Arrival in Moose Factory

On Mon Oct 21, I arrived at the Kingston Airport, all set to board on my 18 seater Air Creebec flight to Moosonee Airport. The pilot himself gave us the intro talk and safety chat. Of all the travelling I have done in my life, this would be the smallest flight I would have taken.  What does the interior of an 18-seater look like? The flight from Kingston to Moose Factory was ~2hrs. I enjoy daytime very much as I enjoy seeing the sunrise, clouds and the skies!  (For those who know me, you’ll know that I have a million photos of clouds!). We arrived at the Moosonee Air Terminal, which looked no bigger than a convenient store on the inside!  It was the tiniest luggage belt I’ve seen, making it also the fastest time from landing to receiving the luggage.

Moosonee is a major coastal community as it has railhead of the Ontario Northland Railway, where goods are transferred to barges and aircrafts before transporting them to communities further north.  Moosonee is not particularly far north, being located at 51°N — which is roughly the same latitude as Saskatoon, Calgary, London, UK, and Berlin — but is isolated due to its lack of road access to the rest of Ontario [Wikipedia].

Moosonee is connected to the island of Moose Factory via water taxi in the summer, and ice roads in winter.  Helicopters fly between the two communities too.  There is no “public transportation” in these communities.  They have “cabs” that are cheap ($3-$5/ride).  Continuing my journey, I got picked up by a hospital cab which took me to the Moose River where our water taxi would be waiting. Once we arrived at Moose Factory, another cab greeted us and took us to the Weeneebayko General Hospital, where I would pick up my accommodations key. Most of the health staff live within 5 min walking of the hospital. There are a lot of students (med/dental/nursing/physio etc) that come and go, and some locums come up as well (usually 2-4 wks at a time).

Once I settled in, one of the doctors who coordinators medical learners, Dr. Dahl, graciously took me on a tour of the hospital, of the island and then grocery shopping!! #smalltownperks!  Even though everything is within walking distance, I am not a fan of carrying groceries around; so to have that burden eased was truly nice of the doctors. Roads are unpaved, plenty of dogs running around (reminds me of India) and food is EXPENSIVE (comparable to the prices of food in Geneva, Switzerland!). No wonder healthy foods are not the natural choices for people to eat. There are no sightings of moose unfortunately but I have rumors of bears that visit the island now and then! What should you do if you bump into a bear? One of the treasures on this island is a store called “GG’s”.  It looks like a warehouse from the outside, but has every imaginable items on the inside including guns.

My eventful first day in Moose Factory concluded with a giant cooking session.  I must admit, I am a spoiled brat when it comes to food. I have had the luxury of eating five-star Indian food, courtesy of mom.  It was really unfortunate that I couldn’t bring some of the delicacies up north with me!  Nevertheless, I am learning to survive under all circumstances.  When it comes to my own cooking, the bar is set to below mediocre. I have told myself that I have to be satisfied with whatever’s on my plate, regardless of the taste.  Let’s hope this changes some day for my sake!  My first cooked meal here: chicken, toast and baked veggies.

Jemy J., Class of 2015, University of Ottawa

Note: To read more about Jemy’s adventures in Moose Factory, visit her blog.