Taloyoak

Taloyoak


Taloyoak is located on the southwestern coast of Boothia Peninsula at the Northwest Passage. It is the northernmost community on Canada’s mainland.

The local people are Netsilik Inuit descendants of the ancient Thule culture.

The hamlet name of ‘Taloyoak’ means ‘large caribou hunting blind’ in Inuktitut. These screens were built with piled stones along the caribou migration routes. Muskoxen are also found near here and the fishing is some of the best in Nunavut.

The Netsilingmiut women of Taloyoak have distinctive clothing. Their amautiit (traditional parkas) are often brilliantly coloured, fringed and beaded, plus they are famous for their handmade ‘packing dolls,’ which are very popular.

Artistically unique Taloyoak carvings made from stone, whalebone, caribou antler and walrus ivory frequently depict mystical subjects of ancient Inuit legend.

Taloyoak
ᑕᓗᕐᔪᐊᕐᒃ
'Large caribou hunting blind'

Population

1,076

Ethnic Distribution

98% Inuit

Languages

Inuktitut, English

Location

Longitude 93° 31' W
Latitude 69° 32' N
Elevation 28 m

Topography

Taloyoak is surrounded by expanses of gently rolling dark tundra and boulder strewn coastal features. There are innumerable small lakes and rivers. Much of the terrain is rocky with an impressive formation rising from the landscape.

Weather and Climate

Current Weather in Taloyoak

Taloyoak
-9° C -11° C

Light Snow

-11° C

  • Sun

  • Mon

  • Tue

  • Wed

Taloyoak enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 17 to July 27.

The sea ice usually breaks up in June. Summer temperatures range from 5°C to 20°C. The snow begins to fall in late September or early October. Winter days have four hours of daylight and temperatures that range from -15°C to -35°C. With winter wind chill it can feel like -50°C.

Average Temperature in Taloyoak
January -34oC February -34oC
March -31oC April -21oC
May -9oC June 1oC
July 7oC August 6oC
September -1oC October -12oC
November -23oC December -27oC

History

The local people are Netsilingmiut. They are direct descendants of the ancient Thule people and they have lived in the area around Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven and Kugaaruk for over a thousand years.

  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

The Netsilik Inuit are one of the last northern indigenous peoples to have any interaction with Christian missionaries.

First contact with European people began in the early 19th century. The search for the Northwest Passage brought the Scottish explorer John Ross to the Taloyoak area in 1829 when his ship the Victory became trapped in ice nearby.

Ross and his crew were stranded here for four years. They survived and explored the Boothia Peninsula region with local Netsilingmiut assistance, locating the Magnetic North Pole in 1831. Later explorers still searching for the Northwest Passage and the lost John Franklin expedition of 1845 visited from 1848 to 1860.

Scottish and American whaling vessels frequented these waters in those years. The famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen passed through this region in his ship the Gjøa on route to his discovery and transit of the Northwest Passage in 1905-1906.

The permanent settlement of Spence Bay was established in 1948 when the Hudson Bay Company closed its trading post at Fort Ross and relocated it here.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived with the HBC trading post. Catholic and Anglican missions followed in the 1950s. The community changed its name to Taloyoak in 1992.

Hunting, fishing and trapping remain an important part of everyday life here. These traditional activities are supplemented by carving, handicrafts and salaried employment in the hamlet, which combine to provide an Inuit lifestyle that is balanced between old and new.


Activities and Wildlife

Taloyoak is known for its excellent hunting and fishing.

There are several trails from the hamlet leading to camping and fishing spots at nearby lakes such as Middle Lake, Redfish Lake and Netsilik Lake.

These pathways are perfect for strolling, hiking and ATV riding. While exploring the local area on these well travelled trails you may encounter several different kinds of local wildlife, including caribou, lemmings, marmots, hares, foxes, ravens, seagulls, terns, snow buntings, ptarmigans, gyrfalcons and snowy owls, plus large flocks of migrating ducks and geese in the spring and fall.

Muskoxen are found to the north and south of Taloyoak.

There are whales, seals, cod and whitefish in the sea and the lakes contain trout and char. Fishing derbies are held each spring and fall. Wolves, wolverines and polar bears are sometimes seen in this region. In the winter, sledding and snowmobiling are the popular ways to get around.

Arts and Culture

Taloyoak artists and artisans are prolific creators of arts and crafts that are available at the Paleojook co-op.

Local carvings are made from stone, bone, antler and ivory.

The community is famous for its popular ‘packing dolls’ — arctic animals dressed as women carrying their young in the hoods of their amautiit (traditional parkas) that are hand sewn and signed by the artist. These beautifully crafted dolls and other unique textile items are produced at Taluq Designs.

Taluq Designs Ltd. 
Contact: Mona Igutsaq
Ph: (867) 561-5280
Email: tdesigns@qiniq.com
ndcorp.nu.ca/ndc/en/subs_artsandcrafts/taluq/

Paleajook Eskimo Co-operative Ltd. 

Arts and crafts, plus general retail.
Contact: James Evan
Ph: (867) 561-5221


Parks

There are no national or territorial parks located near Taloyoak, but there are beautiful camping sites at several fishing lakes nearby.


Visitor Information

Offices of the Hamlet of Taloyoak
Contact: Economic Development Officer
Ph: (867) 561-2307
Fax: (867) 561-5057
Email: economicdevelopment@taloyoak.ca 


Kugluktuk

Kugluktuk


Kugluktuk is the westernmost community in Nunavut. It is located north of the Arctic Circle on the Canadian mainland at the mouth of the Coppermine River where it feeds into Coronation Gulf, which is part of the Northwest Passage.

Situated near the border with the Northwest Territories, the scenic valley of the Coppermine River was an ancient source of copper for the Inuit people.

It has a unique microclimate that extends a narrow band of stunted boreal forest trees northwards toward the Arctic Ocean. ‘Kugluktuk’ means ‘place of moving water’ and the root word ‘kugluk’ means ‘waterfall.’ Upriver from this hospitable hamlet is the beautiful Kugluk cascade, also known as Bloody Falls, an ancient fishing and hunting location that is now a territorial park of historic cultural importance.

Kugluktuk
ᖁᕐᓗᖅᑐᖅ
'Place of moving water'

Population

1,400

Ethnic Distribution

90% Inuit

Languages

Inuinnaqtun, English

Location

Longitude 115° 07’ W
Latitude 67° 49’ N
Elevation 23m

Topography

Kugluktuk is situated beneath rocky hills at the mouth of its large, swift flowing river that feeds into the Arctic Ocean at the southwestern corner of Coronation Gulf.

Weather and Climate

Current Weather in Kugluktuk

Kugluktuk
-12° C -14° C

Clear Sky

-14° C

  • Sun

  • Mon

  • Tue

  • Wed

Kugluktuk enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 27 to July 17.

The average temperature in Kugluktuk is the warmest in Nunavut, sometimes rising to 30°C in the summer. Winter temperatures range from -15°C to -40°C.

Average Temperature in Kugluktuk
January -28oC February -27oC
March -25oC April -17oC
May -5oC June 5oC
July 11oC August 9oC
September 3oC October -7oC
November -20oC December -26oC

History

The Inuit of Kugluktuk speak Inuinnaqtun — a slightly different language from Inuktitut — because they are Copper Inuit people, descendants of the ancient Thule with distinct cultural traditions.

  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

The Copper Inuit were so named because they made arrowheads, spearheads, ulu blades, chisels, harpoons and knives from copper that was sourced along the shores of the Coppermine River. This valuable survival resource, plus the nice local climate with its great hunting and fishing were the same historical reasons why the Dene First Nations people lived here.

The Dene people were the original inhabitants and violent ethnic feuds with the Thule and Inuit people continued for centuries. A sacred healing ceremony to reconcile these ancient native grievances took place in 1996.

The Hudson Bay Company sent an expedition led by Samuel Hearne to search for copper in this area. Hearne followed the storied river to its mouth and named it the Coppermine in 1771. The local Inuit community went by this same name until it was changed in 1996.

In 1865 an influenza epidemic spread along the Coronation Gulf coast, wiping out 30% of the population. From 1913 to 1916, Diamond Jenness, the famous Canadian ethnologist, studied and recorded the traditional lifestyle of Inuit in the Coppermine area.

The Hudson Bay Company established a trading post here in 1927. In 1932 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police built a police station. Radio facilities, weather station, nursing station and a day school soon followed. Oil and gas exploration companies in the 1970s trained and employed a large portion of the local population. In 1996 a permanent peace was made with the Dene people and the community changed its name to Kugluktuk.


Activities and Wildlife

In the summertime when it is very green here with wildflowers, berry plants and green grasses, canoeists, kayakers, boaters and river rafters love to explore the Coppermine River from Kugluktuk to Bloody Falls and back.

Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and snowmobile riding are popular outdoor activities. You can also go golfing! The Kugluktuk Golf Club has an 18-hole course located along the picturesque shores of Coronation Gulf.

Herds of caribou migrate nearby and the sea contains abundant ringed seals to hunt. Char and whitefish are plentiful here. Ravens are playful year-round residents. Peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks and bald eagles frequent the upstream sections of the Coppermine River where you can also find moose, muskoxen, wolverines, foxes and barren land grizzly bears.

Every summer the landscape is dappled with arctic flowers, mosses, lichens, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, stunted spruce and dwarf birch trees.

In April there is a weeklong festival called ‘Nattiq Frolics’ with traditional Inuit games, dancing, feasting, seal hunting contests and snowmobile races.

Arts and Culture

Kugluktuk is home to many artists; the most notable is Inuk painter John Allukpik.

Local carvings are made from a variety of materials, such as white dolomite stone, musk ox horn, walrus tusk ivory, caribou antler and ancient whalebone.

The co-op store sells local arts and crafts. The Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre showcases other fine artworks from this area, including igloo carvings and handmade Inuit dolls.

Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre and Museum 
Ph: (867) 982-3570
Fax: (867) 982-3573

Kugluktuk Co-operative Ltd. 
Contact: Derrick Power
Ph: (867) 982-4231


Parks

Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park
This lovely park is located 15 kilometres (9 miles) southwest of Kugluktuk. It features 25 acres of beautiful terrain near the scenic waterfalls of the Coppermine River where it narrows into a cascade of churning rapids and twisting eddies.

This special place has a shared history between Inuit and Dene First Nations people that has not always been friendly.

Ethnic feuds persisted for centuries. The waterfalls get their English name from a bloody incident witnessed by the British explorer Samuel Hearne in 1771 when a group of Inuit fishermen camped at the falls was ambushed and massacred by Dene warriors. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1978.

Inuit and Dene representatives participated in a sacred healing ceremony in 1996 to reconcile their ancient tribal grievances. The Inuinnaqtun name ‘Kugluk’ means ‘waterfall’ and the campsite area below the falls is called ‘Onoagahiovik’ which means ‘the place where you stay all night’ because the fishing is that good.

 

Coppermine River
The Coppermine River was nominated as a Canadian Heritage River in 2002 for its outstanding heritage and recreational values. It is currently awaiting official designation by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System Board.

The Coppermine River played an important role in northern exploration and the fur trade. Copper deposits on its shores attracted native peoples to the river. Archaeological sites with ancient copper artifacts are scattered along the course of this waterway. It was because of stories told about copper found here that Samuel Hearne explored this river in 1771.

Other explorers soon followed and the Coppermine became an important northwestern Canadian trading route. The river valley has boreal spruce and birch trees living far north of the tree line. It is home to moose, caribou, muskoxen, falcons, hawks and eagles.


Visitor Information

Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre and Museum
This excellent facility features many local artworks and handicrafts, plus it provides detailed maps, trail routes, outfitter listings, hunting and fishing regulations, and historical and cultural information about Kugluktuk.
Ph: (867) 982-3570
Fax: (867) 982-3573

Offices of the Hamlet of Kugluktuk
Ph: (867) 982-6500
kugluktuk.ca/


Kugaaruk

Kugaaruk


Kugaaruk is located on the southeastern shore of Pelly Bay off the Gulf of Boothia on the western side of the Simpson Peninsula.

‘Kugaaruk’ means ‘little stream’ in Inuktitut, the traditional name of the small brook that flows through the village.

This place is also sometimes called ‘Arviligjuaq’ in Inuktitut, which means ‘place of many bowhead whales’ because it is situated near bowhead habitat.

Formerly known as Pelly Bay, the community changed its name to Kugaaruk in 1999. Home to some famous Inuit artists, it’s a great destination for sea kayaking and whale watching adventures.

Kugaaruk
ᑰᒑᕐᔪᒃ
'Little stream'

Arviligjuaq
ᑳᒑᕐᑭᓪ
'Place of many bowhead whales'

Population

770

Ethnic Distribution

97% Inuit

Languages

Inuktitut, English

Location

Longitude 89° 49’ W
Latitude 68° 31’ N
Elevation 17m

Topography

Kugaaruk is nestled within coastal mountains that rise between Pelly Bay and vast expanses of rugged, boulder-strewn tundra. There are several small islands in the bay and countless small lakes, rivers and streams nearby.

Weather and Climate

Current Weather in Kugaaruk

Kugaaruk
-9° C -9° C

Overcast Clouds

-9° C

  • Sun

  • Mon

  • Tue

  • Wed

Kugaaruk enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 21 to July 22.

Summer temperatures usually range from 5°C to 15°C. Winter temperatures range from -15° C to -35°C. With wind chill it can feel like -50°C. Kugaaruk has the coldest recorded wind chill in Canada of -78°C on January 13, 1975. Blizzards can occur at any time during the winter months.

Average Temperature in Kugaaruk
January -26oC February -34oC
March -28oC April -24oC
May -9oC June 4oC
July 10oC August 12oC
September 1oC October -7oC
November -16oC December -26oC

History

The native people are Arviligjuaqmiut (‘people of the place of many bowhead whales’). They are Netsilik Inuit descendants of the ancient Thule people and they have lived in the region around Kugaaruk for over a thousand years.

  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

Most local Netsilingmiut continued to live a nomadic lifestyle until the 20th century.

Small family groups moved seasonally between winter and summer hunting camps, living in igloos and caribou skin tents, following the caribou migrations.

They are one of the last indigenous northern peoples to have any contact with Europeans.

The first Christian missionary to reach this area, Father Pierre Henri, arrived here in 1935. The Catholic mission was established in 1937. With Father Franz Van de Velde, Father Henri built a small chapel out of stones in 1941. They soon learned that stone wasn’t a very good insulator in this harsh climate, so they adopted Inuit ways, living in igloos and wearing traditional Inuit clothing during the cold months. Inuit people would meet here for Christmas celebrations then separate again to pursue their nomadic lives. Kugaaruk is now restoring the old stone church as an important historic site.

In 1955, during the Cold War, a Distant Early Warning (DEW) site was constructed at Pelly Bay that greatly increased contact with outsiders. The Government of Canada installed 32 prefabricated houses here in 1968 and salaried employment in the settlement began to replace the nomadic lifestyle of the local Inuit people.

While the transition to modern values has been rapid, hunting and fishing are still vitally important subsistence activities for most of the families living here. Cable television and Internet access began in 1998. The hamlet changed its name from Pelly Bay to Kugaaruk on December 3, 1999. The few remaining Elders of this community lived most of their lives out on the land in the traditional Inuit way, but nowadays with constant exposure to global culture, most local Inuit kids have learned to speak English first and Inuktitut second.


Activities and Wildlife

Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, sea kayaking, dog sledding, snowmobiling and ATV riding are popular things to do here.

The sea is full of marine mammals, including bow head whales, narwhals, walruses, seals and polar bears.

Several nearby lakes and rivers teem with char. The rocky coastal hills and tundra valleys contain hares, foxes, ptarmigans, falcons and herds of caribou.

Venturing out onto the land will take you to some historic campsites for hunting and fishing with breathtaking views of the landscape. April and May are the best months to enjoy the snow and the sea ice in bright sunny conditions. July through September is the best time of year for boating and exploring the area by ATV.

Arts and Culture

Kugaaruk is home to some famous Inuit artists like Emily Illuitok, who worked mostly in walrus ivory, and Nick Sikkuark, who worked in whalebone and caribou antler. The distinctive carvings of Kugaaruk artists are often characterized by droll, macabre wit. Local arts and crafts can be found at the Koomiut Co-op store.

Koomiut Co-op 
Arts and crafts, plus general retail supplies.
Ph: (867) 769-6231


Parks

There are no national or territorial parks located near Kugaaruk. The best local camping sites for wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing have been used for many centuries by the Arviligjuarmiut


Visitor Information

Offices of the Hamlet of Kugaaruk
Ph: (867) 769-6281
Fax: (867) 769-6069


Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven


The storied community of Gjoa Haven is located on the southeast coast of King William Island at the heart of the Northwest Passage.

It is also called ‘Uqsuqtuuq’ which means ‘place of plenty blubber’ in Inuktitut.

The English name for this place honours the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who wintered here with his ship the Gjøa. He called this place ‘the finest little harbour in the world.’ In 1906 he was the first European explorer to transit the Northwest Passage.

The John Ross expedition of 1829-1833 had previously visited this region and the ill-fated John Franklin expedition of 1845 perished nearby, so Gjoa Haven is often visited by arctic history buffs.

The local Inuit people are famous for their historic acts of kindness.

Gjoa Haven
ᐅᖅᓱᖅᑑᖅ
'Place of plenty blubber'

Population

1,446

Ethnic Distribution

95% Inuit

Languages

Inuktitut, English

Location

Longitude 95° 51’ W
Latitude 68° 38’ N
Elevation 47m

Topography

Gjoa Haven is situated on the flat coastal terrain of King William Island, consisting of sand, gravel, boulders, sandstone and limestone bedrock. The tundra becomes dappled with wildflowers in the summertime.

Weather and Climate

Current Weather in Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven
-8° C -14° C

Broken Clouds

-14° C

  • Sun

  • Mon

  • Tue

  • Wed

Gjoa Haven enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 22 to July 21.

Summer temperatures are nice and moderate, often rising to 15°C. Winter temperatures are very cold, ranging from -20°C to -40°C before wind chill. The sea ice freezes solid in November and breaks up in July-August.

Average Temperature in Gjoa Haven
January -34oC February -34oC
March -28oC April -20oC
May -9oC June 1oC
July 8oC August 5oC
September 0oC October -10oC
November -22oC December -30oC

History

The native people of Gjoa Haven are Netsilingmiut (‘people of the place where there is seal’). The Netsilik Inuit are direct descendants of the ancient Thule people and they have lived in the area around Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Kugaaruk for over a thousand years.

  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

Netsilik Inuit contact with Europeans began in 1829-1833 when the Scottish explorer John Ross and his crew were trapped in ice near the Boothia Peninsula. They survived with Netsilingmiut assistance. The 1845 John Franklin expedition fared much worse. Franklin and his entire crew died without ever finding the Northwest Passage.

On August 28, 1903 the great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen founded the settlement of ‘Gjøahavn.’ He named it this because its harbour protected his ship the Gjøa for two winters when he lived among the Netsilingmiut. His historic discovery and safe 1906 transit of the Northwest Passage in the Gjøa is due in large part to the generous help he got from the local Netsilik Inuit people who clothed him properly and taught him arctic survival techniques of hunting, fishing and tool making.

In 1927, the Hudson Bay Company opened a port and a fur trading post in Gjoa Haven.

The Netsilik Inuit people of King William Island continued to live a traditional nomadic lifestyle well into the 20th century.

The 1961 population of Gjoa Haven was only 110 people, but it has grown steadily with salaried employment opportunities and improved housing, health care and educational facilities. Most Inuit residents still spend a month or two on the land each summer.


Activities and Wildlife

Gjoa Haven is an ever-popular destination for fans of arctic history, with excellent cultural venues to visit including the Heritage Centre, the Hamlet Centre and the Northwest Passage Territorial Trail.

In the warm months when the tundra is covered with pretty flowers and the sea is open, boating, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, berry picking, bird watching and ATV riding are the most popular outdoor activities.

Numerous arctic birds nest nearby, including loons, geese, ducks, terns, jaegers, plovers, snow buntings and snowy owls.

A handsome herd of muskoxen lives on the island and there are some caribou too. There are dozens of lakes that are great spots for char fishing. The sunny days of April and May offer the best conditions for snowmobiling and dog sledding, for exploring the island on skis or for heading out onto the sea ice. In May there is a two-week long celebration in Gjoa Haven called the ‘Qavvavik Frolics’ featuring drum dancing, throat-singing, traditional Inuit games and feasts.

From August to October you can boat to the mainland to visit the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary. At any time of the year, you are always warmly welcomed to ‘the finest little harbour in the world.’

Arts and Culture

Gjoa Haven is known for its vibrant arts and crafts scene, where carvers are famous for their renderings of shamanistic faces and talented seamstresses produce beautiful articles of Inuit clothing.

Natsilik Fine Arts 
Contact: Joseph Suqslak or Joseph Aglukkaq
Ph: (867) 360-7824

Qarggivik Society 
Contact: Salomie Arqviq
Ph: (867) 360-6199

Quqmak Sewing Group 
Contact: Marlene
Ph: (867) 360-7620

Qikitaq Co-operative Ltd. 
General retail plus arts and crafts.
Ph: (867) 360-7271


Parks

Northwest Passage Territorial Trail
The Northwest Passage Territorial Trail is an informative walking tour that describes the quest of dozens of European explorers to find the Northwest Passage and to locate any trace of the lost Franklin expedition. This pleasant stroll back into time follows a path that winds its way in and around the hamlet. The journey begins at the cultural display describing the Netsilik Inuit people located in the Heritage Centre, it leads to more displays about famous arctic explorers at the Hamlet Centre, and it concludes on the hill above the beach at the cairn dedicated to Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who formed a special relationship with the Netsilik Inuit people of Gjoa Haven.

Queen Maud Migratory Bird Sanctuary
This migratory bird sanctuary is located on the mainland across the Queen Maud Gulf from Gjoa Haven. It is Canada’s largest federally protected nature preserve and it is home to one of the greatest concentrations of nesting geese on Earth. The landscape has countless shallow lakes and huge expanses of arctic lowland.


Visitor Information

Offices of the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven
Ph: (867) 360-7141
Fax: (867) 360-6309
Email: edogjoa@qiniq.com
gjoahaven.net


Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay


The community of Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island at the western end of Queen Maud Gulf where it narrows into Dease Strait.

In Inuinnaqtun it is called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq’ because it is a ‘good fishing place.’

Cambridge Bay is the centre of government for Kitikmeot, the administrative and transportation hub for this region of Nunavut. It is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. The hamlet is located close to the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. The Ekalluktogmiut people come from there.

The short section of the river that flows from Ferguson Lake to Wellington Bay is called ‘Iqaluktuuq’ in Inuinnaqtun, meaning ‘place of big fish.’

Its people are the Iqaluktuurmiut. This ancestral region of Nunavut has been inhabited for 4,000 years. It is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen and caribou.

Cambridge Bay
ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑦᑎᐊᖅ
'Good fishing place'

Population

1,477

Ethnic Distribution

83% Inuit

Languages

Inuinnaqtun, English

Location

Longitude 105° 07’ W
Latitude 69° 06’ N
Elevation 31m

Topography

The hamlet of Cambridge Bay is situated on an extensive rolling plateau that gently rises from steep coastal cliffs. The terrain is dotted with innumerable lakes and ponds.

Weather and Climate

Current Weather in Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay
-8° C -14° C

Broken Clouds

-14° C

  • Sun

  • Mon

  • Tue

  • Wed

Cambridge Bay enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 20 to July 23. The sparse rainfall usually occurs in July and August when temperatures range from 5°C to 25°C. Snowfall is greatest in October and November. December has no daylight, only starlight, moonlight and the Northern Lights. Winter temperatures average between -25°C and -35°C, but can sometimes feel like -60°C with the wind chill.

Average Temperature in Cambridge Bay
January -33oC February -33oC
March -30oC April -21oC
May -9oC June 2oC
July 8oC August 6oC
September 0oC October -12oC
November -23oC December -30oC

History

Archaeological sites found all over this enormous island prove that indigenous peoples have been living in this part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago continuously for the last four thousand years.

  • 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 Inuit people of Cambridge Bay, from the eastern and southern parts of Victoria Island, speak Inuinnaqtun — a different language from Inuktitut — because they are Copper Inuit people, descendants of the ancient Thule with their own distinct and unique traditions.

There are 21 subgroups of Copper Inuit and seven come from here.

  • Ekalluktogmiut — from the Ekalluk River
  • Haneragmiut — from Dolphin and Union Strait
  • Iqaluktuurmiut — from Iqaluktuuq on the Ekalluk River
  • Kangiryuarmiut — from central Victoria Island
  • Kilusiktogmiut — from northeast of Lady Franklin Point
  • Nagyuktogmiut — from Lady Franklin Point
  • Puiplirmiut — from Simpson Bay

The Copper Inuit were so named because they made arrowheads, spearheads, ulu blades, chisels, harpoons and knives from copper that was traded amongst Inuit in exchange for soapstone pots and other valuables. They were hunter-gatherer nomads who came to the Cambridge Bay area because of its abundant wildlife resources.

The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen visited the Cambridge Bay area in his ship the Gjøa in 1905 when he discovered the Northwest Passage.

He arrived in Alaska in 1906. In 1918 he traversed the same route back from west to east in his new ship called the Maud. The Hudson Bay Company purchased this vessel as a fur trading supply ship, arriving in Cambridge Bay in 1921. The Maud was used for years before it sank into the harbour. Its exposed hull has been a Cambridge Bay landmark for 80 years. Norway is retrieving it now.

In 1947 a long-range navigational LORAN tower was constructed in Cambridge Bay. The construction project involved hiring many Inuit workers who later remained in the area. In 1954 a Catholic church was built using seal oil and sand as mortar. A Distant Early Warning military base was constructed here that same year. The DEW site revised its mission in 1989. It remains operative today as part of the joint United States and Canadian North Warning System.


Activities and Wildlife

Outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobile riding are all very popular things to do in Cambridge Bay.

Fly-fishing for great big arctic char in nearby Ekalluk River and camping in historic Ovayok Territorial Park are rewarding summertime activities for the whole family.

Visiting the ancient archaeological sites of the Pre-Dorset, Dorset and Thule people, seeing how they lived and the panoramas they chose as home is truly awe-inspiring.

Wildlife abounds in this area. You will see caribou, muskoxen and seals. In July and August when the tundra is brilliant with wildflowers you can watch many birds, including jaegers, ducks, geese and swans. The community hosts the ‘Omingmak Frolics’ each May, which include seal hunting and ice carving competitions, fishing contests, talent shows, children’s games, dog sledding and snowmobiling races.

When staying here for an extended ecotourism adventure, or even just a brief visit from an arctic cruise ship traversing the Northwest Passage, be sure to tour the town, enjoy its hospitality and meet its fine artists.

Arts and Culture

Well-known local artists like Inuk Charlie have sold major pieces internationally. Beautiful Inuit artworks in marble, soapstone, serpentine, ivory, antler, bronze, brass, sterling silver and turquoise gemstone can be found at a variety of locations in Cambridge Bay.

Arctic Closet
Contact: Jorgan Aitaok
Ph: (867) 983-2555

Iqaluktuuttiaq Arts
Contact: Elisabeth Hadlari
Ph: (867) 983-2439

Kioleut Handy Crafts
Contact: Ruth N. Wilcox
Ph: (867) 983-2315

Ikaluktutiak Co-operative
Contact: Angela Butt
Ph: (867) 983-2201
Email: manager.ikaluktutiak@arcticco-op.com
www.arcticco-op.com/acl-kitikmeot-cambridge-bay.htm


Parks

Ovayok Territorial Park
This park is located 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Cambridge Bay. The central feature of this special place is the distinctive mountain called Ovayok (Mount Pelly) that stands out from the landscape, rising 200 metres (656 feet) in height. For generations, Ovayok has been an important landmark and source of legend for the Inuit people and their Thule ancestors. There are five trails, totalling 20 kilometres (12 miles) of pristine arctic wilderness to explore, with designated camping areas and informative signage at important historical sites. The parkland is home to magnificent herds of muskoxen and its lakes teem with fish and waterfowl.

More information: Ovayok Territorial Park

Queen Maud Migratory Bird Sanctuary
This migratory bird sanctuary is Canada’s largest federally protected nature preserve. It is home to one of the greatest concentrations of nesting geese on Earth. The landscape has countless shallow lakes and huge expanses of arctic lowland.

More information: Queen Maud Migratory Bird Sanctuary


Visitor Information

Arctic Coast Visitor Centre
Ph: (867) 983-2224
Fax: (867) 983-2302
www.destinationnunavut.ca

Offices of the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay
Ph: (867) 983-4650
Fax: (867) 983-2193
www.cambridgebay.ca