Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Taking a little tour of Resolute...

Posted 2/09/16 (Tue)

It seems every year about this time, I get this morbid thought of looking into places that have much harsher winters than we do.

Last year I filed information in this space about Little Diamede Island, Alaska.

You’ll recall, the inhabitants of Little Diamede are probably the only people in the United States who can actually see Russia from their house, as Big Diamede Island is part of Russia and is less than 3 miles away.

People in North Dakota, including myself, complain about winter, even if it’s a mild one like we’re experiencing.

Maybe that’s where this morbid thought comes from. Maybe I just have to prove to myself that the North Dakota prairie isn’t so bad after all.

So lately, I’ve been thinking about Resolute, a small village of 230 people in the Nunavut Territory in Arctic Canada.

Resolute has the same population as my hometown so I can already relate to it, at least in that respect.

But oh my goodness, the difference between Resolute and Hazelton aren’t even comparable.

Take for instance Resolute’s location. I used to think that Barrow, Alaska was the end of the world, which it kind of is.

It’s the northernmost community in the United States and it sits at 72 Degrees north latitude. If you want to go any further north, you’ll be in the Arctic Ocean.

It’s a desolate place and if you think weather is harsh here, drop into Barrow sometime in winter.

But Resolute is even more bleak and quite frankly, I can’t imagine how people can live there.

Many of us have a sense of adventure, thus I would like to visit Resolute and see it for myself, but there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Tucson I’d want to live there.

Resolute is positioned at 74 Degrees north latitude, but is much farther east than Barrow. North and south would be the equivalent distance of the entire state of North Dakota from north to south.

I found some pictures of Resolute and after looking at them, it should be called “Desolute” instead.

Of course there are no trees and virtually no plant growth. Green is truly a rare color in Resolute and when it is it’s tundra only.

The community sits in a sort of bowl with the surrounding landscape all rocky, as if it were the moon. It’s located on the bay of the Barrow Strait and ships dock there when the weather will allow it. Resolute is built up on the southern coast of Cornwallis Island.

Ironically, it’s a diverse community of Inuit people, miners and scientists studying weather. There’s a military radar station at 82 Degrees north latitude, 500 miles from the North Pole and, some of the Soldiers stay in Resolute.

The town has a grocery store and a nursing station as well as an Arctic College satellite campus. There’s a public school, a police detachment and a church. That’s it other than hotels.

There is no scenery unless you like looking at water towers and an occasional iceberg that floats around in the bay.

There’s only one road into the community, which is gravel, but most often people fly in to the local airport, which has recently gained notoriety because of military missions there and a devastating plane crash in 2011.

This place is so far north and east, it nearly touches Greenland and is considered one of the coldest inhabited places on earth.

Anchorage is 1,600 miles, Winnipeg is 1,700 miles, Stockholm is 2,700 miles and Melbourne, Australia is 9,200 miles. Resolute’s position is roughly 1,000 miles from the North Pole, the real North Pole, not the town in Alaska.

Many of you are probably thinking you’ve traveled farther than 9,000 miles on overseas trips, but you must remember, nearly every place on earth below the Arctic Circle is in a southerly direction from Resolute.

Weather is the big clincher, of course. The average annual daily high temperature is 9 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 1 below zero. That’s the average!

The highest temperature ever recorded is 65 degrees, but normally in July, which is the warmest month, the temperature averages 45 degrees during the day.

There’s about three months of the midnight sun, but, the sun goes down Nov. 7 and doesn’t rise again until Feb. 4. Imagine the depression in three months of darkness!

The average low is in February at 32 below. That’s the average, that’s nearly every night. The record low is 62 below zero.