Ice-Fishing Shack No Ark for Noah as Sea of Life Destroys

By Bowkett, Roy | Anglican Journal, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Ice-Fishing Shack No Ark for Noah as Sea of Life Destroys


Bowkett, Roy, Anglican Journal


My friend Noah recently asked me if I had some spare plywood. I told him that I had a small quantity which I had salvaged from the reconstruction of the local high school and I inquired why he needed the plywood sheets. He replied that he was building a new halibut shack.

I knew he was an avid fisherman who took part in commercial fishing in the rich grounds of Cumberland Sound, so I expressed surprise that he didn't already have a shack.

"The ice took it," was his answer. I knew the rest of the story.

Each winter, from January to May, men of the hamlet of Pangnirtung live for days at a time on the sea-ice of Cumberland Sound.

By sled and skidoo they have hauled their eight-by-10 foot woodframe huts a distance of 100 km. Now the shacks are securely anchored. Ropes are slung over the roof, holes have been hacked in the ice into which the end rope-coils nest, and the hole is filled with water. Within five minutes there is a coating of ice on the surface, and before an hour has passed the yellow loops are embedded in clear adamantine crystal.

But that hour has not been spent in idleness. If you looked in through the door now, you would see sleeping bags, blankets and caribou hides strewn over green foam mattresses. Canvas containers and plywood boxes stuffed with personal belongings are stashed along the inner wall. An assortment of wind-pants and parkas hang on nails.

A couple of Coleman stoves are strategically placed so as to provide the maximum warmth possible. A lantern dangles from a hook in the ceiling. On the floor on a flattened Kellogg's carton is some seal meat, the rich dark blood soaking into the cardboard. Rifles, carefully stacked in a tall upright box, are close beside you as you stand in the opening of this dwelling. …

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