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Arctic Bay *      [pop: under 800 ]

by   Kenn Harper                

Arctic Bay is called Ikpiarjuk - the 'pocket' because of the high hills that surround the almost landlocked bay from which the community gets it's name.

As you look southward from the community towards Adams Sound,, Uluksan Point is on your right, while Holy Cross Point is at the end of the long peninsula to your left. Arctic Bay is connected by a 21 kilometre road to Nanisivik, a mining town developed in the mid-1970s.


    Captain William Edwards was the first non-Inuk to see Arctic Bay; he entered the bay in 1872 with his whaling ship the “Arctic”. Another “Arctic”, an official Canadian government steamship under the command of explorer Joseph E. Bernier, wintered in the bay in 1910-11. A Hudson’s Bay Co. post was established here in 1926 but closed the following year. The post was established in 1926 but closed the following year. It was re-established in 1936 when  Inuit, originally from Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset, were relocated here from the unsuccessful Hudson’s Bay post at Dundas Harbour.

    The Anglican Church built a mission, south of Arctic Bay at Moffat Inlet, in 1937. It closed 10 years later after the accidental shooting and subsequent death of Canon John Turner. As with most Baffin Island communities, the present town developed as a result of government housing initiatives in the 1960’s.

Arctic Bay: Land & Wildlife

  Arctic Bay is on Border Peninsula, an uneven, undulating plateau dissected by numerous river valleys. In the northern part of the peninsula, where the community is located, mountains reach as high as 1,300 metres.

    Terrestrial wildlife around Arctic Bay is minimal. In the last few years caribou have come close to the community but sightings are more common farther south near Admiralty Inlet. Polar bears also frequent the area.

    Every summer the Inlet plays host to a variety of marine mammals. Narwhals frequent the waters and occasionally come into Arctic Bay itself. They are hunted for their ivory tusk and maktaaq. Killer whales are often present along the west coast of Admiralty Inlet. Bowhead sightings, like the whales themselves, are rare. Walrus and ring seals are often seen in the western part of the inlet. 

*Reproduced from the Nunavut Handbook