This one-time northerner brought a piece of Inuvik to Ontario and transformed it into art

·2 min read

Kelly Kamo McHugh never had much interest in plants before she moved to the Northwest Territories.

But after calling Inuvik, N.W.T., home for five years and having now returned to Ontario, she decided to transform some of her fragrant memories into art.

It all started with her friend, who had a love for northern botanicals.

"Her passion for Arctic plants was so contagious that I couldn't help getting interested in them," McHugh said.

"I started to notice plants more around town, especially when I was walking the Boot Lake Trail with my dog."

And so began her collection.

Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh
Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh

Pressed plants

Her business is called Boot Lake Botanicals, a name inspired by the boot-shaped lake in Inuvik, an area where she collected some of the greenery. She also gathered them in Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik.

McHugh then pressed the plants she harvested and scanned them into prints.

Some of the pieces include a few words, including the scientific name, its locally-known name and where it grew.

McHugh limited her plant-picking to non-endangered vegetation that seemed abundant in the area, she said. During her time in the N.W.T., she had even set up a booth at the 2018 Christmas craft fair in Inuvik.

"I had a lot of support from the community. It was really nice," she said.

It's been a multi-year process to get her artwork ready for selling online, she says, but she's finally open for business. She says so far, it's going well.

"People seem to really, really like the plants. I think they like the story behind Boot Lake Botanicals," she said.

Missing the North

It does make her miss the North, she added.

"I miss Inuvik a lot. I really enjoyed my time there," McHugh said.

"I hope to come back one day soon. But, you know, I moved away to be closer to my family. So it's hard to be in both places at once."

Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh
Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh