Saturday, May 2, 2009


Ok, so we lied (or more so, Mike lied a little) when we said that we would have a new blog up on the 30th. However, it is only the 2nd and there is a new one up, so we aren’t that far behind!!!

Now, when we last talked, we mentioned that there were promotions and upcoming vacations and such. However, today we are going to talk about our version of the Blackout that we had in Ontario a few years ago.

From April 21st in the AM until the 23rd in the AM, we had limited power in town.

Our power plant broke down is basically what happened. From what we understand, there are three generators in town that power everything in town. There is one generator big enough that it can power the entire town by itself, and then there are two generators that, combined, can power the entire town.

Apparently what had happened is that the big generator kicked out, so they went to the two little generators.
Then one of them kicked out.

Meanwhile, while all this was happening, down at the Northern, we were running things as usual until the power went out. Then it came back on, then it went of again. This happened until the afternoon when Allan (our store manager) finally called the power corporation and found out what was happening.

So, for the next two days we operated under a “last minute of play in this period” type mentality. We would announce over the speaker system that the power was going out in 15 minutes (because by this point the power corp was nice enough to let us know when our power at the store was going out) and it seemed like all hell would break loose in the store. The lines would get really long, people would start rushing around the store, and we would have to have a staff member at the door to make sure nobody else would come in.

And for the next two days, any time the phone would ring, the question would be “is it open?”

Yes, “is it open?” The store is not referred to by most locals as the store when they ask you if the store is open. Nope. The Northern, for the most part, is referred to as “it” like the store is some sort of all knowing entity or something.

Occasionally, the store will be referred to as The Bay, which it was back in the mid 80’s before HBC sold off the northern Canadian stores they owned. Mostly the elders call it the Bay. I guess you could compare it to how most of us in Ontario still refer to Rogers Centre as the SkyDome.

So the power outage, getting back to the topic, would work on one hour cycles. For example, if you had power from 7 to 8 PM, you would be without from 8 to 9 PM, and so on. This made for interesting eating choices. The first day of the power outage, we helped clean up the Quickstop with the power out, and as a thank you, we were given left over KFC food for lunch. Not the healthiest of choices, but considering we couldn’t cook anything, it did the job. That night for dinner was sandwiches.

The second day of the power outages was once again sandwiches for lunch, and for dinner that night we made a deal that we would eat something hot. So, when the power kicked on, Mike made sure that he turned the oven on and within minutes there was a frozen pizza in the oven.

The power outage lasted until the Thursday morning and since then everything has been back to normal. Well, as normal as things can be anyway.

With the power outage though, we realized that we rely heavily on technology up here for entertainment and for work. We couldn’t do much in the way of television or movies or video games because we had no power, and at work we couldn’t even do the simplest of paper work by daylight because everything is kept on the computer. We couldn’t stock shelves because our warehouse has no windows whatsoever, and we couldn’t even have the store open because all of our cash registers are done through a computer point of sale system. At least in the south we would be able to sit outside and have a camp fire or something because up here we don’t have any trees!

Now, with that said, here are a couple of pictures that we promised.

Yes, it is May 2nd and look at all this damn snow! GAHH!

So, don’t be looking to us for sympathy if you have a day where it is a “chilly” 5 degrees! :P
Another update will follow in a few days, and this time there will be pictures of the store. We have promised this before, but this time we mean it. Hey, we’ve done pretty good as of late with our promises, have we not? :P

-Mike and Grace

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The April 23rd Post Finally Posted on April 29

Finally after a much awaited return to the blogosphere, we have come back for another try at this thing.

I know, we suck at keeping it updated. We readily admit that. Much like Mike is willing to admit that after 7 months of winter, he is extremely tired of it. Much like how we are both willing to admit that we miss BBQ food.
Or like how much we are willing to admit that VACATION CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH!

Yeah we are starting to get anxious. Mike was lucky enough that he got to go out to Winnipeg in March for a week for the Wintering Partner’s Conference, but still, we both need to get out of the North for a bit.

Now, with that said, we will try to do a quick recap of things that have gone on since we last spoke on this thing.
1) Holy crap, has it really been four months since we updated this blog?

2) When we last talked, we said how things weren’t so busy at the store. Well, that has changed since tax season kicked in. Like we had mentioned in a previous entry, saving money is not exactly done up here (or maybe it isn’t approved of, that much we are not sure of yet), so there was lots of spending done. Grocery is doing well, as it most likely always will due to the fact that people need to eat food. Retail is doing alright, not as good as last year, but last year also saw the IRSSA cheques (something to do with the schooling that they had as kids) so there was more money around.

3) Mike predicted last times that there would still be lots of jobs in town this year. So far, he has been right. The store is always hiring people, and to date there have only been two mining camps not returning this year, and both of those are relatively small (under 10 people), so they really don’t affect the job situation much here.

4) On February 1st, Mike was officially promoted to Grocery Manager (how the position opened up is quite a story, and will be told when we are home) here in Baker Lake! Of course, a promotion like this came with a raise in pay (which is ALWAYS good) but it also comes with better benefits, so WOOHOO!

5) On March 9th, Grace was promoted to General Merchandise Department Manager – Soft Lines and was named Post Mistress of the Post Office! Also, a raise in pay was included. So, WOOHOO!! Basically, she takes care of the fashion side of retail and is in charge of the post office. And believe it or not, that post office is, as Bill MacKay would say, “CRAZY BUSY!”.

6) We are still living in the house that we moved in to in November, and we potentially may be living here for a while longer as the store wants to keep the house if the owner’s are willing to rent it our another year. So, WOOHOO!

7) Since Christmas time, Grace has been on Weight Watchers and has done INCREDIBLY WELL! I (Mike) will not dive into numbers here because it isn’t my place to tell, but she is happy with it so far (which is all that matters)

8) Since Christmas time, Mike has NOT been on Weight Watchers, which at times drives Grace crazy since he will eat some junk food that she likes. Mike has since learned to not eat that junk food around here. :P

Now, there is the Coles Notes version of how the last four months have gone. Some of the faces of our management team have changed, but it all seems to be for the better at this point.

Now, here is the quick rundown of what happens in June as June means VACATION!

On June 18th we fly out of Baker Lake on the evening flight and arrive in Winnipeg at 10 PM. We are staying two nights in Winnipeg because we are going to spend the day with Britt and Chris on the 19th and take in the sights and sounds of Winnipeg. On June 20th we fly out of Winnipeg and arrive in Toronto around noon.

So, with that said…


Our schedule is, so far, a little busy, but we will make sure that we are available to see each and every one of you!

Now, with that said, there will be another update tomorrow night (Thursday the 30th) with some more stories of the north.

-Mike and Grace

PS: We will have more pictures posted soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Holiday Wishes

Hopefully the Christmas season was as good to everyone else as it was to us this year. We were lucky enough to have Grace’s parents come up and visit us for a week. On top of that, we all got some great gifts and had some good laughs.

Christmas away from home for the first time was somewhat different. For me, it was strange to be away from family and friends at this time of year. For example, on Christmas Eve there wasn’t the Wilson Family Christmas, it was a Baker Lake Perogie Feast.

It was nice in some ways though, as we got to do some things that you wouldn’t be able to experience down south. At midnight, we went down ONTO the lake (as it is VERY frozen at this time of year) and watched the Northern Lights dance around as an Arctic Hare hopped out in front of us. That was quite a sight that you can’t get just anywhere!

Christmas Day was also an adventure! Who would have thunk it that I would be the last person out of bed on Christmas Morning? Not I!

Everyone here at the house was spoiled one way or another with the gifts they got, which was good. But most importantly, the people that were here on Christmas morning were people that care about each other. Once we finished opening presents, which was around 2 PM, we finally started to get ready for Christmas dinner.

Now, for me, Christmas dinner was quite small this year as we had a grand total of six people for dinner, as opposed to the usual 20 or so at the Snell house.

However, Christmas was enjoyed by all, and other than Grace having a bout of the flu on Christmas Day, everyone was healthy and happy.

New Years Eve in Baker Lake was something else! It may not have been the biggest party that we have ever had, or ever been too, but it is definitely one for the ages! We had Steve, John, Karen, and their two kids over for a total of seven people in the house. But, with those seven people we had a party for the ages.

We had our fair share of drinks, we saw New Years come in a total of four times thanks to the wonders of TV (Newfoundland, Halifax, Ontario and Nunavut) and therefore, we had four New Years toasts.

To make a long story short, the party ended sometime around 4 AM and resulted in a few head aches the next day. Everyone had a great time, and that is the main thing.

So far the New Year has been not so busy at the store. Apparently there is a bit of a lull at this time of year as most people have done a lot of shopping at Christmas time and are waiting to accumulate some more disposable income. Grocery, for the most part, has been just as busy as before. Where we see the most decline is in retail, as like I said, the money just isn’t there at this time of year.

For us, it is hard to say whether or not the economy has anything to do with the lull as this happens every year. Also, it is hard to tell how the economy will affect things up here because there aren’t a whole lot of jobs tied to southern companies. I mean, there are companies that are owned by southern companies (such as ours), however, there is money to be made here. The gold mine has some ridiculous amount of gold deposits at their site that there is no way they would shut down. Also, the other mines here have minerals that are still in high demand. Therefore, the jobs are still here.

We’ll just have to see how 2009 plays out for us compared to 2008.

In other news, we have done a little bit of wedding planning, however nothing is set in stone as of yet. All we know for sure is that the year will be 2010. Speaking of which, 2010 is turning out to be a big year for weddings for us as Steph and Steve are getting married on July 10 and Britt and Chris are getting married on July 24. Congrats to both couples!!

I know I write this in every blog, but we will definitely try our best to do more blogs in the future!

Thanks again to everyone who sent cards, gifts, and e-mails to us this holiday season. Every little bit helped make our first Christmas away from home a little bit easier to cope with given the fact that we couldn’t see any of you.

Only five months until we are back in Ontario for a visit!

Mike and Grace