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Our Lady of Lourdes schooner

This view shows the Our Lady of Lourdes schooner on display in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories overlooking the Arctic coast.  Donated on behalf of Pope Pius XI in the 1930s, the schooner Our Lady of Lourdes sailed the Beaufort Sea for decades, delivering supplies to far-flung Catholic missions and carrying Inuvialuit children to Cathloic residential schools. Since 1982 the vessel has sat on display near Tuktoyaktuk's Catholic mission.  More info below:


Bishop Gabriel Breynat raised the necessary $20,000 cost of construction for a suitable vessel from the Church in Rome. They placed the order with C. T. Pedersen for a 60' vessel (the largest ever brought to the Arctic by Pedersen.) She was to be about 15' in beam and 5' in depth. She was delivered in the manner of the other Eskimo trading schooners. "During a visit to Herschel Island with St. Roch we anchored next to the Oblate Fathers' mission ship, Our Lady of Lourdes. Captain Pedersen had bought her in San Francisco and brought her in on the deck of Patterson a few years earlier. How Pedersen had managed to unload the boat at Herschel Island was beyond my comprehension, but then he was an old whaling skipper and was used to handling this sort of thing." (Larsen, Henry, Frank Sheer & Edward Omholt-Jensen. 1967). Her white and blue hull moved at about 8 knots. She was flush decked and appeared like the other trading schooners. She had one mast and carried a gaff-rigged mainsail and jib which could be used to save fuel or when time was not particularly important. She was initially based at Lettie Harbour. Later she was based at Paulatuk and eventually moved to Tuktoyaktuk in 1940. She would take mission supplies out in the spring and bringing school children in the fall to residential school in Aklavik and some went on to Hay River. The children didn't travel home to their parents very often. Many older people in the Western Arctic told Johansson that they were kept in the mission school for seven or eigt years before returning home to see their parents. In 1941 she was carrying Bishop Joseph Trocellier, four Oblate Fathers, an Eskimo guide and five children and were stranded by ice on the coast. They managed to make an escape by dog team, overland to Tuktoyaktuk when the weather conditions improved. She was essential to the operation of the Mission. In the winter they couldn't live without the dogs. In the summer the same was true of the Our Lady of Lourdes. She was used from 1931 to about 1955. At the end of her life she was given first to Eddie Grueben, Eddie. but he discovered that she had never been properly registered or the import duty declared and paid to the RCMP when she was delivered. He would have been responsible for the payment after 30 thirty years so he declined the offer. When she was pulled out of the water, with heavy tractors, the keel became trapped by a log on the beach. The continued to pull on her until the keel snapped near the rudder. She was never put back in the water after that time as the repairs were considered too costly for such an old ship. A DEW Line helicopter moved her in 1967 to a storage pad in Tuktoyaktuk. In 1978 crews from Dome Petroleum blocked her up and painted her and put a bronze plaque in front of her as a monument at Tuktoyaktuk. That happened with the Our Lady of Lourdes, the Roman Catholic Church mission ship brought up to the Arctic in exactly the same manner as the North Star. When they were finished using her they offered her to Eddie Grueben, Eddie at Tuktoyaktuk. He learned that if he accepted her he would be liable for the import duties payable forty years before when she was originally imported from the United States. She wasn't worth it by that time so she was pulled up on the beach as an exhibit instead.


The lone out-of-place grave in front of the schooner is that of Father Robert Le Meur.  He left his native France in 1946 to serve Canada's North. For nearly 40 years until his death, he devoted himself unstintingly to the Inuit population as an educator, advisor and friend. Radio station CFCT of Tuktoyaktuk, which he founded and for which he was the main on-air personality, was at the heart of his efforts to preserve and promote this Aboriginal culture.  His headstone reads the following:


Father Robert LeMeur


Nov. 18, 1920 - July 15, 1985

There is no better love than to give one's life for one's friends




More About Canada

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, in the province of Ontario. There are offically ten provinces and three territories in Canada, which is the second largest country in the world in terms of land area.While politically and legally an independant nation, the titular head of state for Canada is still Queen Elizabeth.On the east end of Canada, you have Montreal as the bastion of activity. Montreal is famous for two things, VICE magazine and the Montreal Jazz Festival. One is the bible of hipster life (disposable, of course) and the other is a world-famous event that draws more than two million people every summer. Quebec is a French speaking province that has almost seceded from Canada on several occasions, by the way..When you think of Canada, you think of . . . snow, right?But not on the West Coast. In Vancouver, it rains. And you'll find more of the population speaking Mandarin than French (but also Punjabi, Tagalog, Korean, Farsi, German, and much more).Like the other big cities in Canada, Vancouver is vividly multicultural and Vancouverites are very, very serious about their coffee.Your standard Vancouverite can be found attired head-to-toe in Lululemon gear, mainlining Cafe Artigiano Americanos (spot the irony for ten points).But here's a Vancouver secret only the coolest kids know: the best sandwiches in the city aren't found downtown. Actually, they're hidden in Edgemont Village at the foot of Grouse Mountain on the North Shore."It's actually worth coming to Canada for these sandwiches alone." -- Michelle Superle, VancouverText by Steve Smith.

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