A Winnipeg-built mosque on a 4,000-kilometre journey to Inuvik nearly took a dip in a creek in the Northwest Territories.
The 1,554-square-foot mosque, being hauled by semi-trailer across two provinces and the northern tundra, encountered a narrow bridge over Reindeer Creek just three kilometres north of the Alberta-Northwest Territories border on Sunday.
The back wheels of the semi's flatbed were too wide to get across, so they had to be removed.
A second truck was used to balance the back end of the first, but as the load crawled across the bridge it started to teeter.
Hussain Guisti, who heads the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation — the Manitoba-based Islamic charity that raised the money to build and ship the structure — said it was a close call.
"It could have fallen right in," he said. "It was quite something for them to save it."
Kevin Anderson, who owns the company transporting the mosque, handled everything professionally, Guisti said.
While Anderson kept a cool head, his wife, who is along for the trip, couldn't bear to watch, said Guisti.
'It could have fallen right in," he said. "It was quite something for them to save it.'—Hussain Guisti
"[Anderson] said, 'that has never happened to me in my 25-year career,'" Guisti said. "It was so bad that his wife couldn't look. And other people there were scared, too."
A front-end loader at the construction site was also used to balance the mosque at the front end and bring it across safely.
Chains were attached to the bucket of the loader and to the steel beams on which the mosque was resting. The beam was then lifted so the mosque was level and the semi managed to go the rest of the way with the building intact.
Journey fraught with obstacles
The journey of the mosque, which is being documented by a film crew from Winnipeg, has made for a good story so far, said Guisti.
The journey, which began at the end of August, has been slowed by heavy traffic, a few other narrow bridges and some high winds.
It was also delayed in Edmonton on the September long weekend because Alberta provincial laws forbid wide loads on the roads on Sundays and statutory holidays.
The journey resumed Sept. 7 but the delay caused stress for Anderson's company, which had to get the mosque to Hay River, N.W.T., by Sept. 10 to be put on a barge and floated to Inuvik.
It was the last barge of the season.
The mosque made it in time but the barge was delayed due bad weather creating big waves on Great Slave Lake.
After two days, the barge was cleared to go, embarking on the final 1,800-kilometres to the Mackenzie Delta community just north of the Arctic Circle.
Once there, it will be the world's northernmost mosque.
It is expected to arrive Sept. 28 — if everything goes smoothly from here on.