Rankin Inlet

Also known as ‘Kangiqtiniq’ in Inuktitut, which means ‘deep inlet,’ the busy, modern community of Rankin Inlet is the centre of government for Kivalliq.

With its large volume of commercial traffic streaming through its airport, combined with a history of regional government, mining and scientific exploration activity, Rankin Inlet has developed a highly skilled workforce.

It is located on the large, deep inlet for which it is named, on the mainland of Canada at the northwestern corner of Hudson Bay. Rankin Inlet is well known for its artworks, especially Inuit ceramic arts, but it is also famous because the first Inuk athlete to ever play professional hockey in the NHL grew up here — Jordin Tootoo — right winger, player number 22 (‘too too’) with the Nashville Predators, a great role model for Inuit kids.

Rankin Inlet
‘Deep inlet’

It is the largest, most entrepreneurial hamlet of this territorial region, the business and transportation hub, which serves as the central Canadian gateway into Nunavut.


80% Inuit

Inuktitut, English

Longitude 92° 00’ W
Latitude 62° 52’ N
Elevation 28m

Rankin Inlet is nestled in rolling hills with flat areas and intricate rock formations. It has tundra valleys filled with tiny wildflowers in the summertime and wind-sculpted snowdrifts in the winter.

Weather & Climate

The breakup of sea ice occurs in mid-July, with patches of rain or fog during the spring and fall months. Winter temperatures, with wind-chill, can fall to -50°C. High winds, blizzards and ice fogs are frequent. The sea ice freezes over in October.

Average Temperature in Rankin Inlet
January -32oC February -30oC
March -25oC April -16oC
May -6oC June 4oC
July 10oC August 10oC
September 3oC October -5oC
November -18oC December -27oC

Sunny summer temperatures can reach 20°C.


Ancestors of the Inuit people inhabited this area for many centuries. At nearby Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park there are some Pre-Dorset archaeological sites dating from 1000 BC to 500 BC, plus several Thule sites dated to 1200 AD.

  • Pre-Dorset Culture (‘Saqqaq’): 2500 BC to 500 BC
  • Dorset Culture (‘Tuniit’ or ‘Sivullirmiut’): 500 BC to 1500 AD
  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

The ancient Thule people were bowhead whale hunters. Caribou Inuit people, who hunted barren-ground caribou inland and fished for arctic char along the coast, in the Diane and Meliadine Rivers, eventually succeeded them.

Regular contact with Europeans began in the late 17th century when the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) started fur trading in the Rankin Inlet area. The ill-fated HBC expedition led by British Captain James Knight in 1719 shipwrecked in a cove on nearby Marble Island. Some of the survivors lived until 1721.

Contact with European and American whalers was constant throughout the 19th century.

Outsider contact then continued with fur traders and trappers of prized, pure white arctic fox pelts into the early 20th century, followed by the arrival of Christian missionaries who introduced the written language system of Inuktitut syllabics to the local Inuit.

The settlement of Rankin Inlet was founded in 1957 by the owners of the Rankin Inlet Mine.

Deep underground reserves of nickel and copper ore were mined until 1962.

Three quarters of the 500 Inuit residents of Rankin Inlet were miners. After the mine closed down that year, some unsuccessful attempts to develop alternate sources of income for the community ensued, including a pig ranch in 1969 and a chicken farm in the 1970s. These animals were fed a locally made fishmeal that, unfortunately, gave the meat an unpleasant flavour. Plus, it was far too common an occurrence for the animals to freeze to death in winter or be eaten by polar bears, so both of these animal farm ventures were abandoned.

Fortunately, however, traditional hunting skills kept Inuit families fed and clothed.

Located close to Rankin Inlet is the Meliadine River, which the ancient Pre-Dorset, Thule and modern Inuit people have all used as a great place for fishing arctic char, grayling and trout. There are herds of caribou nearby, ringed seals are abundant, plus it is one of the best-known whaling sites in the north.

Nowadays, Rankin Inlet stands poised to become a bustling mining centre once again. Recent geophysical mineral explorations nearby have discovered huge deposits of gold and diamonds! Large-scale industrial mining operations for the extraction and processing of these precious local resources are expected to begin full operation within the next few years.

Contact with European and American whalers was constant throughout the 19th century.

Deep underground reserves of nickel and copper ore were mined until 1962.

Fortunately, however, traditional hunting skills kept Inuit families fed and clothed.


Visitors can experience a wide variety of fun outdoor activities that are very popular locally, including dog sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, kite skiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, hunting, fishing and berry picking.

In addition, there are some beautiful ancient archaeological sites to visit nearby at the Meliadine River in Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park, which has a well-marked walking trail.

On land you will find arctic foxes, marmots (‘siksik’) and caribou, plus many species of birds and, sometimes, a wandering polar bear. The wildlife office in Rankin Inlet will provide you with detailed information about local flora and fauna, plus hunting and fishing regulations.

The local people are the best guides for exploring this place on land, ice or open water. You are also cordially invited to participate in the local celebrations: In the spring, Rankin Inlet celebrates ‘Pakallak Tyme’ with traditional games, competitions, snowmobile races, dancing and community feasts to enjoy!

Local marine wildlife species to view include seals, walruses and beluga whales.


Rankin Inlet is home to talented artists and craftspeople and it is famous as the only Inuit fine-arts ceramics producer in the world.

Local artists work in a variety of media including ceramics, prints, bronze castings, carvings, watercolours and drawings.

The primary place in town for you to discover and perhaps choose to acquire some of these masterpieces is the Matchbox Gallery. Arts and crafts are sold at many stores here. The Kivalliq Regional Visitor Centre is another great venue exhibiting some prized Inuit artworks, plus it provides visitors with tour guides, maps and cultural information.


Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park
‘Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga’ means ‘the land around the river of little fishes’ in Inuktitut. This beautiful park, which protects the chain of lakes, ancient tundra valley, mossy lichen-covered esker and rocky cliffs of the Medialine River, is located 10 kilometres (six miles) northwest of Rankin Inlet.

It was created to preserve dozens of important archaeological sites and to conserve the breeding habitat of numerous wildlife species, such as loons, long-tailed ducks, sandhill cranes, voles, lemmings, arctic fox, arctic hare, caribou, plus rarely seen barren land grizzly and polar bears.

The river’s cliff area is called ‘Ijiraliq’ in Inuktitut, from Inuit legend, referring to the name of someone who turns into a whistling spirit, like a caribou. The extensive archaeological area in the park — called ‘Qamaviniqtalik’ in Inuktitut (‘place with ancient sod houses’) — includes sod house remains, tent rings, kayak stands, hunting blinds, wind breaks, fishing weirs, food cache sites and graves of the Thule people from 1200 AD, plus some Pre-Dorset ruins and artifacts dating from 1000 BC. The park’s informative booklet with walking tour map guides you through this sacred ancient place.

Marble Island
Marble Island is composed of a unique sedimentary rock called wacke that is laced with quartzite, giving the island its white, marble-like appearance.

Huge numbers of sea mammals can be found thriving near its shores, including seals, walrus, beluga, orca and bowhead whales. Due to the great abundance of marine life species, Marble Island is a traditional summer hunting ground for the Inuit people. It is also becoming a major ecotourism attraction because of its animal population and human history.

Many old-time mariners hunting bowhead whales visited this island and the 1719 expedition of James Knight shipwrecked near its shore. Vestiges of his sunken vessel remain and survivor names were etched upon the rock. There are caves, graves and ruins to visit on this wacke island of wonderful arctic wildlife.

Home of the local ancestors, it remains a hiking, camping, fishing paradise.

The whole island is bare rock, dappled in lichens and mosses, hosting a variety of arctic birds, including ducks and raptors, plus lemmings, arctic hares, arctic foxes and, occasionally, polar bears.


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