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Arctic Bay, Nunavut

Arctic Bay

Hamlet of Arctic Bay
Official logo of Arctic Bay
Arctic Bay
Arctic Bay

Coordinates: 73°02′11″N 085°09′09″W / 73.03639°N 85.15250°W / 73.03639; -85.15250Coordinates: 73°02′11″N 085°09′09″W / 73.03639°N 85.15250°W / 73.03639; -85.15250

Country Canada
Territory Nunavut
Region Qikiqtaaluk
Electoral district Quttiktuq
 • Type Hamlet
 • Mayor Andrew Taqtu
 • Senior Administrative Officer Joeli Qamanirq
 • MLAs Ron Elliott
 • Total 247.5 km2 (95.6 sq mi)
Elevation[4] 31 m (102 ft)
Population (2011)[3]
 • Total 823
 • Density 3.3/km2 (8.6/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code X0A 0A0
Area code(s) 867

Arctic Bay (2011 Population: 823) (Inuktitut syllabics: ᐃᒃᐱᐊᕐᔪᒃ, Ikpiarjuk "the pocket") is an Inuit hamlet located in the northern part of the Borden Peninsula on Baffin Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. Arctic Bay is located in the Eastern Time Zone although it is quite close to the time zone boundary. The predominant languages are Inuktitut and English. As of the 2011 census the population has increased by 19.3% from the 2006 census.[3] Arctic Bay is notable for being the birthplace of the incumbent Premier of Nunavut Eva Aariak.


The Arctic Bay area has been occupied for nearly 5000 years by Inuit nomads migrating from the west. In 1872, a European whaling ship, the Arctic, captained by Willie Adams, passed through and gave the area its English name. It has the lowest tidal range in Canada.

The Inuktitut name for Arctic Bay is Ikpiarjuk which means "the pocket" in English. This name describes the high hills that surround the almost landlocked bay. To the southeast, the flat-topped King George V Mountain dominates the landscape of the hamlet. The community is served by annual supply sealift, and by Arctic Bay Airport. There is also a road connecting it to Nanisivik, a mining community just inland that is being closed up. Residents had hoped to boost their housing and public facilities with buildings relocated from Nanisivik, but those hopes were dashed due to lead-zinc contamination. However, a church was relocated from Nanisivik to Arctic Bay in April 2007.


Arctic Bay is host to multiple recreational events and institutions.

The Army Cadets meet three times a week. This is a program under the purvey of the Ministry of National Defence. Youth aged 12 and up are welcome to join and take part in a variety of activities. The cadets regularly practice marksmanship and do a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, orienteering and the biathlon.

For adults, there are several sports teams and activities that meet regularly at the gym attached to the school. Basketball, soccer, volleyball and hockey are the most popular activities. There is a hockey rink that is open to the public during the winter months. There is also a community art class hosted every Thursday evening.

The Youth Council is actively involved in recreation. They run an assortment of events and activities for the community. Most recently, they have opened up a CAP (community access point) site at a local church hall for community internet use. Aside from almost daily internet access, this hall is also used weekly for the community Elders to gather and socialize. Various other activities and classes take place here.

The local Community Hall, also known as the Sea Hall, is host to a variety of recreational activities. It is a place of general socialization, but also has a ping pong table, a pool table and a few pieces of physical training equipment (an elliptical machine, a treadmill, some weights, and a bowflex). The Sea Hall also hosts a community dance every Friday night.

Outdoor activities remain quite common. While some residents maintain the traditional skills of their ancestors, most now hunt with guns. Tents are still hand made and used frequently during the summer months. Ice fishing is a common activity during the winter months. Seal and narwhal hunting are quite common to supplement food and clothing.

Common Canadian events also take place in Arctic Bay, such as the Terry Fox Run, which is particularly popular in Arctic Bay.

The area is popular for sport hunters coming to hunt polar bears although this may change with the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species. The current mayor is Andrew Taqtu who is well known for his preservation of traditional hunting skills as shown on a BBC film A Boy Among Polar Bears. Arctic Bay is home to the annual Midnight Sun Marathon, which is one of the northernmost contests held in the world.


Scheduled flights to and from Arctic Bay arrive at Arctic Bay Airport. This airport was certified in 2011 after completing major construction of the runway and a new terminal building. Currently, regular flights to the Arctic Bay are available through First Air from Iqaluit and Resolute.

Prior to the existence of this airport, Twin Otter aircraft would use the main street leading into the town as a landing strip or used the Nanisivik Airport.


The community is serviced by a single K–12 school, Inuujaq School, that has an enrollment around 200 students. There is also an Nunavut Arctic College host site where the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP) is being taught. In 2009 many of the NTEP graduates, who are locals, will become teachers in levels from kindergarten to grade 7. As the only outsiders in the community are government workers, the student population is almost entirely Inuit and the first language spoken is Inuktitut.

Like most high schools in Nunavut, Inuujaq uses the Alberta educational curriculum. However, one challenge faced by educators in this community is that most students read at a lower level, lower than their Alberta counterparts (as of 2007). As with most schools in Nunavut, the school is under the partial authority of the locally elected District Education Authority (DEA) who design policy as well as make decisions regarding discipline, spending, and cultural activities.

Inuujaq School was recently involved in a Toronto YMCA exchange (March 2006). After a great deal of fundraising, fifteen children and two adults from Arctic Bay made their way to Toronto for a seven-day trip. Then 15 people from Toronto travelled to Arctic Bay for nine days to experience the land and culture. While in Arctic Bay students participated in the annual fishing derby; camping out at Ikpikituarjuk over the May long weekend. Also students enjoyed the 24-hour light experience and an Arctic Bay festival on the ice. Sites visited in Ontario included the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, MuchMusic, Niagara Falls, and the Harriet Tubman Church in St. Catharines.


Arctic Bay experiences a tundra climate, with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers.

Climate data for Nanisivik Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high Humidex −3.0 −3.3 −7.1 −1.4 6.5 14.5 18.4 15.9 9.0 1.0 −6.3 −5.3 18.4
Record high °C (°F) −2.0
Average high °C (°F) −26.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −29.2
Average low °C (°F) −32.1
Record low °C (°F) −48.5
Wind chill −62.9 −72.3 −67.0 −54.8 −39.4 −24.9 −12.8 −21.0 −30.3 −50.0 −53.5 −60.6 −72.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 7.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 0.0
Snowfall cm (inches) 4.4
Avg. precipitation days 4.3 4.4 5.7 6.1 8.7 8.5 11.3 12.4 14.2 13.1 8.1 5.3 102.1
Avg. rainy days 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.2 9.2 7.8 1.7 0.05 0.0 0.0 20.95
Avg. snowy days 4.2 4.4 5.7 6.1 8.7 6.9 2.7 5.7 12.9 13.1 8.2 5.4 84
Source: 1971-2000 Environment Canada[5]


Nanisivik, the mining community mentioned above, was officially closed in 2006. Currently all that remains are two small houses, the rest of the community was demolished and stored underground.


Further reading

  • Hoppner, K., J. M. McLaughlan, B. G. Shah, J. N. Thompson, Joyce Beare-Rogers, J. Ellestad-Sayed, and O. Schaefer. Nutrient Levels of Some Foods of Eskimos from Arctic Bay, N.W.T., Canada. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol.73,No.3, September. 1978.
  • Innuksuk, Rhoda, and Susan Cowan. We Don't Live in Snow Houses Now Reflections of Arctic Bay. Ottawa: Canadian Arctic Producers, 1976. ISBN 0-920234-00-3
  • Oakes, Jill E. Factors Influencing Kamik Production in Arctic Bay, Northwest Territories. Mercury series. Ottawa, Canada: National Museum of Canada, 1987. ISBN 0-660-10763-5
  • Tester, Frank J. Hunting and Trapping Shelters for the Inuit People of Arctic Bay, Northwest Territories A Proposal. Calgary: Environmental Sciences Centre (Kananaskis), University of Calgary, 1974.
  • Vipond JC. 2003. "Experience at the Arctic Bay Nursing Station on the Coast of Baffin Island". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 169, no. 12: 1305-7.

External links

  • Arctic Bay at the Qikiqtani Inuit Association
  • Arctic Bay at the Government of Nunavut - PDF
  • Youtube
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