Renatus’ Kayak was a story waiting to be told. The book’s origin lies with a model sealskin kayak made by Renatus Tuglavina and given to Woody Belsheim in 1944 when Woody served as a radio operator at a secret American weather station in Hebron, Labrador. Knowledge of the weather station and Renatus’ life was lost to time until Junker began her quest, seventy years later, to discover what had happened to Renatus and his family, whose kindness had made Woody’s year-long posting in the sub-Arctic an adventure.
Renatus’ Kayak is a true story that seamlessly melds military history, Inuit culture, religion, politics and love. We learn about the rebellion against the Hudson’s Bay Company led by Renatus in 1933, his trial presided over by Abram Kean and the work by British naval Lt Cmdr Buck Baker to free him. We learn about the Ferry Command and the transfer of over 10,000 military aircraft to Europe during WWII. We follow Renatus’ family after relocation from Hebron to discover whether his daughter, Harriot, is still living. Moravian missionaries, Hudson’s Bay Company employees and Newfoundland Rangers all have a supporting role in this uniquely compelling history.