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Memories of Visits to the Governor General's Village

Canada's Governor General, Mary Simon was born in Kangirsualujuak, Nunavik, Quebec.

If you look on page 191 in my book, "Tight Floats and Tailwinds," you will see that I first visited Kangirsualujuak (George River Settlement/Ford Island/Port Nouveau, Quebec) on July 3, 1970.

 "nasaq" knit hat

This was my first contact with Inuit. The Inuit came out to my Otter in several large freighter canoes. On that occasion I bought an Inuit, "nasaq" knit hat, that I still have. I had called ahead on the HF and ordered the hat but the radio reception was pretty bad, so they had brought out a whole box of them for me to buy. They were pretty disappointed when I only bought one for $12 that was a lot of money for a young pilot in those days. An Anglican priest acted as interpreter.

Kangirsualujuak Inuit - July 3, 1970 - In the foreground is Band Chief Willy Imutluk

The following year, I returned and spent a night with them in a tent at Helen Falls, (the first big rapids up the river) from the settlement. That is a story on it's own. I was very impressed with the Inuit camp compared to the many tent camps I had previously stayed in, further south, in the bush. In the fall of 1972 I picked up a load of Americans at the dock at Kangirsualujuak in a 1939 Grumman Goose. It was almost dark and one of the American ladies gave a US Buffalo Nickel to one of the Inuit children. As I was hopping around on one foot wanting to get into the air before dark, she spent an inordinate amount of time explaining to the child what a buffalo was. I got airborne just before dark and flew the 2 hour trip to Schefferville in the dark. The Goose wasn't equipped for night flying and the only lighting I had was a white lightbulb on the roof of the cockpit. The aircraft wouldn't fly at gross weight on one engine so it was a long two hour trip over some of the most inhospitable terrain in N. America. At that time the charts still had large gaps that were labeled "unexplored" or "relief data incomplete".

Kangirsualujuak/Ford Island Summer camp at the mouth of the George River, Quebec

I think Mary Simon is a good choice and that she will make a great Governor General. I may have met her on the sleep over at Hellen Falls in 1971 as there were two young Inuit women from Kangirsualujuak in the camp. God Save the Queen and her representative in Canada.

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