‘Santa’s neighbors’ make a home out of one of the most remote places on earth

The World

See a gallery of photos from CFS Alert at TheWorld.org.

If you think it’s cold and snowy where you are today, don’t talk to Canadian Forces Major Andre Delhommou.

Delhommou is stationed at CFS Alert, the northernmost year-round residence in the world. Alert is on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island — across the frozen Lincoln Sea you can see Greenland.

“It’s not too bad today,” Delhommou said.

On Wednesday, it was pitch black, and the temperature was -18 degrees Celsius, or about -1 Fahrenheit. In fact, it will remain pitch black until March. The sun set on Oct. 14. Come summer, the place will have daylight year round.

“You can’t see the surrounding areas, but the stars are absolutely spectacular when it’s clear,” Delhommou said.

Alert is about 500 miles from the magnetic North Pole. In fact, the crew stationed there call themselves “Santa’s closest neighbors.” Comparatively, it’s about 2600 miles from the capital of Canada — Ottawa. It’s the place on Earth closest to the pole that’s actually land. Everything further north is merely ice sheets.

“Our closest neighbors are about 500 kilometers south of us,” Delhommou said.

About 70 people call the station home, supporting the military base.

Musk Ox, caribou, arctic foxes and arctic wolves all call the area home as well. Occasionally, a polar bear will wander through as well.

Delhommou said sports and recreation equipment are used quite a bit at the station, to ward off getting cabin fever.

“We’re going to have our own hockey tournament for a few days,” he said. “We play cards in the evening, watch movies, we definitely keep busy.”

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