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A popular stop

Hundreds use Qamanittuaq Visitor's Centre

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Aug 22/01) - Baker Lake's Basil Tiktaalaaq is wrapping up his second year at the Qamanittuaq Visitor's Centre and he likes what he sees.

Tiktaalaaq says he's seen a big increase in the number of people to come through the centre, especially visitors from other countries.

The visitor's centre is open from early June until the Labour Day weekend.

"We had visitors from all over Nunavut this year and also visitors from St. Paul, Minn., Switzerland and Greenland," says Tiktaalaaq.

"Most told me they were amazed by how beautiful it is here and they were all interested in our community's history."

Tiktaalaaq, 42, is a lifelong resident of Baker Lake and takes great pride in welcoming visitors to his community and giving them a historical perspective.

Visitors hear how the first Hudson's Company Post in the Baker Lake area was constructed at the mouth of the Kazan River in 1916.

In 1925, W. O. Douglas built a new post at the mouth of the Thelon River.

In the spring of 1939, the Bay relocated to Baker Lake.

The building from the Thelon site was sawn in half and pulled over the ice, one section at a time, by a 90-dog team.

The building was used as the store until a new one was opened in the 1950s.

"The visitors are amazed by the story and love to hear it," says Tiktaalaaq.

Bridget Orsetti of the Iqaluit Visitor's Centre travelled to Baker this summer to compare notes with Tiktaalaaq, who says his co-worker, Angelica Nautarinaaq, was a tremendous help this year.

"We had more than 300 people come through the centre this year and it was a great experience. "I hope the hamlet council decides to hire me back again next year and I can help the centre grow even more," she says.

"The people here in Baker have also been coming out to the centre a lot more and I thank them for that. It's been good to see."