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Frank and Martha Kudlak are the oldest married couple currently in Sachs Harbour, where they have lived since 1957. - John Curran/NNSL photo

A half-century in Sachs

John Curran
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 27, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Frank and Martha Kudlak have been living in Sachs Harbour for the past 50 years.

They've seen many changes in the world since growing up on the land near the Victoria Island community of Holman.

News/North sat down with them in their home community recently to talk about their lives together and the community they love.

News/North: So, how old are you now if you don't mind saying?

Martha: I'm 75 and Frank will be 77 on Dec. 24.

N/N: Did you get married in Sachs or before you moved here?

Frank: Before, it was in 1950 and we didn't move here until 1957.

M: We're the oldest married couple in town now.

N/N: What was it like picking up everything to move here?

M: What a trip it was. There were no planes for us back then, we had to cross the ocean by dog team and it took a long time. It was our four kids and the two of us - we had them before we moved here.

N/N: Why did you decide to make the move?

M: Frank wanted us to come, because of all the Arctic foxes here that he could trap and sell to the Hudson's Bay Company. They would pay about $20 a fox here but in Holman you could only get about $3 apiece. It took a lot of foxes to survive at that price.

N/N: How big was Sachs Harbour when you arrived?

F: There were lots of people around here, they all came to hunt and then trade their furs. We never really thought of counting how many people there were, but after being out on the land, I remember thinking how there were so many here - living around the area.

N/N: What was life like then - did you build a house when you arrived in Sachs?

M: No, it was still hard at times. We lived in a frame tent for two or three years. The hunting and fishing were good here, but there wasn't much of anything else back in those days.

N/N: The fur trade collapsed not many years after you came to Sachs, what did you do then?

M: In 1968, they built the school here and right away Frank got a job as the janitor. He was there cleaning and doing maintenance work for almost 30 years until he retired in 1995.

F: It was a good living, but a lot different than the one I knew before. It took a little while to get used to it.

N/N: What are the biggest changes you've seen here in the community over the last 50 years?

F: There are just so many houses now - everybody lives in a house today.

M: There are lots of trucks and other vehicles here now, too.

N/N: What about the weather, has it changed much over the years?

M: Sure it has, it's a lot warmer than it used to be. We're not used to it being so hot. All you can do is sit in the living room with the windows open and let the breeze blow through to stay cool. There's a lot more erosion now along the shore and we can see the land starting to change here.

N/N: Do you think life is better now than it used to be?

M: It's different. It's not better or worse, just different.

F: It doesn't really matter which one, then or now, is better. We can't go back to the way it used to be. Nobody's going to live in snow houses the way we used to live. You have to look ahead, not back.