Northern exposure

When I packed for Labrador City, Canada I assumed it would be cold considering it was January. My immediate associations with this sprawling country are: Mounties, maple syrup and snow. I checked the weather on the internet and sure enough there was snow, plenty of it, and no shortage of minus figures on the thermostat. Our first introduction to the cold was waiting for the courtesy bus outside the airport in Montreal, a pleasant minus eleven to break us in gently. I checked the internet again at the hotel to see what the temperature was in Labrador and knew I was in trouble.

The next day we arrived and toured the mine at Iron Ore Company of Canada. We stepped out of the vehicle to view the pit from the lookout point and I was pole-axed by the cold. We were told later the temperature had plummeted to minus 31 centigrade with a windchill factor of minus 40. Standing on the lip of the Humphrey mine with the wind ripping through my clothes it felt more like minus 100 (yes, it can get that cold) but that might have something to do with packing the appropriate clothing. Somehow a fine woollen coat from Marks and Sparks doesn't perform well in Arctic weather.

Mark and I were amazed at how the people cope with the cold. Working with your hands in this temperature just seems impossible. It is an unforgiving environment in the winter, and yet we were told winter is a good season for production.

It was a short visit to the mine and Labrador City, but I will return, even if it is just to try out the skidoos that were wizzing through the town.

Chris Jones