Permafrost matters. I had no idea. Living in southern Canada, permafrost was just a word.
Global Warming sounds good to me, I hate winter. Visiting Yukon and the North
West Territories has opened my eyes. Driving on the Dempster Highway north to
Inuvik, one cannot help but notice the road is raised high above ground level. Instead of bridges, most often gravel, several meters thick, crosses the river with huge culverts allowing the water to continue to flow.
I learned that the thickness is used to insulate and ensures that the permafrost
does not melt underneath the road. If it did, the road would sink. The permafrost had to be considered at the airport where the runway is on a gravel base up to six feet thick.
The town of Inuvik is unique. Different from any place I have ever seen. Now, I am not referring to the crazy people who would choose to live in a frozen wilderness. It has to be different. Permafrost or permanently frozen ground brings challenges to the construction industry. Homes are built on “stilts” or pads. Every building is above ground. Air must flow under the house. The warmth of the house must not heat the ground below as this would result in a sinking house. Homes built on stilts used to be very stable. In recent years, homeowners must pay high prices to have their home leveled. This is a result of global warming.
Have you ever given any thought to the town water coming to your house or your sewage
leaving? It is all hidden, out of sight, out of mind. In the subdivision where
I live, we see no hydro lines, no gas lines and I like it that way. I had never heard the word Utilidor. They run behind every house, every business, and every school. Thoroughly insulated and heated in winter, they enclose the gas pipes, the water pipes and yes the sewage pipes. Each home attaches to the Utilidor with a personal utilidette.
They are all raised above ground. Streets have to accommodate this unique way of life by going under or over. Children love to use them as their personal highways, while adults try to come up with ways to discourage them.
Winters are long, very dark and very white. Summers are long and very dusty. It is natural to want to brighten the landscape. Many homeowners and businesses add colour to
the landscape and I love it. There are the Smartie Box houses. There is the “Blueberry
patch”. The hospital does a great job in adding colour.
Another essential to my life is electricity. In the far northern and remote towns, hydro
has to be generated locally. On the edge of town there is a large coal-burning
facility for this purpose.
Gardening brings its own set of problems. The earth is very hard and infertile. The
growing season is short. Inuvik recently built a new public Ice rink and
swimming pool. Rather than tearing down the old one, they had a great idea.
They converted it to a greenhouse and is used as a community garden. Lucky locals plant vegetables and flowers in their personal plot. The very long summer days produce abundant and oversized crops to supplement the high-priced groceries. Did I mention that I paid $4.79 / kg for apples?
We did a lot of walking, which we love. On the edge of town is a lovely little lake with a walking trail around it.
There is an extensive cross-country ski trail network on the edge of town which also doubles as hiking trails. Just a short distance from town is another park. Jak Park has a small lookout tower giving views of the huge Mackenzie Delta.
I love shopping and am always thrilled to poke around downtown. There are a lot of stores showcasing the art of the local people, carvings,
baskets and paintings to name a few. There is also a great little Coffee House.
We thoroughly enjoyed our few days visiting Sarah and Danae. Thank you so much
for having us, for the great dinners. Thanks for the Curry dinner and celebrating your dads birthday. You guys are the best.