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Clinton Point Station by George Cousins

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Clinton Point was a small promontory on the coast of the Arctic Ocean in the Canadian North-West Territories. It’s main claim to fame was that it was quite flat and therefore ideally suited to set up the control station for our 1955 survey operations in the NWT and Yukon, as well as the offshore Arctic Islands. Our first task was to set up a livable camp that also could house all our communications and short range radar gear, as this site would provide the control for a string of other stations manned by two or three men crews all over the area. We had just set up the Jamesway huts when a fierce gale came along and pretty well destroyed them. The next attempt was more successful and gave us time to gather all the rocks we could manage, to weigh down the pre-fabricated plywood floors. All this stuff came in by a combination of seaplane in the ocean and dragging it up the cliffs to the flat ground, and also by parachute drop, until we managed to get a strip that was safe enough to land Dakota transports.
The land behind the huts was Arctic tundra which stretched about 400 miles south until meeting the first vestiges of a tree line. Our first blizzard was around August 25th. just before this photo was taken. We stuck around until mid-September when the weather became unsuitable for high-altitude photography, and then we moved the operation southward, following the weather until finally we had to call it quits for another season.

Photo taken in August, 1955, with an Exakta Varex 35mm.SLR, probably using Ektachrome film if memory serves me. F 2,0 Biotar lens. Scanned in 2004 with a Canoscan 4000dpi scanner.

Tags

seaplanes, territories, ocean, weather, canada, point, west, north, george, storms, communications, survey, arctic, cousins, clinton, tundra, transports

Comments

  • georgieboy98
    georgieboy98about 5 years ago

    They say that every picture tells a story and this one certainly does just that. Aided by your wonderful written description of course! What a windswept outpost this looks to be and your great slide has stood the test of time very well. Even back in those days you were remembering – and using – the basic composition rules and that, to me, makes it a great shot indeed. Regards, Peter

  • George Cousins
    George Cousinsabout 5 years ago

    Many thanks for the comments Peter, and glad you liked the story. I was quite happy that all my slides from up in the Arctic really held up very well. I kept them in Kodak Carousel trays and the trays stayed inside their boxes except for a slide show now and then, so they tolerated the years quite well. I didn’t know much about composition in those days but I always thought having a person in the scene really gave it more “life”, and I liked the white canvas picking up the evening light.Also,I think just the vastness of the tundra added a bit to the scene.
    All the best, George

  • ourjrny
    ourjrnyabout 5 years ago

    I love your fascinating story George!! Imagine you were doing all this the year I was born. Mahalo nui, thank you so much for the historic account, I very much enjoyed reading it and viewing your wonderful image.

  • Many thanks Sharon, I’m glad you enjoyed both the image and the write-up. That place was much the same as the north slope of Alaska, if you’ve been that far North. Unfortunately, the tundra is slowly melting with climate change and I think in another few years the whole landscape will suffer greatly. It was desolate in those days, but also had a pristine beauty that had to be seen and lived in, to believe. That picture was taken in late August 1955 and I was married on September 10,1955. It was courtship carried on through letters and radio communication:) But it lasted 43 years, so maybe that had something to do with the bonding process..LOL! Glad to hear from you again!

    – George Cousins

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