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The Polar Bear Flute. Jean Tanguay photo.

The Polar Bear Flute. Jean Tanguay photo.

by Jean Tanguay

Jenna Rykurd, the expeditor for Churchill Wild in Churchill, was working for my son Francis at our home in Québec. She was turning flutes on a lathe and my son was tuning and carving them to make native style flutes. She told me that she had family in Churchill, that they had a business there, and she was going to work with polar bears.

Since I was newly retired and interested in what she was telling me, she added, “By the way they are looking for someone in maintenance.” Shortly after that I talked to Shari (Wright) and Mike (Reimer) and I was on my way to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge for the 2021 season.

The day before I left, my son gave me the wonderful black walnut flute he had been working on for the past week. It has a polar bear as the totem with the aurora borealis on his back, made of fuchsite embedded in the curly sugar maple wood. It is tuned in the key of D, which is supposed to be the tone of bears. A beautiful stone of labradorite is embedded on it. (Jenna also has a beautiful flute that she made with the help of Francis.)

Jean Tanguay plays the polar bear flute for guests at Dymond Lake Ecolodge.

Jean Tanguay plays the polar bear flute for guests at Dymond Lake Ecolodge.

I took the flute with me to Nanuk, played it for every group of guests, and explained the history of it. At Dymond Lake Ecolodge, I play the flute after the presentation on aurora borealis, saying that it calls for the aurora to appear that night (most of the time it works!).

The guests have been very impressed by the sound and beauty of the flute, as well as its history.

Francis also carves didgeridoos, as well as flutes made out of jade. For those who would like to get in touch with him or have a custom flute made, his contact information is below. Have to go now…

The northern lights are out!

Francis Tanguay Contact Information:
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