Friday, 24 July 2015

Life in Camp

The base for my research is the Quttinirpaaq National Park warden station at Lake Hazen often called Camp Hazen. Each day I head out to my sites to gather data but Camp Hazen is my home for the 2 months of my field work.

My sleeping quarters for 2 months is a spacious but cozy and warm orange tent. Most of the time it is calm at Lake Hazen but when the wind picks up it really blows, hence the copious large stones tethering the tent, nothing worse than seeing an orange balloon sailing down the lake!

Food is much discussed and a major preoccupation when working outdoors all day. Large plates of pasta or curry and rice are consumed to satiate our large appetites. The kitchen is the original Atwell hut that was erected at Camp Hazen in 1957 by the Defense Research Board. It was modernised a few years ago and now sports a gas stove for cooking, a gas fridge and an oil burning stove for heat on the odd chilly day.

Water for drinking, cooking and washing comes from Lake Hazen, for a while, through an augured hole in the ice and now just from shore as the ice is too rotten to go out on the lake. Water was being pumped up to a water tank in the kitchen and we had the luxury of cold water from a tap but the water tank has a leak so we are now back to hauling wheel barrows full of water containers between the lake and camp.

The shower is an upended coffin where a camp shower bag can be slung and a grey water pit underneath. The sun’s rays are too weak this far north to heat the water in the black shower bag so we heat water for a shower on the stove.

The toilet is a Storburn “comfort station” which has a propane fired burner under the toilet to burn the human waste. We all laugh about the name “comfort station”, it is not a place to linger!

Our friend the rock ptarmigan is still in residence and entertaining us with his desire to drive a snowmobile.


  1. Zoe

    Seems like a pretty basic existence. Do you eat your meals alone, or as part of a group? Do you take turns cooking and cleaning up? And what about fun? Playing scrabble, watching Game of Thrones or Taylor Swift Utubes, or talking Canadian politics?

  2. We cooked in small groups and took turns cooking and washing dishes. Every week or so we would have a "feast night" kind of like a pot luck where everyone cooked a dish to share and we all ate together. The maximum number of people in camp was only 8 and sometimes there were just 2.
    In past years monopoly and rummy were popular. This year "movie nights" were popular complete with pop corn. There was always lots of banter, research was much higher on this list of topics discussed than politics!