November 1, 2019

Who benefits from northern art? Plus, Miles Canyon needs a new name, a recipe for moose meatballs, and a Finnish sauna in Uganda.

Don't be fooled by an ermine's deceivingly fuzzy cuteness. (via Pixabay)


We just had a style guide conference last week to codify some internal grammar and spelling rules across Up Here's two magazines. It went much smoother than I expected. I was anticipating hours of debate about the plural spelling of “aurora,” or whether someone goes in the Barrenlands or on the Barrenlands. ("Auroras" and "aurorae" are technically right, though no one up here would say either, or so I'm told). 

How about "outside?" Is that a term you've heard used by Northerners (capital "n") before? I'm told it refers to places outside Alaska and the territories. Got any others? I'm fascinated by this sort of local lexicological stuff so if you know of any particular favourite spellings, sayings or neologisms, feel free to send them my way. Maybe we'll turn it into an ongoing column in the magazine. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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This month’s cover story is now online. Jessica Davey-Quantick looks at the history of how northern art has been used to define Canada around the globe and asks, are Northerners getting the recognition and support they deserve at home? (
Up Here)

In a single summer season, more than half a century of accumulated glacial ice on Meighan Island in the High Arctic trickled away. What will happen when Canada’s Arctic glaciers vanish? We’ll find out very soon, says the Globe. (Globe & Mail)

It’s time to change the name of Miles Canyon, says Yukon MLA Liz Hanson—a beautiful landmark, named after a dead American general who never set foot in the North. Army lieutenant Frederick Schwatka named the canyon in the 1880s after his boss, Nelson Miles. Miles was a US general who led many of the army’s violent attacks on Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains. (CBC)

Elsewhere in northern nomenclature, the Yellowknives Dene community of Dettah has had its name officially misspelled for the past 48 years. Two t's, not one. Walter Strong has a fantastic deep dive into the local history at the link. (CBC)

Nunatsiavut’s government will install the largest solar (panel) system ever put into Labrador atop the Makkovik Arena. With an average of 269 days of sunshine a year, it’s hoped the new system could offset 14,000 litres of diesel annually. (The Telegram)

Fossils suggest ancient rhinos and turtles once roamed the Yukon. I would love to see more government press releases on scientific discoveries. (Yukon Government)

There’s a new Facebook group from CBC collecting recipes of the North, including this delicious story about moose meatballs. (CBC)

They’re deadly. They’re adorable. Ermines are the stone-cold cuddly killers of the North. (Yukon News)

If you stand on the Kuujjuaraapik beach on the coast of Hudson Bay, your feet are in Quebec. “But if you dip your toes in the frigid water, they are now in Nunavut,” writes Elaine Anselmi. While some shorelines are eroding due to permafrost thaw and rising sea levels, “Nunavik is literally gaining ground.” (Nunatsiaq)

Even the cleanup of the Yukon’s abandoned Faro mine will pollute the territory. Remediation plans for the contaminated site will jump Yukon’s CO2 emissions by a whopping 31 per cent. (CBC)

A new documentary delves into the NWT’s worst wildfire season on record. Jeremy Emerson’s film, Summer of Smoke, follows one family during the summer of 2014, when more than three million hectares of woods went up in flames. The documentary screens as part of next week’s Yellowknife International Film Festival. (Cabin Radio)

Loud, unexplained howling noises were putting residents in Whitehorse on edge earlier this week, just before Halloween. Some compared the wailing to a “very drunk owl” while others went with “mechanical goose repeatedly honking.” Turns out it was a partially-open spill gate. Sorry, no ghosts. (CBC)

25,000 women gathered in Reykjavik for the Women’s Strike on October 24, 1975. (Icelandic Women’s History Archives)


It was the day women brought Iceland to a standstill: 25,000 women (about 90 per cent of the country’s female population) refused to show up for work on October 24, 1975 to illustrate their importance to Iceland’s economy. You can find a history of the labour movement at the link. (Jacobin)

A Finnish couple has built a sauna from eucalyptus trees in Entebbe, Uganda—where the annual average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius. "Even if we [Finns] went to the desert, we would still build a sauna in there.” (BBC)

Pacific Pete,” a wooden statue of a plaid-clad lumberjack that stood on the Alaska Highway for decades, was destroyed this week after someone shot a flare gun at neighbouring Halloween decorations. (Alaska Highway News)

An algae called Alexandrium produces a neurotoxin so deadly that a single sand-sized grain can kill eight people. Shellfish poisoned with this paralytic used to be a rare occurrence, back before the oceans were warming. But on Popof Island in western Alaska, within two generations the problem has gone from something no one had to think about to a year-round plague that’s killing millions of seabirds. (The Atlantic)

The “cold rush” for iceberg water is luring high-end start-ups and adventurous investors to the Arctic, all of them rushing to cash in on an unregulated market of frozen luxury waters. (The Atlantic)

Why does the Arctic have more plastic than most other places on Earth? (National Geographic)
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