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.