The offbeat occupant: Gloria Guns, Lawyer, musician, journalist
Other occupants: Rob
Approximate square footage: 1000-2000 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? 2
Lives in: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada
When did you move into this home? Four months ago.
Let’s start with the neighborhood. What’s it like where you live? Cambridge Bay is a fly-in only community north of the treeline and well within the Arctic circle. We’ve got a population of 1500 people, mostly Inuit. The community has two grocery stores, a hardware store, one bank, a post office, one restaurant, and a few government buildings. There are no bars, movie theatres, or shopping malls. It costs over $1000 one way to fly to the closest community. Despite that, there’s a lot going on here. We make our own fun at home.
What makes your home offbeat? We live in the Arctic. It’s a beautiful but harsh environment up here, so we’ve gotten ourselves a cozy little place to keep us warm, safe, and happy — just like a cottage, but instead of by the lake or in the woods, in the middle of the Arctic tundra, by a frozen Arctic Ocean.
We’ve found that the modern ultra sleek style of interior decoration doesn’t really suit us. We want to feel like we’re living at the cottage: a collection of vintage furniture passed down by one’s grandfather, old-fashioned china tea sets inherited by one’s grandmother.
We like the warm look of wood, which is why we adore the fake wood panel flooring and the wooden kitchen cupboards. We like our spaces to look lived in by real people. We don’t want our space to scream luxury or wealth; we want it to whisper “comfort” while handing you a hot cup of crowberry tea.
What’s the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? Our bathroom is raised by a half story because the septic tank runs underneath. As I found out one day when I ran out of water, the ground is too frozen to install sewage pipes. Instead, the running water is delivered by truck, and the sewage is carted away by a different truck. So in our house, the bathroom is raised from the ground so the sewage tank can be stored underneath. And because we need to have our water delivered to us by delivery truck, sometimes we run out of water.
The Arctic environment outside is full of extremes. In the winter, we get 24 hours of darkness. In the summer, we get 24 hours of daylight. It’s extremely disorienting if you’re not used to it.
Also, it can get as cold as -60 degrees Celsius, and the air is extremely dry. (You especially need a lot of storage space for lotion.)
But the people of Nunavut have been living in the Arctic for centuries, and they adapt. We’ve learned to deal with it too.
- We’ve got a humidifier running at all times.
- We store large containers of extra water, as well as other supplies in case the power goes out for a long time.
- We’ve got an electric blanket.
- And right now in the summer, since it’s virtually daylight all the time, we’ve stuck cardboard over the windows to block out the sunlight, so we can sleep at “night.” It’s not the classiest look, but it’s about survival.
What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our jam space. We’ve got guitars, keyboards, amps, and all sorts of instruments all set up for recording and jamming. You’d think we were in a downtown music studio. You would never expect that just outside our window is the Arctic wilderness.
My second favourite feature, however, is the fact that we can see the northern lights from our living room window. Some people pay thousands of dollars to travel to the northern wilderness on packaged tours to see this incredible sight. Me, I just pull up a chair, turn off the living room lights, and watch the sky from my window while I eat midnight toast.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? It’s all about adapting. Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable in a harsh environment – for example, buy lots of fun board games to play and a treadmill for when it’s too cold to go outside.
For the things you can’t change, learn to appreciate it. We may be far away from the movie theatres, but being so close to nature means that I can watch the night sky instead.
What’s your grandest plan for the space? Turning it into a venue for house shows! I already played a show that was streamed over YouTube as part of a music series called Tuestock, but I’d like to set up some house shows where people in the community can enjoy live music in the unique setting of a home. Kind of like what they did in Portland in the 90s, except in the Arctic instead.
What advice do you have for other offbeat homies?
Any stuff or services you want to recommend? We’ve got some talented Inuit artists that sell their artwork here, such as carvings and prints… not sure that they’ve got online businesses that other readers can order from. Readers will just have to come to Cambridge Bay!
Show me the decor porn!