Renatus' Kayak: The story of a Labrador Inuk, An American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station


Renatus' Kayak: The story of a Labrador Inuk, An American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station
By Rozanne Enerson Junker
215 pages
69 photographs/illustrations
ISBN 978-1-7750815-0-0

Woody Belsheim had one question when he gave his niece, Rozanne Enerson Junker, a miniature sealskin kayak made for him in 1944 by Inuit hunter Renatus Tuglavina: Would it be possible for you to find out what happened to Renatus ... and to his daughter, Harriot?  

Woody had seldom spoken about his World War II service when he and six other G.I.s manned a secret American weather station in Hebron, Labrador.  But sixty-five years later, and nearing the end of his life, he hoped to find out what had become of the Inuit family who had transformed what could have been a year of painful isolation into a year of unimaginable adventures.

Using the kayak as a spirit guide, Junker travelled thousands of miles across Canada, the United States and England. Each step along the way, stunning discoveries presented themselves:  the existence of a weather station lost to time, Renatus' larger than life footprint on Labrador history, and his and Harriot's tragic destinies.

Renatus' Kayak is a true detective story that delves into military history, Inuit culture, wartime politics and a star-crossed love.


"The story of Renatus Tuglavina and the secret American weather station in Hebron, Labrador is a story that ought to be told to our children and grandchildren. It is the story of an Inuk who led with courage and determination and wasn’t afraid to take a stand for what he believed was right. It is a lost story of the role Hebron played in World War II and a story of how our cultural heritage lives on long after we ourselves have passed."

- Johannes Lampe, President, Nunatsiavut Government

"Northern Labrador is a haunted land inhabited by ghosts, memories and the mingled lives of Inuit, Moravian missionaries, fur traders and, for a while during WWII, U.S. servicemen who manned a remote weather station there. Prompted by a model kayak, acquired by her uncle who was stationed at Hebron, Rozanne Junker has crafted a subtle blending of historical accounts to reveal the complexity of competing personalities and interests. Versatile and quintessential, the kayak was a critical element to the success of Inuit survival. Renatus' Kayak carries a heavy burden of the social complexities that have shaped the emergence of Inuit autonomy and governance as well as vestiges of lives now vanished."

- Stephen Loring, Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution

"I would like to first congratulate you on a wonderful piece of work! Thoroughly researched and presented, your book delves into a depth of personal history that we seldom see. This is an important contribution on a number of levels: your own family history, social relationships between Inuit and non-Inuit, Labrador history, war-time history, feelings of the heart, and the story of your own research experiences. [...] You have gifted us all a great story."

- Kenneth R. Lister, Assistant Curator of Anthropology, retired, Royal Ontario Museum

"Labrador is a remote, unforgiving and fascinating corner of the world, known only to a few.  As a sailor visiting outports with the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland, and as a military historian many years later finding an unmanned German weather station erected in Martin Bay in 1943, I had many unanswered questions.  One of these questions was answered when learning from this remarkable book that another secret weather station existed – only this time manned by our Allies, the Americans, and located near the Moravian Mission settlement of Hebron.  As someone 'come from away,' Renatus' Kayak provided me a wonderful context in which to better understand Labrador's significant role in the Second World War, how one G.I. was taken under the wing of an Inuit family and how the memories of a single year can last a lifetime."

- W. A. B. (Alec) Douglas, Naval Historian, Ottawa

"Whether this is the stuff of Hollywood, of magic, serendipity, or fate, it is a story Rozanne Enerson Junker was chosen to tell."

- Jamie Brake, Archaeologist, Nunatsiavut Government

I enjoyed your book. One of the reviewers said it would be a great movie. I think that’s actually true. It is a powerful story…

- Kevin J., Portland, Oregon

“Oh my goodness! I was so engrossed in this wonderful story… the level of work, time, thought and imagination you put into it is impressive on every level!”

- Paula M., San Francisco, California

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Media Coverage


Renatus' Kayak - Media Kit (Book synopsis, Author Bio, Photos,...)