poetry and prose about place

monuments in stone

with 6 comments

inuksuk n. (plural inuksuit) a stone landmark or cairn used by Arctic and northern peoples to mark a point of reference or a place of significance; an Inuit cultural symbol.

inunnguaq n. (plural inunnguat) a stone cairn in the shape of a human figure, meant to represent a human figure, and distinguished from an inuksuk.


Our rock project is progressing slowly.  We are collecting rocks for a stone monument.  Since I want this to be a sculptural piece, I am sure the rocks we select will play a role in the final look of the monument.

One possibiity is to build an inuksuk.  These stone landmarks are a part of the culture of the north, but they have caught the general imagination and are now encountered throughout Canada.  On our trip out west, the inuksuk built along the Trans-Canada highway in Manitoba were particularly memorable.

For a few years, the inuksuk (plural inuksuit) and inunnguaq were common along the New Maryland highway in New Brunswick.  On the stretch of road between New Maryland and Fredericton, the highway is carved through rock and outcrops are part of the roadscape.  A women who walked along the road every morning for a few years was responsible for building many of the inuksuit.  The local newspaper did a story on her, explaining that she walked and built the monuments as exercise following by-pass surgery.  She wore a white jogging outfit with black splotches and was fondly referred to as the ‘Cow Lady’.  

The ‘Cow Lady’ no longer walks the road and her inuksuit and inunnguat have fallen into disrepair.  I remember her fondly and dedicate the poem below to her.


Inunnguaq 101


these are the hill people

sometimes without arms and legs

sometimes with other, alien parts

but proud

honor the woman who walks here


sometimes toppled

often reassembled

constructed one day at a time

optimism of increment

a community on the hillside


©  Jane Tims  2004

Written by jane tims

November 18, 2011 at 5:26 am

6 Responses

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  1. these are the hill people

    sometimes without arms and legs

    sometimes with other, alien parts

    but proud

    Excellent opening Jane! I think YOU should restart the tradition of building inuksuks along the Fredericton/Moncton Highway. You’ll be famous! Why, with my photography and journalism and your inuksuks, poetry and drawings we’d be a hit! … lol 🙂
    All kidding aside, excellent poem and drawing Jane. Maybe I should start pasting this line on every one of your blog posts …. lol. Save me a lot of typing.



    November 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    • Hi Denis. You are funny. When we get our inuksuk completed, you can photograph it! Thanks for the positive feedback. Jane


      jane tims

      November 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

  2. I never saw the ‘cow lady’, but I sure enjoyed her creations and was sad to see them disappear. Boy, I really love your sketches, Jane.



    November 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • Hi. Perhaps someone else will take up the call. I’m glad you like the sketches. Jane


      jane tims

      November 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  3. What a good tribute, Jane. So much wisdom and hope in your poem.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    November 18, 2011 at 9:51 am

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