August 2, 2019
Gargantuan rhubarb grows under the midnight sun, Whitehorse’s restaurant scene explodes, and Yukon Dan goes for gold at the world gold panning championships.
Boys and a dog on the shores of Qikiqtarjuaq. Courtesy of Miali Aliqatuqtuq


“Do we get a satellite phone?” one of us asked the floatplane pilot who had just dropped off a group of inexperienced Northerners and their out-of-town visitors at the appropriately named City Boy Lake. No, was the curt reply. What if someone got hurt? What if the boat capsized? Or there was an emergency?

“You guys wanted a wilderness experience.” 

That we did! And it was a great time, even if myself and former Up Here editor Jeremy were out-fished by our southern guests. 

But now it's August. Summer may not yet be over but we're all back to work at the office and heavy into production on the 35th-anniversary issue. So let's get to the newsletter, eh?

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Tuvaijuittuq (“the place where the ice never melts”) is Canada’s newest marine protected area, providing salvation for Arctic wildlife off the north coast of Ellesmere Island.

Justin Trudeau was back in Iqaluit this week to
announce the news. The designation bans human activities in the area for the next five years while still allowing Inuit hunting and fishing.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the governments of Canada and Nunavut collaborated on the 332,000 square-kilometre interim protected area. A five-year feasibility study will look at permanently protecting the waters from future threats. Combined with the Tallurutiup Imanga conservation area in Nunavut’s northeast, that’s a combined 427,000 square kilometres of protected marine geography—larger than Newfoundland and Labrador. It also means Canada has
surpassed its 2020 target of protecting 10 per cent of the country’s marine areas.

Finally, some good news after months of wildfires, melting glaciers and thawing permafrost, says WWF Canada. 

“This deal will turn Tuvaijuittuq into one of the world’s largest conservation areas while also supporting local food security, infrastructure, and employment needs,” writes senior Arctic conservation advisor Paul Okalik in a statement.

The thickness of the multi-year pack ice where Tuvaijuittuq is located could serve as a final refuge of sorts for species like narwhals, polar bears, and belugas whose natural habitats are gradually dismantled by climate change. (Various)

Who needs Uber when you've got a bushplane? (Courtesy of my vacation)

The NWT is cracking down on commercial wildlife photography. Inuvik photographer Kristian Binder was surprised to get a call from the government after posting online some drone footage of a grizzly bear. The helpful public employee issued a reminder that any commercial photography requires a (free) permit from the territory. It's a rule that's been in place, though not well communicated it seems, since 2014. The aim is to ensure some regulation of professional photographers and documentarians from disturbing wildlife. Nature explorers snapping pics for personal enjoyment don’t need the permit. (CBC)

A new book about an Inuk residential school survivor from Atlantic Canada has become a smash hit in Poland. The 27 Deaths of Toby Obed, by author Joanna Gierak-Onoszko, has only been out for six weeks and has “already been hailed as the best or the most important non-fiction book in Poland this year.” (CBC)

“The airplane is supposed to make its first flight in little more than 24 hours. But the vacuum system is still erratic, the right propeller needs a new seal, and two com radios hang by their wiring harnesses from the cockpit’s overhead panel—among countless other tasks screaming for attention.” Read all about Buffalo Airways general manager Mikey McBryan and his Plane Savers quest to revive a historic DC-3 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AOPA)

Arctic adventurer Jerry Kobalenko has had 13 encounters with polar bears. Not a dozen. Not 15 or so. Thirteen.The precise number reflects the fact that you never forget one of these encounters, any more than you’d lose track of the number of avalanches you’ve survived. (Explorers Web)

Arlene Hache has announced her candidacy for Yellowknife Centre in this fall’s territorial election. It’s the fifth time Hache will try for political success. The Order of Canada recipient and women’s rights activist was profiled with other founders of the Yellowknife Women’s Society last December by Elaine Anselmi as our Northerners of the Year. (Up Here)

More restaurants have opened in Whitehorse in the last year than in the past six. Julien Gignac looks at the Yukon capital's rapid transition from an undefined food scene to a culinary culture bursting at the seams. Just in time for the Yukon Culinary Festival this weekend, too. (Yukon News)

A five-day mountain hike through the Chilkoot Trail sounds like a terrible first date idea, at least to me. Whitehorse resident Tess Astley and Edmonton's Lory MacKenzie feel differently. “The weirdest thing is just how much you talk for those five days,” Astley tells CBC about her adventurous first date. “I feel like I knew Lory for months when really I had just met him.” (CBC)
Celebrating the Inuvialuit Final Agreement 35 years ago. (Courtesy IRC)
Also celebrating a 35th anniversary this year? It's the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, otherwise known as Northern Canada’s first comprehensive land claim settlement. We’ll have some more on the agreement’s history in our September issue, but for now, enjoy the above photo that the IRC provided of 1984’s post-signing celebrations in Inuvik. (Cabin Radio)

Since the Cold War, space has been the place for co-operation between Arctic superpowers, with Canada playing a big part. Michael Byers has this special on the cold, the dark, the dangerous, “the connection between the Arctic and outer space.” (Globe and Mail)

Coburg Island in the high Arctic is home to a bird sanctuary, abandoned government research station, and a plethora of fuel drums. The Nirjutiqarvik Area Co-Management Committee is set to begin cleanup of all that refuse over the next month. Not an easy task on a tiny island 100 kilometres east of Grise Fiord. (CBC)

Teenage girls are fighting back against an alien invasion in Slash Back, the first feature film shot entirely in Pangnirtung. Filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk and a crew of 50 are currently in production on the sci-fi flick. Logistically, that poses some challenges in a town of only 1,500. The team had to fly in 50 beds just to accommodate the crew. (CBC)

Yukon Dan is Canada's man at the World Gold Panning Championships in Finland next week. But Yukon Dan isn't from the Yukon. Tsawwassen, BC resident Dan Moore recently took home the $2,000 grand prize at the Dawson City panning competition. This will be his 18th world panning championship and while he's yet to bring home the global gold, so to speak, Dan does have high hopes this year because he'll be using a special golden gold-panning pan to pan for gold. (Delta Optimist)
Henry D. Clark, Alaska's "Rhubarb King." (Atlas Obscura)


How did Alaska become home to humongous rhubarb? Atlas Obscura traces the roots back to Henry D. Clark, known around Skagway in the early 20th Century as “the Rhubarb King.” Luckily for Clark, the sour plant's stalks took a shine to Alaska's chilly climate. “To the awed delight of early Alaskan farmers, not only does rhubarb like the cold, but it grows to monstrous size under the midnight sun.” (Atlas Obscura)

Talking climate change and gender equality over ice cream with Iceland’s prime minister. Time Magazine goes on a Ísbíltúr (AKA an Icelandic road trip to get ice cream) with Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir. (Time)

Another Into the Wild pilgrimage has ended in death. Recently a 24-year-old Belarusian woman died trying to reach the abandoned bus where Christopher McCandless also famously met his end. “This second death will likely renew the conversation about whether or not to remove or destroy the bus,” writes Eva Holland. “But it’s just as likely, given the remote location and the costs involved, that nothing will change this time, either. Twenty-seven years after McCandless’ death, his story continues to capture the imaginations of young people—many of them, now, not even born yet when he died. It’s hard to squelch that kind of emotion.” (Outside)
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