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Snow machines at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Maggie Cole photo

Snow machines in the twilight at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Maggie Cole photo.

by Jean Tanguay

All the guests at Churchill Wild have the privilege to experience an adventure out in the wild where there are no roads and no railroads, only the great outdoors – quiet, remote and calm.  But they deserve to be as comfortable as in a nice hotel in town. To achieve that requires a behind-the-scenes person who takes care of all the comforts for the guests: The Maintenance Man.

I recently retired and took advantage of the opportunity to work the past  two seasons as maintenance man, at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in 2021, and at Dymond Lake Ecolodge in 2022.  My job is to make sure all the guests and staff are supplied with heat, water and light at all times.

Here is an example of the chores that I have to do in a day:

In the morning, I check the level of the batteries and start the generator. Next, light the stoves, shovel the decks and stairs and put salt if needed, check the propane bottles and replace the empty ones. When the batteries are fully charged, I turn the generator off and let the sun do the rest.

At Dymond Lake, I have to pump water from the lake every day to fill the big water tanks in each of the three buildings. I have to make a hole in the ice, unroll four long fireman hoses, and pump water with a gasoline pump. Fortunately, there is a well at Nanuk, so no need to pump water, until everything freezes. To keep everyone warm, I have to cut firewood, split it, and keep the wood boxes full, as well as make kindling.

The shop is well supplied for keeping the vehicles running smoothly: tractor, six-wheelers, snow machines, and generators. With the tractor, I have to clear the snow from the gates and the runway, and transport diesel drums and propane bottles.

On changeover days, I load and unload the airplanes and bring guest luggage to the correct rooms. Whenever there is something broken in the kitchen or in a guest room, I get a call and go to fix it.

The days are long and busy, but working outside in such a great environment is fantastic. I have the opportunity to observe polar bears every day as they come close to the lodge; and wolves are another fascinating local animal. Once in a while I get the chance to go out with the guides and guests to walk toward the polar bears: a unique experience, WOW! And having the chance to see northern lights on a clear night is a tremendous show.

Every day as a maintenance man at Churchill Wild? What’s it really like?

Great experience. With great people.

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