August 18, 2011

Iqaluit Signage

The North-West Territories introduced a unique bear-shaped license plate in 1970. When Nunavut split off in 1999, both territories opted to keep the design. Recently, the NWT announced that the machinery used to manufacture the plates needs to be replaced, so both territories are taking the opportunity to update their designs. The bear-shape is popular, so it seems likely that at least one of the territories will keep it.

The flag of Nunavut is quite unusual, from a vexillological point of view. (Vexillology: the study of flags. New word!) Flags in former British colonies (including Canada) tend to follow heraldic rules, and this one doesn't at all. In particular, having white and yellow as adjacent parts of the background and having a black border around the inukshuk are quite unusual. The position of the star has also been criticized, since it tends to be concealed when a flag is hanging (the original design had it on the other side, by the flag-pole). On flags that have been outdoors for some time, sometimes one only sees the inukshuk on a light background, with the other colors faded.

Until 2003, Iqaluit had no street names. Every building in Iqaluit has a unique number, rather than the same numbers being reused on every street. The newest buildings are in the 5200s. Most streets and neighborhoods have sequential numbers; for example, the 3000s are all in Apex, the downtown core is all in the lower 1000s, and particular blocks of 100 are usually used for adjacent buildings on one or two streets. There's a city-wide taxi service (phone from anywhere, and a taxi will arrive in under 5 minutes), whose drivers are trained to memorize the locations of all the building numbers. Many of the larger buildings have a unique name as well (some in Inuktituk, some in English), so one can say "Take me to Long View, please." or "I'm going to 517A.", and no street name is needed. (Or understood: giving the street name will just get you a blank look.) Nonetheless, in 2003 street names were assigned, and street signs put up. All the street signs, including stop signs, use both the Roman alphabet and the Inuktitut syllabary. (Image) There's one road called (accurately) 'The Road to Nowhere'. Unfortunately, the sign has already been stolen, so I don't have a picture for you.

Signs in the Sylvia Grinnell park use figures dressed in traditional clothing to convey messages such as "Don't litter", "Beware, bears", and "Stay on the path". Wish I'd taken a picture of the Beware of Bears one.

Random amusing sign.


At August 21, 2011, Anonymous Peter said...

Wasn't there some question about the number of legs appearing on the polar bear in some cases? Do you have any photos of that?

At August 24, 2011, Blogger JeremyHussell said...

I can find no evidence for this. Possibly an urban myth? The NWT and Nunavut license plates are made by the same machines, and the NWT polar bear plates appear to have had four legs since they were introduced in 1970.


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