When the SS Manhattan, the first oil tanker ever to cross the Northwest Passage, came through Pond Inlet in 1969, Joseph Komangapik went out in front of it and began to build an igloo.
This photograph was taken by Leigh Britnell, who wrote a message on the back of it, “For a joke, I got Joseph Komangapik . . . to start an igloo in its path. This picture ran in many big newspapers across Canada. It’s a sort of statement, ‘Hold on, see what your ‘development’ is doing in our backyard.'” I saw this photograph when Brian Koonoo posted it on Facebook. Thank you Brian for letting me share this moment from your father’s life.
The history books tell us about the ship; it arrived in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to take on just one ceremonial barrel of oil before returning south. Along the way, Manhattan’s sailors gave out fruit and ice cream and took lots of pictures of the kids. But those individual moments don’t speak to the significance of the ship’s overall purpose, which is as hotly debated today- with today’s ships – as it ever was.
Whether or not the idea started as a joke, this image strikes me to the core. It’s timeless.
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