September 13, 2012

The Great "Northern"

One of the first places I visited after arriving in Rankin Inlet was the Northern. Selling everything from clothing to groceries, sporting goods to sewing materials, it is a "general store" in the purest sense and harkens back to the day, centuries ago, when a trading post like the Hudson's Bay Company was the only business in town. As at the Hudson's Bay Company of old, here you can buy tanned furs and skins, which I understand are sold by hunters in the local community. (Prices range from $30 for a siksik, or groundhog, to $150 for a fox.)

I was more interested in checking out the prices of groceries, which I had heard were astronomical in the far North. Much to my surprise, not everything was radically more expensive than in Edmonton. Sure, a pineapple would set you back $10 and a cucumber $3.50. And a pound of apples is $5.99, but other things like luncheon meats and nuts are about the same price as further South. 

What did astound me, though, was the price of milk in Rankin: $9.29 a gallon as you can see below—and that's down from $13.39! Even at the reduced rate that's still more than twice the price as in Edmonton, which might be one reason why mothers in the North have such high rates of breastfeeding.

Still, I can't really blame them for charging so much. After all, the nearest dairy cows are probably 1,000 km away by air, and milk only keeps about 10 days. 

P.S. Just after taking this photo, I was chewed out by a manager at the Northern, who didn't want me taking pictures because: "People post them on Facebook without any context." OK, well, I *did* post it on Facebook, but I like to think I provided a little context.

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