Summer, 1980

February 10, 2020

Summer, 1980


My part in this story began on the first of May, 1980, in the very early hours of the morning, when I boarded an Austin Airways flight in Timmins, Ontario, bound for Cape Dorset. I sat in the back of the Hawker Sidley 748, a twin turbo-prop airplane that has replaced the more romantic but less efficient DC-3 as the workhorse of the north. We made several stops to take on cargo destined for the tiny communities that dot the east coast of Hudson Bay. When we left Salluit, on the northernmost coast of Quebec in what is now Nunavik, for the final leg of the trip across Hudson Strait to south Baffin, I sat in the jump seat between the pilot and copilot and watched as the fog and cloud cover lifted and dissipated into the deep blue of the late afternoon sky. The reflection of the sun on the vast expanse of ice below was almost blinding, and as we dropped in altitude I was told to look for polar bears that might be hunting seals along the coast, hungry after the long winter. I saw no bears on that trip and no seals, but it hardly mattered; it was the ride of my life, and it set the tone for the summer of my life. I didn’t know then that it had also set my direction for the next thirty-two years.



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