces of the past and nothing is without some kind of value – even the slightest things. It’s all about function over appearance and I think that’s the tie that binds regarding Iqaluit and its infrastructure.

Inviting, eh?

The Canners falls right into that classification. When you approach the building it doesn’t look very inviting. In fact when we first went there I thought we were on like private property and would be kicked off. As you get close to small wooden enclosure protecting the doorway, you can see their store hours. That’s how you know you’re in the right spot. Upon entry the world changes. You go from the desolation of the outside to the bustling activity of a place with far too much business and too little space. There’s not much to the layout. You walk in to a hallway lined with both standing and chest freezers. To the right is their warehouse. No entry there so you’re prompted to head left down the hallway. They have a variety of frozen and refrigerated goods from milk, ice cream and butter, to frozen fruits to an all pork freezer. The offices are at the end of the hallway so you can’t go straight when you reach the end. You can only veer lazily to the right where you end up near the cash registers. If you keep going right though (almost making a 180) you end up in a small room with all kinds of cheeses, fresh fruits and meats as well as breads and vegetables. When you navigate your way around the room you find yourself back at the cashier room again. It too is lined with various types of sundries from pop, toilet paper and cereals to cleaning products and condiments. There are also two more mystery chest freezers marked “Seafood” and “Beef”. There’s no guarantee what will exactly be in there on any given day (meaning what types of seafood and beef) but it’s always fun to just dip in and see what’s available.

On a busy day it can be quite chaotic in there. It reminds me of the Soup Nazi in terms of how you have to know what you’re doing, what you’re getting and where to go. There’s no browsing when it’s busy. You need to go in there with a game plan or you’re definitely going to screw up the natural order of things. All in all it’s a great place to shop. They owners and employees are kind and helpful, the prices are good and for us the distance is awesome. Nothing like literally popping downstairs and getting all your shopping done.

So if you’re new to Iqaluit and haven’t done your homework, try popping on over to the Canners. It’s an interesting experience to say the least.

Baffin Island Canners Ltd.
Ph: 979-6677
Fx: 979-0824

*Northern Mike refers to Mike that helped us get our apartment up here. Since Suzanne has introduced so many Mikes into my life I have to refer to them with different monikers i.e. Uncle Mike, Brother Mike, Little Mike, etc.

Bargains, Traffic and the Great Countdown

Geez. These days are scraping by faster than I like. It’s already Wednesday. No matter though. I’m back once again with a costing edition of the Nunavut updates. We headed to the GTA this past Monday to start our hunt for our outdoor gear. We had priced out some of the apparel a couple weeks ago at a store called Adventure Guide, but Suzanne ended up finding better deals at a wickedly cool outfitter called LeBaron. They have store locations in the GTA  so we figured we’d hit the closer of the two and headed to Mississauga first.

Beware. Here comes the shameless plugging. Their store is insane. If you’re an outdoorsy kinda person this is the place for you. They cover the full gamut from hunting weapons and equipment to outdoor apparel and supplies. They also ship anywhere in the world, except locally (meaning that if you live in an area where they have a store you have to go to the store). We went in with the intention of getting some Expedition style Canada Goose parkas. They came highly recommended by folks who actually live up there and we had tried them on at Adventure Guide so we were pretty much set on what we wanted. Unfortunately available sizes in the Expedition style were lacking so we ended up taking a look at another recommended style called the Resolute. Personally I liked the fit, feel and look of the Resolute more then the Expedition. It’s lighter than the encumbering Snow Mantra style but offers more features then the Expedition (inner & outer pockets, waist tapers, etc). The XXL was far too large for me so I went with an XL. Unfortunately it was the last one left of that size left in black or navy and that size just so happens to be what she wanted as well.  Neither of us were too partial to the attention grabbing red ones available so we were forced to face one another Gladiator style for possession of the last XL.

Just kidding.

Suzanne was actually looking forward to a brown or green parka so she called their other local store to ask if they had any of that style in stock. Thankfully they had quite a variety of colors and sizes at the other store so she asked that they set the brown one aside and we would head to Markham next to pick it up. We signed up with their membership program which gives a 20% discount on everything except the coats (which receive a 10% final sale discount). Either way it’s an awesome deal considering how much all this gear costs so we decided to take advantage of it and purchase some other necessities while we were there.

Suzanne and I tried on some Baffin Impact -100c boots. They’re just about the most moon booty boots I’ve ever seen. You clunk around like Robocop and they add at least another couple inches onto your height. It’s almost like walking in platform shoes. Remarkably though they’re not too heavy so I can’t see getting too worn out having to tromp around in them for extended periods of time. She ended up going for it and snagging a pair up. I on the other hand had fell in love with a pair of -60c Sorel Alpha Pac boots that I scouted at Mark’s Work Wearhouse last week. We were advised to get at least -40c rated boots so these fell well into the target range. Having 100’s would be cool but I think I’ll do just fine with the 60’s. Besides with the 60’s I can make use of my rockin’ wool socks that Nana gave me for Christmas oh so many years ago. It’s as though she knew I’d be needing them. We went with Baffin Polar Mitts for the both of us. Mitts are recommended over fingered gloves primarily because you’re trying to keep your digits as warm as possible and the best way to do that is keeping them close together. She ended up getting plain AuClair glove liners while I went with their HotTips style. We also tacked on Polartec Windstopper Balaclavas (aka face warmers) as well. They rock. Makes you sorta look like an arctic ninja.

After a 20 -25 minute cross town drive to Markham we picked up Suzanne’s jacket and were set to come back home with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately we caught sight of the notorious Ikea sign on the way back and somehow ended up there. An hour later we found ourselves stuck in in Toronto rush hour traffic. Damn you Ikea! For those of you who know about Toronto rush hour traffic, I needn’t say more. However if you don’t know what that means, try to imagine then worst traffic you’ve ever been in… then magnify that by like 100. I swear… that region is like the most congested, convoluted, confusing and frustrating stretch of roads I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how people navigate that zoo on a daily basis. Anyway, rant over. Once the sun was long gone and we were back in the Kitchener region I snagged up my boots. I was lucky enough to have caught them while they were on sale (20% off). Matched with a discount we received from having purchased some thermals the previous week it ended up being a cosmic alignment deal. While it would have been nice to get some pants and goggles as well, finances dictated that we can hold off on that for a bit. Besides the weather isn’t that awful up there just yet according to our inside sources so we can manage without them for the time being. Once the weather takes a turn for the worse then we can get that gear while we’re up there. The word around town is that if you can get your jacket and boots in the South, do it. It’s not so much that it’s super expensive to get them up there (something like maybe $100 more) but the fact that there’s not much of a selection. So if you’re coming up for long term do yourself a favor and get those two key pieces of apparel locally and get the rest (if need be) when you come up.

Let me tell you something, this stuff adds up after a while. Unlike Southern Ontario where you can get away with wearing Gortex jackets and toques, up there it’s a different story. There’s really no option to skimp or go budget on anything so it’s up to you to find the best deals possible. Don’t think in any way, shape or form that we’re trying to flaunt what we got by listing these labels and prices. Truth be told if it wasn’t for the generosity of some family members we wouldn’t have been able to purchase half of this. Our intention is to help others out who have little or no information about the equipment needed for the up there. We were lucky enough to have people who live in the territory (thanks Mark, Andrew & Milissa) who give us first hand information regarding what to and what not to get. We’re simply paying it forward to whoever else may be doing research like we were and looking to make such a trek.

4 more days before the insanity gets cranked up a notch. Can’t wait!

Gear totals:

Resolute Parkas (x2): $1215.00 (before taxes & w/discount)
Baffin Mitts (x2): $95.90 (before taxes & w/discount)
Glove liners (x2): $24.68 (before taxes & w/discount)
Balaclavas (x2): $ 50.32 (before taxes & w/discount)
Baffin -100c rated boots: $136.04 (before taxes & w/discount)
Sorel -60c rated boots: $107.99 (before taxes & w/discounts)
Total: $1629.93 (before taxes)
(Roughly $1750 – $1800 with taxes)