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Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Last Igloo (Northwest Passage, part 2)

The American Free Press reports on the last igloo in Canada ... this is an excerpt:

Canada's last igloo to be flattened amid Arctic boom

by Michel Comte Fri Aug 17, 3:47 AM ET

IQALUIT, Canada (AFP) - The last igloo in Canada's far north, which housed a family restaurant for 27 years, is set to be demolished to make room for offices, amid a flurry of economic activity in the remote Arctic.

Purchased in May by an Edmonton-based hotel operator, the Kamotiq Inn restaurant is to be replaced in the coming months by a 4,645 square-meter (50,000 square-foot) office building.

The eatery at the main "Four Corners" intersection of Iqaluit, just 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, is the only extant example of modern igloo architecture, inspired by the igloo shape and popularized in the 1950s and 1960s, in the North.

It was actually built in 1980 by two schoolteachers with the help of local townsfolk out of normal building materials. The couple was fascinated by the "igloo shape," said Suzie Michael, a former student who pitched in, hammering nails and painting the exterior.

"When I was growing up, I lived in (snow) igloos and it reminds me of that life," said her father, Inuit elder Simonie Michael, savoring Arctic char for lunch.

He has eaten here almost every day since it opened, enjoying "the warm hospitality, the food and the beer," and would like it to remain, he said.

But restaurant manager Brian Czar, who will soon be out of a job, told AFP: "Times are changing. The North is opening up, the city is growing and there's a growing demand for real estate in Iqaluit."

Indeed, an international rivalry has heated up as global warming opens up the vast Arctic to economic activity.

Scientists predict the famed Northwest Passage could be ice-free for shipping year-round by mid-century, cutting sea travel from London to Tokyo by 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).


Oil and mining companies, meanwhile, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Arctic exploration.

Soon, forestry companies are expected to follow the Boreal Forest creeping north.

Cruise ships are multiplying, allowing tourists to see polar bears and the spectacular break-up of Arctic ice each spring.

As well, the establishment of Canada's Nunavut territory in April 1999, splitting lands from the Northwest Territories to settle an aboriginal land claim, created thousands of government jobs in its new capital, Iqaluit, doubling its population to 7,000.

For the first time, the North's population has topped 100,000, according to the latest census in 2006.

Outside the Kamotiq Inn, newer Suzuki Vitaras, Ford F150s and Honda Civics zip along pot-hole peppered roads.

Cars are relatively new to Iqaluit. A decade ago, there were only a handful of taxi cabs here, ferrying visitors.

But the influx of people has driven new vehicle sales, to replace dog sleds and snowmobiles.

Now, for five minutes every morning and evening, gridlock slows traffic on the only two paved roads in town, and dozens of gravel lanes, as workers drive from home to work and back.

The town council is considering erecting the first traffic lights in Nunvavut, at the "Four Corners" intersection to ease drivers' rage.

On the outskirts, meanwhile, tents have been erected to house newcomers in summer, amid a housing shortage.

New home construction has been unable to keep up with demand because there are too few sealifts to bring in building materials in warmer months, when Frobisher Bay is clear of ice.

I must go and do something now to perk up my spirits. My spirits right now are very mad and sad. :-(

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At 9:45 PM, Blogger McBlogget said...

Gee, isn't that just a geodesic dome?


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