The front page of Nunatsiaq News from July 5, 1985. (File photo)

Yesterday’s News: Arctic Ventures store changes hands

A weekly look through a half-century of front pages as Nunatsiaq News celebrates 50 years of serving the North

By Nunatsiaq News

When Kenn Harper went shopping in July 1985, he bought the whole store.

The big news in the July 5, 1985, edition of Nunatsiaq News was the sale of Iqaluit’s Arctic Ventures store to High Arctic Enterprises, owned solely by Harper, a businessman, linguist and historian.

Harper would later also be well known to readers of Nunatsiaq News for his popular Taissumani history column.

As Nunatsiaq News celebrates 50 years of providing news coverage to Nunavut and Nunavik, we are looking back over some of the front pages from the past five decades.

The sale of one of the big shopping stores is big news in any community, especially in a small one like Iqaluit (which back then was still called Frobisher Bay).

In discussing the sale with Nunatsiaq News in July 1985, former owner Bryan Pearson — himself an iconic figure in the city’s history — called it the “end of an era for me.”

“There’s no rush … I have no big plans. I’m just gathering my wits about me and trying to slow down and find time to do other more interesting things with less pressure, less stress,” he said.

Pearson, who died in 2016, is known for being Iqaluit’s first mayor and founder of the Toonik Tyme festival. He also started the city’s first taxi service, at one time was its only undertaker, and he owned its only movie theatre, the Astro Theatre.

With other shareholders, Pearson started Arctic Ventures in Apex in 1957 for marine work and expanded into general contracting. At that time, the U.S. military was still based in Frobisher Bay and Bell Canada wouldn’t offer telephone exchange service there for another year.

The Arctic Ventures store opened in 1968 and remains one of the city’s shopping hubs to this day.

On a lighter note, the July 5, 1985, front page includes a cute photo of some Iqaluit children getting ready to join in a tire-jump race during Canada Day celebrations.

Unfortunately, none of the kids’ names were included in the caption but possibly readers might recognize one of them.

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