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Ellesmere Island Rocked by Powerful Earthquake

Ellesmere Island, the northernmost land mass in Canada, has been hit by the strongest earthquake ever measured in the history of the world, causing an estimated 200 dollars in damage and rendering at least seven lemmings homeless.

Registering a 9.6 on the Richter scale, the quake produced the highest recording ever by the earthquake-magnitude measuring device, surpassing the previous high of 9.5 attributed to an earthquake in Chile that killed 5,000 people in 1960.

Although there were no reported human casualties as of press time, the awesome power of nature demonstrated by the Ellesmere quake left the island's three permanent residents scurrying into nearby snow banks in the broad daylight of the harsh Arctic night.

"It was awful, the scariest thing I've ever lived through," said Ellesmere convenience store operator Sheryl Chalmers, who stubbed a toe "pretty bad" during the tremor.

"A box of cereal fell to the floor and got dented, the jar of mayonnaise was chipped, I was cleaning up the mess for a good 20 minutes……just brutal."

According to Military officials posted to the island against their will, the most severe damage from the earthquake was to Glacier M-3465, on the island's West coast.

"Glaciers M-3465 and WX-278 both sustained considerable damage as a result of the earthquake," said Bob Beaudry of the Department of National Defense's Geological Survey.

The "very, very, very lonely" Beaudry described the damage as some of the worst glacier cracking and snow displacement in the 17 years that he has been stationed on this island, located "just minutes" south of the North Pole, according to tourism brochures issued by island officials.

The population of Ellesmere Island, plus a visiting relative, prepapre to inspect earthquake damage at Ellesmere Island National Park Reserve in preparation for peak visitor season.

"Not to mention the noise pollution from all that seal barking," added Beaudry.

Beaudry also mentioned that a weather station located on the island's southern plateau near Ice Field #31 probably suffered some sort of damage, although he hasn't been able to get to it in months due to snow accumulation.

In the wake of the damage, Ellesmere community activists are pleading for federal assistance:

"Just look around here…..look at the carnage," said longtime Ellesmere resident and President of the Ellesmere Chamber of Commerce Jena Lewis.

pre-earthquake (left) and post (right) footage of Ellesmere Island's Lake Hazen.

Lewis, who is also, amongst other titles, the island's chief archivist, promotions coordinator, Vice-President of Tourism and dry cleaner, urged the Prime Minister to tour the area so that he can "witness the destruction, and declare Ellesmere Island to be in a state of emergency, so we can start rebuilding our lives."

"Providing we can find some place where one of those real big planes that he flies in can land…." added Lewis, her voice trailing off as she stared out her window into the barren landscape.

This is the first time Ellesmere Island has been in the national news since it made history in 1984 by becoming the first jurisdiction in the world to have a polar bear hold public office, when Sascha the polar bear was acclaimed as municipal councilor for the community of Alert, at the island's extreme northern tip.

Posted on August 24th, 2001

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