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Hotel managers bid adieu to Whale Cove

PEI couple opened first restaurant in community in 2019
Randy Baglole works on some delicious offerings while in Whale Cove. A new team is being trained now to take over management of the hotel and restaurant. Photo courtesy of Alison Daly

Alison Daly’s son was working on renovations to Whale Cove’s Tavani Inn in 2019 when he overheard that Arctic Co-operatives was looking for someone to come up for a couple of months to run the hotel and open the restaurant.

“He called us and said, what do you guys think of coming up to Whale Cove?” recalls Daly.

The next thing she knew, she and Randy Baglole were on a plane to the community, their first time in Nunavut.

“It was the first time they’ve had a restaurant in this community,” said Baglole, who had experience working as a cook before, while Daly took on the hotel duties.

“They really support the restaurant up here.”

The third day of its opening, the restaurant did more than $6,000 in sales. It since gained a loyal following in the community of 435.

Daly and Baglole bounced around several Nunavut communities in the time since, helping with restaurant and hotel duties in Gjoa Haven as well, but on March 9, they officially bid adieu to Whale Cove.

“We’ve had some amazing times,” said Daly. “We’ve done two grad banquets here, which were absolutely amazing. It was such an honour to see the young kids graduating from high school.”

The pair will fondly remember some of the hotel’s staff and regular customers, saying it was a very friendly community.

They also enjoyed meeting travellers through the hotel and getting a “bird’s-eye” perspective on how things operate in the North with fly-in court and medical treatment, services often taken for granted in the south.

Running a hotel and restaurant in Nunavut came with its own challenges though, primarily the wait times for produce and equipment to be shipped in.

“If there’s a storm and we don’t get a plane, then we don’t get fresh produce for the restaurant,” said Daly.

Coming from Prince Edward Island, Baglole said Nunavut wasn’t what he expected, but it was better than he expected.

“There’s a lot I didn’t realize before I came up here,” he said, maligning the fact he never did see a whale in Whale Cove.

Daly said she will miss the community members.

“You get to the point where people come in regularly and you know their names, you know their kids,” she said. “It’s just fun being part of a community.”

The hotel officially closed its restaurant March 5 with the pair’s departure. New management is taking over now, and they’re seeking a cook to get the restaurant back up and running.

Baglole and Daly said they plan to visit Nunavut again after getting a taste for the North.