I am back amid fiery maples and scarlet sumac. It has been close to a decade since I experienced an Ottawa autumn, and I love it as much as I ever did. Fall was always my favourite season: not too hot, not too cold, and gloriously alive with colour.
(It’s no coincidence my wedding anniversary is in October, at the height of Ontario fall. This year — just how did this happen?! I’m not old enough for this! — we will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.)
A week ago today, I was leaving Ottawa. With Michael at my side, and the kids safely ensconced at his parents’ house, we boarded a First Air plane and flew to Iqaluit, Nunavut. Iqaluit is the capital of Canada’s newest territory (formed in 1999), and a vital part of my own history. I spent two years at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, graduating with the class of 1995. Those two years went by in a flash, but made a lasting impression on my life.
I haven’t been back since my sister’s graduation in 1996. I’ve always wanted to visit again, but flying to and from Nunavut is prohibitively expensive. For this trip, I was invited to perform at a conference, and I jumped at the opportunity.
It was an amazing trip, revisiting familiar haunts, reconnecting with friends, exploring all the new areas of the much-expanded city, and finding musical opportunities at every turn.
Thursday, it was karaoke at the Legion with some of my high school classmates. Friday, I gave my very first house concert (with Grant Simpson from Whitehorse!) at my former music teacher’s house. Sunday there was a musical coffeehouse at the Francophone Association in the afternoon and then the conference performance we were hired to do, a “mini Frantic Follies”to give conference delegates a taste of the other end of northern Canada.
Now we’re all back in Ottawa. Grant and I will be playing (four sets!) at the Options Jazz Lounge this Saturday evening, and then we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. This trip has been warm and wonderful makes me appreciate more than ever how much I have to be thankful for.
‘Tis autumn . . . and it’s still my favourite season.
First glimpse of the Iqaluit airport
Best boat name ever
My old stomping grounds
Bilingual stop (Harper) sign.
A coast guard boat in Frobisher Bay, with an inverted qamutik (traditional sled) in the foreground
It’s always fresh in Inuktitut
St. Jude’s Anglican church in Iqaluit has always had this unique “igloo-with-a-steeple” design, but the original wooden one burned down. This new (bigger) incarnation was completed earlier this year.