The Wakefield adventurers who shared their Nunavut trip online in 1999

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A new national park was about to open in the territory of Nunavut, and Mike Bedell and Pamela Coulston wanted to show it to the world.

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The couple from Wakefield, Que., had travelled to Bylot Island, across the water from the community of Pond Inlet on the northern tip of Baffin Island.

Look waaaay up

A map shows the location of Bylot Island, a new national park north of Baffin Island in Nunavut. (The National/CBC Archives)

But their two-month journey began by dragging their sea kayaks across the ice until they could reach open water. 

“Sirmilik National Park is being announced this August,” Bedell told reporter Paul Irngaut. “We really wanted to do a special journey.”

The park was to include most of Bylot Island and adjacent parts of Baffin Island. 

Tough slog

Mike Bedell drags a sea kayak over the ice near Bylot Island. (The National/CBC Archives)

Bylot Island is also a bird sanctuary that is an important stopping-off point for migratory birds such as the thick-billed murre and the greater snow goose.

Bedell, a professional wildlife photographer and wilderness guide, and Coulston, a jewelry designer, called the project Kayak Nunavut ’99.

“In the coming years, Pond Inlet … will have tremendous profile and I think there will be a lot of people really yearning to come up here and meet the people and travel with local guides,” said Bedell. 

Bird sanctuary

A pair of black-legged kittiwakes is seen on Bylot Island, which is a migratory bird sanctuary in Nunavut. (The National/CBC Archives)

“Bedell and Coulston will work to ensure that profile by taking along some leading-edge technology,” said Irngaut as the camera showed Coulston’s setup.

It consisted of a laptop computer, a cordless telephone handset and a satellite phone terminal. 

“We’ve been really fortunate to get a wonderful little notebook computer,” explained Coulston. “Along with that we’ve got, from TeleSat Canada, a satellite phone.”

They were able to access their email using the system, as well as update their website.

“We’re able to beam back our stories weekly using solar power,” said Coulston. “It’s wonderful technology. We’re really thrilled by it.”

Bedell added that he could also send high-resolution images “anywhere on the planet as an email.”

‘Wonderful technology’

Pamela Coulston uses a satellite phone to update the website detailing her kayaking journey with Mike Bedell. (The National/CBC Archives)

According to Irngaut, several daily newspapers were publishing the couple’s weekly column about their adventures, and they expected that up to a million people would learn about Kayak Nunavut ’99 through their website. 

“I’ve brought hundreds of people to the community of Pond [Inlet] and they’ve all … gone away very changed and absolutely inspired by this landscape,” said Bedell.

An iceberg floats past Bylot Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Monday, July 24, 2017. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

https://www.cbc.ca/archives/the-northern-adventurers-who-shared-their-journey-online-in-1999-1.5201217?cmp=rss