August 9, 2019
Mud popsicles, friendly minke whales, and abandoned hot tubs. All in this week’s newsletter.
Everything tastes better over a campfire, especially in the Yukon. Photo courtesy Ashley Swinton (via Instagram)


Northern photographers take note! Our annual Up Here photo contest is still looking for the best pics of the North to showcase in a special issue next winter (more details here), but there's been some technical snafu with our submission process. While we sort that out, you can email any submissions to

We’re also on the hunt for a new advertising sales executive to join the Up Here team. So if you know of anyone who loves the North and has sales experience, please send them
this link.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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René Fumoleau has died. The photographer, priest, and historian passed away at the age of 93 this past Tuesday. It was his birthday.

Born in France, Fumoleau came to the territory in 1953 as a Catholic Oblate Missionary. Over the next several decades he worked closely with the Dene, documenting their lives and fighting for their rights. He also became a prolific photographer, taking tens of thousands of photographs across the Northwest Territories, most of which were donated to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

In the ’70s Fumoleau worked as a researcher for the NWT’s Indian Brotherhood, eventually authoring a
comprehensive chronicle of Treaties 8 and 11, As Long As This Land Shall Last. Emilie Peacock has an extensive biography over at Cabin Radio, and many more tributes are coming in about a remarkable man.

“Being a priest, you cannot deal with spiritual needs only,” Fumoleau
told Up Here in 1996. “You have to deal with people as they are.” (Various)
Engine #73, pride of the White Pass fleet, on the Fraser Meadows loop. (via WPYR)
There have been some upgrades to the White Pass & Yukon railroad. A year after the line was jointly bought by Carnival Cruise and Survey Point Holdings, two new locomotives are on order and steam engine 73 (a classic 2-8-2 from 1947) is back in service after an 18-month overhaul. Plans are also in place to completely refurbish the line’s 90 passenger cars. (Railway Age)

Pulling “mud popsicles” from NWT lakes could help make mining cleaner. Current methods for measuring baseline metal concentrations in lakes before remediation is, well, damn muddy. Frozen samples, like the kind being studied by Carleton University researcher Tim Patterson, offer up decades of solid data per icy millimetre. (CBC)

“The community that sings together, clings together.” Old Towners will gather this weekend at a fundraising concert for Stephan and Allyce Hervieux, whose houseboat burned down earlier this spring. (Cabin Radio)

Happy 40th birthday to Yellowknife’s Book Cellar. Owner Judith Drinnan opened the city’s only bookshop with an $8,000 loan and no business experience. Four decades later, her store has become a listening post, community space, and an important stage for Northern writers. (Cabin Radio)

High up in Labrador, the town of Rigolet is a wildlife photographer’s paradise. Eldred Allen says that among the seals, eagles, and other animals regularly on display down by the boardwalk recently residents have been charmed by a minke whale who ventures in to feed and splash around only feet from the docks. (CBC)
A ‘grumpus’ (minke whale) puts on a show. (Bird's Eye Inc., via Twitter)

The creator of the NWT’s new caribou rescue plan isn’t too confident the strategy will have any impact. The number of barren-ground caribou has dropped by 85 per cent in the past 30 years, with the once half-a-million strong Bathurst herd now numbering fewer than 10,000. (Cabin Radio)

Whitehorse officials are investigating an abandoned truck, trash, and hot tub that were dumped near Mount Sima. Whoever left the garbage is looking at a meager $300 penalty under the territory's bylaws. Yes, says reporter Chris Windeyer, it's some kind of a “hot tub fine machine.” (CBC)

Muskrat Falls’ opponents gathered for one “last meal” before the hydroelectric project raises water levels in its reservoir and potentially methyl mercury levels in traditional Nunatsiavut food sources. Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe says “the time bomb is ticking.” (Various)

Trudeau’s recent trip to Nunavut was an attempt to sell reconciliation and conservation as a package deal, says Nunatsiaq News. The Prime Minister also engaged in a common election-year tactic of announcing already-promised federal funding as if it was new money. (Various)
The Polar Star breaking ice on a supply run last year. (Nick Ameen/US Coast Guard)


America spends $2 billion a day on the most advanced military force in the world—aircraft carriers, nuclear subs, missile sensors, and orbiting lasers. Then there is the Polar Star. “The only US ship capable of bludgeoning through heavy ice, it is the neglected 43-year-old stepchild of the U.S. military-industrial complex.” (LA Times)

It’s 10 pm on a Friday night in Reykjavik and the Parent Patrol is out. Every weekend doting adults in the city take a two-hour walk checking on youth hangouts in an effort to curb teenage drinking. What’s really helped Iceland’s teens drop from epidemic levels of alcohol abuse to the lowest drinking rates in Europe, though, is municipal investment in sports facilities, music schools, and youth centres. (Associated Press)

Greenland continues to melt beyond all expectations. Last week’s heatwave melted snow at Summit Station (10,000 feet above sea level) for only the third time in the last 700 years. The country’s ice sheet lost 12.5 billion tons of water on a single Thursday. (The Hill

Remember the Odin? The Swedish icebreaker that Cambridge Bay residents Mia Otokiak and Gibson Porter are spending their summer on? It’s now the saviour of lost beluga whale songs. By chance, the icebreaker sailed by a research buoy that was adrift in pack ice and which contained a year’s worth of recordings of narwhals, belugas, and bowhead whales. Researchers in California had been watching helplessly as the expensive buoy drifted in Arctic waters—likely to be crushed by freezing sea ice—before the Odin came to the rescue. (Reuters)
The summer sun on the Dempster Highway. Courtesy Josh and Cass (via Instagram)
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