Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So since our last blog a lot has happened. Mike and I have moved into a house! Woo hoo. The store was currently leasing a house for our grocery manager and, well, some things happened and our grocery manager left town suddenly. Since my parents are coming up for christmas our store manager asked Mike and I to move into the house till the lease was up because he didn’t want to leave the house unattended  and it has 3 bedrooms so we’ll have a lot more room for christmas. The house is pretty nice. It has 3 bedrooms and 4 TVs, all with satellite! We also have 2 full bathrooms, one being in our master  bedroom. We also have a nice big kitchen and a garage with a fancy car which we can’t use because its owned by the store and its just being stored here for the winter part of the year. Which leads me into my next topic, which is the weather.

 Well we waited for snow and it finally came, at first it was nice and we didn’t find it to be to cold at all now however that is changing. We are definitely thankful that our new digs are located right across the street from the store because WOW is it ever a frosty morning walk. Our front door has a deck infront of it and last week we had a blizzard and all the snow blew right infront of our steps so for a week we were going through the garage to get into the house. Finally today, even though we are having another blustery day, Mike was able to shovel the steps.  The postive side of having all his snow and cold weather is that it makes a great freezer on your door step. Anytime we need a bottle or can cooled we through it on the porch for 10 minutes and it’s nice and frosty. All in all, the weather isn’t so bad, however, we have learned that when going anywhere outside after it hits -25 and its windy that it’s a must to wear snow pants. I just can’t wait till it hits -70 :S lol

So I’ve updated  you on our house and our blustery weather now on to something slightly more interesting and amusing lol. Now that it’s Christmas our store holds different event nights such as Moonlight Madness, Customer Appreciation, Kids Day, Ladies Night, Teen Night , Mens Night and Elders Night. During these nights we open the store from 8-10 and have big sales, depending on the night. For example, on teen night we play games, and on busier nights such as ladies night we just try to get everyone through the till as fast as we can.  So anyway, last Saturday we had Kids Day which means the big red guy comes and visits the store. Traditionally, its always the new guy that plays Santa, however we recently got another member to our management team (the name is Steve) which should mean Mike is off the hook. This year however they decided to also order a Rudolph costume which meant Mike played dear old Santa and Steve played Rudolph lol best day of my life. No worries folks I’ll be posting pictures at the bottom of Mike in his outfit… oh and of Rudolph.

 Well other than that not much else is new just the odd thing. I had a great birthday! Mike got a Barbie cake made for me and had everyone sing happy birthday to me during coffee it was really nice. Also thanks everyone for the wishes, gifts and cards it made the day special. We still miss everyone lots and can’t believe we’ve been living in the North for 6 months now. Wedding plans really have not progressed. Hopefully once my parents come up we will celebrate and plan a little more. All we really know right now is that we want to get married and not get married in the summer or spring. Well I’m signing off now and promise I’ll write a blog on how the rest of the Christmas season goes.s

Love Grace!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Long Needed and Awaited Update

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Sorry that it has been so long since our last blog post, but in the future we will try to update more often.

When we last wrote a blog, we had just bought a new TV and a treadmill. We have made some new purchases since then.

Grace bought an electric fireplace from Costco (which, by the way, is the best way to shop as there is no shipping) to help make the apartment feel a tad more cozy as it isn’t the warmest feeling place. It is a grey/silver colour. Below is a picture.

In the last month, we haven’t really had a whole lot of adventures as the store is busy and the weather is starting to resemble winter more and more every single day.

We "inherited" a really good portion of caribou that one of the locals shot down one day. We ended up with the butt of the caribou, which turned out to be a good chunk of meat. Below are some picture of me being a butcher. :P

We had the first snow fall of the year on September 15th, and what a snow fall it was.

And yes, for those of you who know me too well, I did make a snow man that night.

Since then we have had a few get togethers with the people we work with. One was for Paul’s (the butcher) 40th birthday, and we certainly had a great time. We had some drinks, had some cake, and of course, had fun.

We then got together next for the 2008 Northern Hockey Pool Draft. For the sports buffs... no, Gary Bettman did not host it. Both Grace and I have teams in it, and periodically we will update you on our standings in the pool. Grace picked her team based on names she liked and recognized. I picked mine based on stats and theories. Here are the teams for those of you who care to keep track/are interested.


Evgeni Malkin

Eric Staal

Alexander Kopitar

Cory Stillman

Shane Doan

Jonathan Cheecho

Jason Arnott

Nik Antropov

Viktor Kozlov

Thomas Kaberle

W. Wolski

Mike Fisher


Vincent LeCavalier

Patrick Kane

Derek Roy

Rick Nash

Johan Franzen

A.  AKostitsyn

Dion Phaneuf

Nikoli Zherdev

Ryan Malone

Dustin Penner

Dennis Wideman (dubbed the “who the hell?” pick of the night”)

Joffrey Lupul

Now, I know that last time I promised to post some pictures of our store, however, when I went to take the pictures that morning, the batteries in the camera died and I haven’t had a chance to take pictures again. I do promise that one of these days I will get the pictures taken and posted.

On our way home from work the one night, we happened to see this little fella pictured below sitting under our neighbour's truck. Just to put things into perspective, that is probably a 20" tire on this truck...

Pretty cute little bugger isn't he? The arctic hare turns white in the winter to blend in to the surroundings to protect itself from predators. In the summer months, they are brown.

Like I said before, there should be more updates in the future as we stop being so lazy and actually write these things. LOL. 

Hopefully everyone is well and healthy and safe down south. 

Take care,
Mike and Grace

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Hello everyone!

Since it has been a few weeks since the last blog post, I thought I would give everyone a quick update on what is going on here in Baker Lake.

We have made a few major purchases in our home since the last blog, which were as follows:

- a 19" LCD TV
- a printer for the computer
- a treadmill

We got the TV for the bedroom because, as we have discovered, we don't like to watch the same TV shows all the time, or the same movies sometimes, so for us to have the second option is a nice change. 

The printer for the computer was a different story. It was brought back to the store because the person who bought it said that the scanner "didn't scan the whole page". Ken, the GM manager at the store, was going to write it off without testing it. Grace suggested buying it at a discount instead of writing it off because a) the store would get some money for it, and b) if it prints, it isn't totally useless. So Ken sold it to us for $20, and it usually retails at $149. So we got it home, Grace hooked it up and tested it out. Turns out that the thing works just fine. The theory is that the person didn't realize that it only scans the stuff you put in, not the outlines of pages and such. Either way, we got a pretty nice printer for $20. For the tech geeks that are out there, it is a Lexmark X1270. 

Grace bought a treadmill from Paul, the Meat manager, for $200, which we both thought was a hell of a deal considering the freight on an item like that is going to be pretty high. The treadmill itself can be somewhat tempermental, but other than that it is a very good deal for the price we paid.

Other than that, our lives have revolved a lot around work and sleep and work again. The store has been super busy, with August being the biggest month in our store's history for sales. I would state the numbers here, but I am not sure on the policies and appropriateness of all that. 

Grace has spent a bit of time making the house feel a little more like home as pictures have been hung up. It is starting to feel like home to us now, as we have put our own little touches on the place. We have bought covers for the couch and chair in the house to make them feel better. We have got the TV and such now that gives us the added luxuries. If only the store would pay for a touch up of paint on the house, it would look brand new. Haha!

Other than that, not much news from here. I am going to take some pictures of the store on Sunday so that everyone can get an idea of exactly what we have to work with up here.

Take care,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Canoes and Hondas


I know that it has been a while since the last update, but we have been fairly adventurous since our last entry.

A couple of Saturdays ago, there was a group of canoeists in town returning from their trip up one of the rivers that runs into the lake. They were leaving town on Sunday morning, and had some stuff they wanted to sell. They had originally come to the store to see if Allan, our boss, would help them out. We told them that the store would not sell their stuff – canoes, paddles, life jackets – but out of curiousity, JP (our grocery manager) asked how much they were selling the canoes for.

The answer: $100

JP didn’t hesitate to say “I’ll take one!”

Neither did John (who is our Quickstop manager), and the same with Jim (the convenience store manager).

Then Grace and I found out about this great deal (or bargoooooooooooon as Kyle would say).
Here is the series of events that led us to the canoe.

Grace: “Mike, we are buying a canoe.”
Mike: “Ok. How much.”
Grace: “$100!”
Mike: “Where?!”

And after MUCH debate as you can tell from the dialogue above, we had bought a canoe. And two paddles, and two life jackets.

Total cost for the entire lot was $170. A great steal buy any means, considering that John looked up how much the same canoe would be brand new down south. John came back the next day and said that those canoes sell for $1,300 retail. So we definitely got a deal!

Since then, we have been out on the canoe twice on Baker Lake, and they were quite the times. The first time we were out it was kinda windy and wavy, but we managed to get back to shore without any trouble (and after a little unplanned dip by Mike in the water!).

The second time the water was perfectly still, and we had a blast!


On Wednesday night, we decided to take a little trip out on the land to a location that we like to call “The Bridge to Nowhere”.

Why is it called the Bridge to Nowhere? It is literally a Bridge to Nowhere. No road on the other side, just land. No path on the other side, just land. Nothing.

A bridge to nowhere. But what a bridge it is!

We borrowed Paul’s (the meat manager) and JP’s Hondas and went out to the Mine Road (which is the road to the mine, and likely one of only two roads with a name in town, the other being Airport Road, which ironically enough goes to the airport.). We drove the half an hour drive down this windy path to get to the bridge to nowhere. Along the way we stopped to take some pictures, and we even stopped in to one of the cabins along the road (there are tonnes of cabins) to take a look.

When we got to the cabin we stopped at, we noticed a great big inuksuk at the top of the hill beside it. We asked the owner of the cabin what it was, and he said, “that is the official geographical centre of Canada.”

But we thought Baker Lake was? Not at all, Baker Lake is just the closest town, and in all reality is probably 15-20 km southeast of the official centre.

Apparently the government decided one day that they should determine the centre of Canada, and in doing so they found that this spot was the geographic centre. To commemorate this occasion, they built a great big inuksuk on top of this hill, and people stop by it all of the time. Of course, being the “tourists” we are, we had to go take a look and touch it.

Once we got the Hondas up the hill, with some excitement of course, we took the pictures and kept on our way. Once we got to the bridge, we were in awe of the sights.

It was a bridge, over a rushing river that led to nowhere. The river, known as The Prince, was the cleanest river that we had ever seen. It is so clean that we were told that you just have to take a drink out of it. So, with that said, we took out our glasses and filled them up with the water from the river. And I must say, it was much better water than any tap water (or any bottled water for that matter) that you could get down south.

So we took in the sights, had a drink, and headed back into town as the sun started to go down.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip out to the land, and it is one that we will have to make again.

As per usual, pictures are included below with captions.

Don’t hesitate to e-mail us, we love hearing from the people back home!

Mike and Grace
Grace walking across the Bridge...
The Prince River
Grace and The Prince
Mike and The Prince
Grace and James drinking water from the Prince
"Bottoms up!"

James and Mike at the Geographical Centre of Canada!
Grace at the Geographical Centre of Canada!
View from the land to the Bridge

An Inksuk on the land.
James and Mike taking in the view at the centre of the country.

James on the Honda in front of the fourplex.

Mike driving down the road on a Honda.
Grace and Mike on the Honda
View back into town.

Monday, August 4, 2008


At the Northern in Baker Lake, twice a year we have this thing called “Sealift”. Now, most of you are likely sitting there going, “What in the heck is a sealift?” Well, that is the reason for this blog entry.

Sealift is an “event” where the barge comes in from the south with non-perishable foods and retail goods for the store stock. The barge is brought in to the pier in town by a tug boat, and is then docked. The barge is loaded with storage containers called “Sea Cans”. Each sea can is packed full with goods, and measures out to a size of about 9 feet wide and 20 feet long. Now, just to set the scene, our store is the second biggest store in the company in terms of sales and revenue.

With that being said, we get a whole lot of stuff in sea lift.

22 sea cans to be exact (and that is only the first barge of the year).

Starting last Wednesday morning, we started unloading our sea cans, which were dropped off behind the store for us by the shipping company. For this process, we hire some of the young local guys to help out since it is a long, hard process. We hand bomb EVERYTHING from each sea can into the warehouse at the store, and then pile it in a certain spot depending on the item. For example, if it is an item that can’t be frozen, it stays in the “Old Store”, which is our biggest warehouse and has heat in it. For paper products, pasta noodles, garbage bags, etc., they go in either the “First”, “Second” or “Third” warehouse, which are not heated.

We started unloading the sea cans at 10 am on Wednesday morning. We stopped for an hour for lunch, an hour for dinner, and the odd “smoke” break during the day. We didn’t leave the store until midnight.

Thursday morning at 10 am, we started once again. However, because we are management, we started at 8 am like usual. We repeated the same system as the day before, with one exception. We tried using a “roller” system. Now, rollers are exactly as they sound. It is a table like structure with rollers on it that allow you to slide objects across it. This was set up in order to make the distance between people shorter, hence less throwing of boxes and less injuries. As Grace will attest to, this was good in theory.

During the unloading of cases of Carnation Milk (48 cans to a case), the rollers fell over, and hit Grace in the leg. Thankfully she only walked away with a couple of bruises, but they are quite the bruises, as the picture before shows.

Because of this, Grace went home to rest. I got home at 10 pm that night.

On Friday, the worst of sea lift was over. The last six or seven sea cans were full of furniture, which are big items and are a lot quicker to empty out. We pulled everything out of the sea cans, and then Allan, who is our store manager, organized everything into certain sea cans to be kept as storage until our Arena Sale (which will be a totally different article at the end of the month).
So, by closing on Friday night, WE WERE DONE!!!

Overall, sea lift is quite the thing. Now, I know that we have explained in the past that we get freight by plane probably five times a week, so why do we do sea lift?

It’s very simple: money.

It is much cheaper to bring in product by sea lift, therefore we sell the items at a lower price.
What does that mean? The customer saves money.

For instance, a 12 pack of pop costs $19.99 after sea lift, compared to $27.99 when brought in by plane.

Sea lift also allows us to bring in massive quantities of pop, which also allows us to have better stock on items.

So, there you have it folks. That is what sea lift is all about.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Land

Hi everyone, so a lot has happened in the last 2 weeks that we should have wrote 2 blogs about but it’s all in one giant big one. First off I’m going to educate you all on some Inuktitut which is the language spoken by the elders of the town. Inuktitut is not a language that can be easily translated because it’s not based on words its based on feelings and I honestly don’t know how to spell them correctly so I’m going to type them the way I say them ok.. here goes.

Huvan- what’s up!

Daimah- that’s all

Mutna- thank you

Goenook – means eskimo kiss which is rubbing your nose with someone

Huna- what/pardon

Ookalook – telephone

Gookgook- candy

Mine Trip

Last week Mike went out to the Agnico Eagle Gold Mine (called Meadowbank Camp) for a tour of the kitchen facilities and such. The Meadowbank Camp is located about 110 kilometres northwest-ish of Baker Lake, which doesn’t seem like such a far drive, but when you consider that the roads are all gravel and not very smooth, it ends up being around a three hour drive each way.

Mike and James, who works with Mike in the Camps department, hitched a ride out to the camp with Peter’s Expediting, who are the company who delivers all of the groceries to the camp, for what they thought would be a quick trip.

They left the store at 12:30, and didn’t make it back home until 9:30 that night. So much for having a short trip.

The scenery was unbelievable! It seemed as though that every ten kilometers the scenery changed. There were a bunch of random little lakes and ponds all over the place, which they were told by their driver Solomon that when the snow and ice melts, it all goes to the low points, which is how all of the water bodies are formed on the land.

After finally making it to the camp in a “record breaking” 3.5 hours, they helped to unload the truck and then got the tour from Keith Mackey, who is the Kitchen Manager at the camp. After seeing some of the rooms and the kitchen facilities, which pictures will be posted of sometime this week as James has them on his camera, they were able to eat a meal prepared with the food that they sell.

Now, for those of you that thought that the people who work at the mines are “roughing” it, you couldn’t be any more wrong! On the night that they were there, the dinner menu consisted of:

- Spaghetti with meat sauce

- Ham

- Mashed Potatoes

- Homemade mac and cheese

- Mixed vegetables

- Full salad bar

- A Cheese bar (at least four kinds of cheese)

- Eight different kinds of deserts

- Eight different kinds of juice on tap

And according to Keith, this was a mediocre night for the people at the camp. Once a week they have a steak night, which they could only imagine what that is like.

Below there will be some pictures posted of the scenery of the land between town and the camp. Camp pictures will be posted later this week.

The Honda trip!

Last Thursday Mike and I took a walk down by the water to see the new barge that arrived. This barge was full of construction equipment. These large barges all come in around the end of July and continue to come in until the end of September. That’s the ONLY time they come because if they come in after that they get stuck here for the winter, like the one that has been in previous blog pictures. Anyway, they call this sealift and our company uses it to get mass amounts of product up here. We will be receiving sealift 3 times before the end of the summer and once we get it I will explain in more detail how it works and what it looks like because right now I have no idea other than large barges come in and we pull 12 hour days unloading the stuff.

So anyway the Honda part of the blog… after walking down to the water to check the barge out we quickly retreated because OH MY GOD bugs! Yes we have bug jackets but wow! We have some pictures at the bottom of Mike being swarmed. So once we got back to the four-plex Jim came back on his Honda and we talked about wanting to go out on the Honda so he offered up his. Now we are supposed to have helmets to go out but Jim told us to take the back road out and we would be ok. So… we jumped on the Honda and took a little trip to the land.

I didn’t get to go out to see the camp so this was my first experience of scenery outside of town and wow it’s just gorgeous and so peaceful. On our little drive we were driving up hill so once we got to a certain point we actually got a great view of the sun setting as well as Baker Lake from a distance. On our drive we came across a small grave yard.

Now up here, since the ground is all tundra and rock, you can’t bury people in the ground so they bury them above ground and cover the simple plywood casket with big chunks of rock. We also came across the dump, which is just a fenced in area with smoke and chunks of metal because they have to burn the garbage as soon as they get it or people will actually try and go through it. The way the garbage is done up here is very simple, you have big metal cans placed outside your house and whenever you have garbage you put it in the can and they usually pick it up in the same day.. It’s pretty simple, except that the only down side it that there is no recycling. Anyway it was a great experience and I’ve posted pictures at the bottom of the scenery.

Well that’s all we have for this post but if anyone has any random questions let me know and I’d be glad to answer them.

Ciaoz Grace!

PS: Last Tuesday we saw the moon for the first time since we’ve moved up here!

me and mike on the honda!
the sun setting..so beautiful

that is a small family graveyard.
thats the green monster barge thats in a bunch of pictures from previous posts, they had to move it to the middle of the lake so new barges come in, so it's stuck there until a big enough tug boat can come in and push it home.

The 1st barge of the season
mike being swarmed.. if the picture was bigger you would actually be able to see more...
the big jacket keeps them off your skin but they swarm the top of your head like crazy so you have to wear a hat.

mike on his way out to the camp.
the camp... more pictures to come!!
caribou that he was able to get a picture of, he also so an arctic rabbit and a fox.
one of the small lakes made by melted snow.

another picture of the camp.