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Arctic Blast 2001

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igloo with Mr. Ladoon by Norbert Roskin

There are two kinds of igloos: walrus or sealskin tents for summer and huts or houses for winter. Winter houses are usually made of stone, with driftwood or whalebone frame, covered with moss or sod. The entrance is long and narrow just big enough to allow a person crawling on hands and knees to enter.


Though many people believe that all Inuit people live in snow igloos, only those of central and western Canada used them as long-term winter homes. Almost all inuit live in animal skin tents in the summer, and most dwell in sod houses in the winter. The Canadian inuit live in igloos for months at a time, with only soapstone lamps for warmth.

Igloo origins from
the inuit word "Iglu"
which means house!


During long journeys Canadian Inuit build winter houses of blocks of snow, formed in a dome shape. They were usually temporary winter shelters built when an inuit hunter and his family went on a hunting trip. A skilled hunter could build an igloo in less than an hour, using a special snow knife. Sometimes they actually made a window out of a block of ice or seal gut. An igloo could be any size, but normally they built them just big enough for the family to be inside, so it would warm up faster.

Such houses, rare in Greenland and unknown in Alaska, were once permanent winter houses of the Inuit of central and eastern Canada.

Our team will not sleep in igloos on their trip, but in tunnel tents that are very easy to set up and pack down, which is efficient when you are on the move in cold and harsh weather. Read more about their tents under bivybags!

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