This summer, two Vancouver Aquarium staffers are visiting communities in Canada’s Arctic. Eric Solomon, director of the Aquarium’s Arctic Programs, and Neil Fisher, Aquarium photographer and videographer, will share their perspectives on people, places and experiences as they learn more about changes taking place in this region. This second installment is written by Neil Fisher.
Having never truly travelled north before, there are many aspects of life in the North that I wasn’t aware of, the perpetual sunlight being one. As a child, I’d hear Robert Service’s poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee, being recited about a prospector’s trip to the Yukon, and his encounters with the “midnight sun,” and I could probably recite the poem for you right now. However, while packing for this trip, that tale must have slipped my mind.
While munching on a roasted chicken at the Dancing Moose café, not far from Ragged Ass Road in Yellowknife, Eric and I started talking about survival equipment. Neither of us brought much, since we’d be staying within communities during this trip. Eric mentioned that he had a whistle and another piece of equipment. I then explained the extent of my survival gear: a flashlight and a knife. As Eric laughed, he pointed out the window at the sky. After a moment of thinking, it was rather obvious: it was close to 10 p.m. and the sun was nowhere near dropping behind the horizon. What good is a flashlight in the Arctic summer when the sun only disappears for a few hours at a time?
Yellowknife was the first overnight stay on the way to Cambridge Bay, and the rocks stood out the most for me. In British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, the rocks that most people are familiar with are steep cliffs, uninhabitable by even the bravest trees, or the rocky peaks of Seymour and Cypress. In Yellowknife, however, rocks are everywhere. Instead of soil and decomposing logs, the ground is rock – and pink rock at that. It may seem totally insignificant to most, but when you’re used to walking through a West Coast forest, having to push your way through neck-high salal, the exposed rock floor of the boreal forest is a welcome change. The pinkish colour of the rock really is amazing by itself, but add a sunset that lasts for two hours and the various shades of pink, and you have a scene that just screams for its photo to be taken.
Enough about Yellowknife; we’ve just arrived to Cambridge Bay, and the landscape and environment is like nothing I’ve seen before. But you’ll have to wait until I get a chance to actually sit down for that update.