Step aboard a bush plane in Yellowknife and fly north of the Arctic Circle to the tiny Inuit community of Bathurst Inlet, the seasonal home to 15-20 Inuit people.
Check into the historic 1936 Hudson’s Bay Trading Post and Roman Catholic Mission that is now the unique, fully serviced, all-inclusive Bathurst Inlet Lodge — a centre for eco-tourism offering an immersive experience in Arctic landscapes, wildlife and traditional Inuit life.
RCMP Sergeant Glen Warner, who patrolled the region in the early days, purchased the buildings and opened the lodge in 1969 with his wife Trish in conjunction with the Kapolaks, a local Inuit family. It’s still jointly operated by the descendents of both families who grew up together.
Set at the mouth of the Burnside River, Bathurst is a remote, tranquil retreat open only during the short Arctic summer. The region is a lush oasis in the tree-less High Arctic, with caribou and musk ox grazing the rolling hills and valleys. There are countless birds as well as fields of delicate, colourful wildflowers. Archeological sites from the Inuit and pre-Dorset cultures include tent rings and meat caches.
An experienced guide leads tundra hikes — always on the lookout for grizzly bears and moose — and boating excursions to nearby islands in search of seals, loons and nesting bird colonies.
Meals regularly feature fresh Arctic char and on occasion, musk ox and other Northern specialties. Sleep in cabins or rooms in historic buildings. On the final evening, join a lively cultural event under the midnight sun and dress in traditional clothing.
“Guests have the opportunity to develop a genuine relationship with Inuit people,” says Boyd Warner, company president (and Glen and Trish Warner’s son.) “We have a lot of tears shed at the airport when people leave.”