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Published: August 4th 2018
Thule winter houses with a walrus skull at the entrance.
"The Thule people told me that my ship was alive, and wondered what kind of animal it was. I assured them that it was not an animal - but the Thule did not believe me, as they had saw its wings move…" From William Parry’s journals as he searched for the fabled Northwest Passage.
Many early accounts of the native inhabitants that lined the shores of what is now Canada’s Arctic, tell stories of ‘savages’ and ‘animals’. These primitive people lived on raw meat, lived in houses of bone and seal skins, they were hostile and spoke a language like no other language…
The Thule are gone, although their modern-day descendants live on in the northern reaches of this frozen region. Scattered along the shores of Somerset Island are many Thule sites, and over the past few weeks we’ve been exploring the many fascinating sites on this island and discovering more about these mysterious people that we know so little about.
Their lives would have been tough - moving with the seasons to find food. Most of their lives would have been spent near the ice, the perfect place to find marine mammals.
The winter houses at Cape Anne were particularly interesting.
The aged bones and lichen covered stones told us that they once flourished here.
I gazed to the horizon and tried to imagine what life for the Thule would have been like.
From the clues of bone and stone - I
Thule tent rings
At the base of an impressive ridge.
pieced together an image…
It was a beautiful life… Harsh, yet beautiful...
“A time will come in later years when the Ocean will unloose the bands of things, when the immeasurable earth will lie open, when seafarers will discover new countries, and Thule will no longer be the extreme point among the lands.” Seneca.
The stark landscapes and subtle colours have a mesmerizing quality.
The abundance of elbow room is staggering.
The sharp dagger-like rock on the ground has chewed my boots.
The wildlife is raw and untamed - it's been a good year for anything with four legs. Feathers too...
Snow banks are still lingering as the month begins
Sea-ice flows through the saltwater channels in broken chunks and pile up on the shore.
Tundra is changing colour - the autumn is here.
Yet the sun is still above the horizon for 24 hours per day.
Our adventures over the past few weeks have yet again taken us to some far flung places and rarely visited sites.
Flying in small aircraft to Creswell bay for some fly fishing, then buzzing Devon Island and Radstock Bay with aerial views of empty shores.
Walking on the lonely gravel expanse on Beechey Island, absorbing the final resting place of several early explorers.
Getting vehicles stuck in the mud.
vehicles that were stuck in the mud - in the company of a Savannah Sparrow - 10 degrees of latitude north of where they are normally seen.
What was that sparrow doing?
"Beyond the north, the ice, the everyday, Beyond death, at a remove Our life, our happiness Neither on land, nor on sea Will you find the hunter who leads To us, hyperboreans, About whom also A wise mouth has prophesied.” Friedrich Nietzsche, poems.
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