Cape Krusenstern, (Nuvuk), NWT (NU)

Profile of an Inuit Trading Site 1935 -1947

68 degrees, 23' N 113 degrees 55' W




Agnes Semmler


Slim Sells “A little old store on main street.” (Inuvialuit magazine - Spring, 1983.)

Semmler’s store, an Inuvik landmark since the founding of the town in the late 1950’s, has been sold to three Inuvik businessmen; Jim Robertson, Willard Hagen and Edward Lennie. The announcement was made in February of this year. Slim Semmler’s first Inuvik store was a tent down by the East Channel of the Mackenzie. It was the town’s one store for a year until the [Hudson’s’] Bay moved to Inuvik. After a few years, the present store on Inuvik’s main street was built, and Slim Semmler has been there since, despite a serious fire last year which did extensive damage to the stock and building.
Slim and Agnes Semmler are among the Arctic’s best known and loved figures. Slim was born in Newburg, Oregon in 1900. He hoboed around the United States and Canada and ended up homesteading in Alberta. (He nearly starved to death, says Agnes.) In 1921, he became a Canadian citizen, and in 1927, giving up on homesteading, he headed north. He worked his way down the Mackenzie on a schooner and ended up being let off at Young Point, on Coronation gulf. He was alone and the only person within many miles.
There he began trapping. The following year on a visit to the Hudson Bay Company Post and the RCMP station at Bernard Harbour, he met Agnes. [Agnes version…]. They were married in 1930[‘32].
[After leaving Coppermine], Slim’s first store opened at Cape Krusenstern in 1929. In the past 54 years, Semmler’s Stores have been found in Read Island, Richardson Island, Cambridge Bay, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, and Napoyak Channel, where he and Agnes had a mink ranch before coming to Inuvik during the second year of [Inuvik’s] construction.
How does Slim feel about his upcoming retirement from the running of a general store? “Well,” he says, “A person would like to continue, naturally, but I feel quite satisfied.”
What will he do with himself once he no longer has his store? “Sleep,” he says with a laugh. But then he adds in the same breath, that “This will be the best end of town. It will be the centre some day.” Asked if he would do it all over again the same way, Slim laughed again. “I’m glad to be off that coast. I wouldn’t do that again. When you’re young, you’re crazy.”

In Communication and culture in the western Arctic – A case study on the growth of Inuvialuit controlled broadcasting (1986).

“I remember, I bought my first radio with a cross fox [that I traded and which I got] from the minister [Rev Webster] in Coppermine. I was listening to the war going on. You didn’t know what was going on unless you had a radio.” Agnes Semmler, Inuvik. (Lougheed, 1986, p.14)




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