Iqaluit, Nunavut: Wikis


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Iqaluit (CanadaGeo)
—  City  —
Aerial view of Iqaluit

Coordinates: 63°44′55″N 068°31′11″W / 63.74861°N 68.51972°W / 63.74861; -68.51972Coordinates: 63°44′55″N 068°31′11″W / 63.74861°N 68.51972°W / 63.74861; -68.51972
Country  Canada
Territory  Nunavut
Region Qikiqtaaluk Region
Electoral districts Iqaluit Centre
Iqaluit East
Iqaluit West
Settled 1942
Village status 1974
Town status 1980
City status 19 April 2001
Founder Nakasuk
Government [1][2]
 - Type Iqaluit Municipal Council
 - Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik
 - MLAs Hunter Tootoo
Eva Aariak
Paul Okalik
Area [3]
 - Total 52.34 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
Population (2006)[3]
 - Total 6,184
 Density 118.2/km2 (306/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Canadian Postal code X0A 0H0, X0A 1H0
Area code(s) 867
Telephone Exchanges 222, 975, 979
NTS Map 025N10

Iqaluit (pronounced [iqɑluit], ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ in Inuktitut syllabics; often pronounced /ɨˈkæljuːɨt/ in English) is the territorial capital and the largest community of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. Iqaluit is located on the south coast of Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay. As of the 2006 census the population was 6,184, an increase of 18.1 percent from the 2001 census; it has the lowest population of any capital city in Canada.[3] Inhabitants of Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq). Prior to 1987 the community was named Frobisher Bay.



The Royal Canadian Mounted Police on parade in Iqaluit, Canada Day 1999.

Founded in 1942 as an American airbase, Iqaluit's first permanent inhabitant was Nakasuk, an Inuk guide who helped American planners to choose the site. One of Iqaluit's elementary schools is named after Nakasuk. Long regarded as a campsite and fishing spot by the Inuit, the place chosen had traditionally been named Iqaluit – "many fish" in Inuktitut – but Canadian and American authorities named it Frobisher Bay, after the name of the body of water it abuts.

The Hudson's Bay Company moved its south Baffin operations to the neighbouring valley of Niaqunngut, officially called Apex, in 1949 to take advantage of the airfield. The population of Frobisher Bay increased rapidly during the construction of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW line, a system of radar stations, see North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)) in the mid-1950s. Hundreds of construction workers, military personnel, and administrative staff moved into the community, and several hundred Inuit followed to take advantage of the access to medical care and jobs the base provided. In 1957, 489 of the town's 1,200 residents were reported to be Inuit. After 1959, the Canadian government established permanent services at Frobisher Bay, including full-time doctors, a school and social services. The Inuit population grew rapidly in response, as the government encouraged Inuit to settle permanently in communities with government services.

The American military left Iqaluit in 1963, as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) diminished the strategic value of the DEW line and Arctic airbases, but Frobisher Bay remained the government's administrative and logistical centre for much of the eastern Arctic. In 1964, the first elections were held for a community council, and in 1979 for the first mayor. The founding of the Gordon Robertson Educational Centre, now Inuksuk High School, in the early-1970s at Iqaluit confirmed the government's commitment to the community as an administrative centre. At the time of its founding, it was the sole high school operating in more than a seventh of Canadian territory.

On 1 January 1987, the name of this municipality was officially changed from "Frobisher Bay" to "Iqaluit" - aligning official usage with the name that the Inuit population had always used. In December 1995, Iqaluit was selected to serve as Nunavut's future capital in a territory-wide referendum, in which it was chosen over Rankin Inlet. On 19 April 2001 it was officially redesignated as a city.

Iqaluit was designated by Canada as the host city for the 2010 meeting of the G7 finance ministers, held on February 5 and 6.[4] The meeting strained the northern communications technology infrastructure.[5]


Legislative Assembly of Nunavut building in Iqaluit
  • 1576 - Englishman Martin Frobisher sails into Frobisher Bay believing he has found the route to China
  • 1861 - Charles Francis Hall, an American, camps at the Sylvia Grinnell River and explores the waters of Koojesse Inlet, which he names after his Inuit guide
  • 1942 - U.S. Army Air Corps selects Iqaluit’s current location as the site of a major air base
  • 1949 - The HBC moves its trading post from Ward Inlet to Apex
  • 1955 - Frobisher Bay becomes the centre for U.S. Canada Dew Line construction operations
  • 1958 - Telephone exchange service established by Bell Canada
  • 1963 - US military move out of Iqaluit
  • 1964 - First community council formed; population of Frobisher Bay is 900
  • 1970 - Frobisher Bay officially recognized as a Settlement
  • 1974 - Settlement of Frobisher Bay gains village status
  • 1976 - Inuit present the Nunavut proposal to the Federal government
  • 1979 - First mayor elected
  • 1980 - Frobisher Bay designated as a town
  • 1982 - Government of Canada agrees in principle to the creation of Nunavut
  • 1987 - Frobisher Bay officially becomes Iqaluit, reverting to its original Inuktitut name meaning "place of many fish"
  • 1993 - The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is signed in Iqaluit
  • 1995 - Nunavut residents select Iqaluit as capital of the new territory[6]
  • 1 April 1999 - The Territory of Nunavut officially comes into being
  • 19 April 2001 - Iqaluit receives its order of official status as a city
  • 2002 - Iqaluit, along with Nuuk, Greenland, co-host the first jointly hosted Arctic Winter Games at the Arctic Winter Games Arena.
  • 5 February 2010 - Iqaluit hosted the finance meeting as part of the 2010 G7 summit.[7]


Iqaluit is located in the Everett Mountains rising from Koojesse Inlet, an inlet of Frobisher Bay, on the southeast part of Baffin Island. It is well to the east of Nunavut's mainland, and northeast of Hudson Bay.



Apex is a small community about 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast (63°43′47″N 068°26′48″W / 63.72972°N 68.44667°W / 63.72972; -68.44667 (Apex)) from Iqaluit's centre and is known in Inuktitut as Niaqunngut. It is located on a small peninsula separating Koojesse Inlet from Tarr Inlet. Historically Apex was the place where most Inuit lived when Iqaluit was a military site and off-limits to anyone not working at the base. Located here are the women's shelter, a church, a primary school, and a bed-and-breakfast.


Iqaluit has a typically Arctic climate, although it is well outside the Arctic Circle, with very cold winters and short summers that are too cool to permit the growth of trees. Although it is north of the tree line there are still shrubs that are classed, locally, as trees. They are known as Arctic Willow (Salix arctica). They are hard to recognize as a tree because of their height. The permafrost does not allow the taproot to get deeper than 6 in (150 mm) so this does not allow vertical growth. The Arctic Willow may be up to around 25 ft (7.6 m) horizontally, but only 6 in (150 mm) tall. Average monthly temperatures are below freezing for eight months of the year.[8] Iqaluit's precipitation averages just over 400 mm (16 in) annually, much wetter than many other localities in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, with the summer being the wettest season.


Canada Day celebrations in Iqaluit, 1999.
  • Languages[10]
    • English (Official, Federal) 41.2%
    • French (Official, Federal) 5.4%
    • English and French 0.2%
    • Unofficial 53.2% (predominantly Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut (both official at the territorial level) but includes other First Nations languages)

The 2001 Census reported that in Iqaluit 85.6% of the aboriginal population understood aboriginal languages while 91.9% had a knowledge of it.[11]

Notable Iqalummiut


Canadian North, a regional airline, has a regional office in Iqaluit.[13]


Iqaluit has the distinction of being the smallest Canadian capital in terms of population and the only capital that is not connected to other settlements by a highway. Located on an island remote from the Canadian highway system, Iqaluit is generally only accessible by aircraft and, subject to ice conditions, by boat. Iqaluit Airport is a fully modern facility whose originally Second World War era runway is more than long enough for most classes of modern jet. A persistent rumour that Iqaluit is an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle is false.[14] Iqaluit Airport was a centre for cold-weather testing of new aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 in February 2006. Canadian North serves Iqaluit from Ottawa and other Canadian cities as well as First Air. Air Canada will also provide daily service to Iqaluit from Ottawa starting March 28, 2010.[15]

In the middle of summer, a few ships — generally no larger than a Liberty class vessel — transport bulk and heavy goods to the city. Cargo is off-loaded onto barges as the harbour is not deep enough. The city is currently planning a deepwater port.[16] Experienced locals also cross the Hudson Strait from the Canadian mainland when it freezes over, either on foot or by dog sled or snowmobile, a distance of over 100 km (62 mi).

Iqaluit stop sign

Iqaluit has a local road system only stretching from the nearby community of Apex to the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park Reserve, 1 km (0.62 mi) west of town. Iqaluit currently has no public transportation, although there is city-wide taxi service. (There was bus service in the city before, but lack of riders forced the closure of the service.) Motor cars are increasing in number, even to the extent of causing occasional traffic problems, but the cost of shipping them and the wear-and-tear of the harsh Arctic climate and notoriously rough roadways mean that snowmobiles are the preferred form of personal transportation. All-terrain vehicles are also an increasingly common form of transportation in most of the Canadian Arctic. Snowmobiles are extensively used to travel both within the city and in the surrounding area. In winter, dog sleds are still used, however this is primarily recreational. In winter, the nearby Qaummaarviit Territorial Historic Park and the more remote Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve are only accessible by snowmobile, dog sled or foot. In the summer, both are accessible by boat.

Both residents and businesses identify their locations mostly by building number, and occasionally by the name of a prominent structure. Residents know where in the city certain building numbers are located; numbers tend to be aggregated in blocks, so someone might say that they live in the 2600s. Around 2003, street names were adopted, although there were delays in finalising them and then posting the signs. Street numbers have not been assigned, and building numbers continue to be used. Iqaluit is the only Canadian capital city not to have traffic signals.[1].pdf

Architecture and attractions

Much of Iqaluit's architecture is functional — designed to minimize material costs, while retaining heat and withstanding the climate. Early architecture runs from the 1950s military barracks of the original DEW line installation, through the 1970s white hyper-modernist fibreglass block of the Nakasuk School, to the lines of the steel-reinforced concrete high-rise complex on the hill above it. The newer buildings are more colourful and diverse, and closer to the norms of southern architecture, but largely unremarkable.

The principal exception is the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Building, which is remarkable for its colourful interior, adorned with some of the very best in Inuit art.

Another distinctive building was St. Jude's Anglican Cathedral, see of the Anglican Diocese of Arctic, which was a white building shaped like an igloo. Originally built by the parishioners, the altar was shaped like a traditional Inuit sled, and the cross composed of two crossed narwhal tusks. An incident of arson severely affected the Cathedral structure and interior on 5 November 2005,[17] and it was finally demolished on 1 June 2006. Fundraising is under way to rebuild the cathedral. On a ridge overlooking the city is the distinctive blue and white Inuksuk High School. The school is made up of four square sections joined together that give a clover leaf shape when viewed from the air.

The city is also the location of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, which houses a large collection of Inuit and Arctic objects.

Just west of Iqaluit is the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park Reserve. This park is characterised by the valley of the Sylvia Grinnell River. A small visitor's centre with viewing platform is located on top of a hill overlooking scenic waterfalls.

Nearby on an island near Peterhead Inlet, is the Qaummaarviit Territorial Historic Park. It is a site with a long Inuit history and numerous artifacts have been recovered, including the remains of 11 semi-buried sod houses.

A little farther, across Frobisher Bay, are the Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve and the Soper Heritage River Park.



See also


  1. ^ Council Members
  2. ^ Election Results - 2008 General Election
  3. ^ a b c Canada 2006 census
  4. ^ CBC News
  5. ^ CBC News
  6. ^ "Iqaluit Wins the Capital Plebiscite". Nunatisaq News. December 15, 1995. Retrieved 2006-07-30. 
  7. ^ CBC News Iqaluit to host G7 finance meeting
  8. ^ a b "Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000". Environment Canada. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  9. ^ "Calculation Information for 1971 to 2000 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  10. ^ a b c Canada 2001 Census
  11. ^ Canada 2001 Census Aboriginal data
  12. ^ Chasing his dreams – Aqpik Peter leads way for Inuit youth
  13. ^ "contact us: administration." Canadian North. Retrieved on September 17, 2009.
  14. ^ List of Space Shuttle emergency landing sites at
  15. ^ Air Canada expands its network north to Iqaluit
  16. ^ Strategic Plan for the Iqaluit Deepwater Port Project, retrieved from the City of Iqaluit web site, October 2008
  17. ^ CBC News. Cathedral fire

Further reading

  • Baffin Regional Health Board (Nunavut), and Health Needs Assessment Project (Nunavut). Iqaluit Community Profile. Iqaluit, Nunavut?: Health Needs Assessment Project, Baffin Regional Health Board?, 1994.
  • Eno, Robert V. Crystal Two The Origin of Iqaluit. Arctic. 2003.
  • Hodgson, D. A. Quaternary geology of western Meta Incognita Peninsula and Iqaluit area, Baffin Island, Nunavut. Ottawa: Geological Survey of Canada, 2005. ISBN 0-660-19405-8
  • Keen, Jared. Iqaluit Gateway to the Arctic. Calgary: Weigl, 2000. ISBN 1-896990-55-X
  • Kublu, Alexina, and Mélanie Gagnon. Inuit Recollections on the Military Presence in Iqaluit. Memory and history in Nunavut, v. 2. Iqaluit, N.W.T.: Nunavut Arctic College, 2002. ISBN 1-896204-54-6
  • Newbery, Nick. Iqaluit gateway to Baffin. Iqaluit, NT: Published for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 4, Iqaluit by Nortext Pub. Co, 1995. ISBN 1-55036-452-9

External links

Simple English

Location of Iqaluit in Nunavut, Canada
Coordinates: 63°44′55″N 68°31′11″W / 63.74861°N 68.51972°W / 63.74861; -68.51972
Settled 1942
City status April 19, 2001
 - Type Iqaluit Municipal Council
 - Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik
Area [1]
 - Total 52.34 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
Population (2006)[1]
 - Total 6,184
 Density 118/km2 (305.6/sq mi)
Time zone North American Eastern Time Zone (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) -4 (UTC)

Iqaluit is the capital of and largest community in Nunavut Territory in Canada. It is the most northerly capital in Canada, and is also Canada's fastest growing community.[2] The name Iqaluit is Inuktitut word meaning "place of many fish".[3] It is built on the mouth of the Sylvia Grinnell River, on Frobisher's Bay. English explorer Martin Frobisher sailed into the bay in 1576 and thought he had discovered the Northwest Passage.[3] The settlement was called Frobisher's Bay from 1955 until 1987.[3]

Its weather is normally cold.


Iqaluit Climatological Data
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Mean
Record high °C (°F) 4 (39) 4 (39) 4 (39) 7 (45) 13 (55) 22 (72) 26 (79) 26 (79) 17 (63) 7 (45) 6 (43) 4 (39)
Average high °C (°F) -23 (-9) -24 (-11) -19 (-2) -10 (14) -1 (30) 7 (45) 12 (54) 10 (50) 5 (41) -2 (28) -9 (16) -19 (-2) -6 (21)
Mean °C (°F) -27 (-17) -28 (-18) -24 (-11) -15 (5) -4 (25) 4 (39) 8 (46) 7 (45) 2 (36) -5 (23) -13 (9) -23 (-9) -10 (14)
Average low °C (°F) -31 (-24) -32 (-26) -29 (-20) -20 (-4) -8 (18) 0 (32) 4 (39) 3 (37) -0 (32) -8 (18) -18 (-0) -27 (-17) -14 (7)
Record low °C (°F) -45 (-49) -46 (-51) -45 (-49) -34 (-29) -26 (-15) -10 (14) -3 (27) -3 (27) -13 (9) -27 (-17) -36 (-33) -43 (-45)
Precipitation and Sunshine Hours
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Total mm (in) 21 (0.8) 15 (0.6) 22 (0.9) 28 (1.1) 27 (1.1) 35 (1.4) 59 (2.2) 66 (2.6) 55 (2.2) 37 (1.5) 29 (1.1) 18 (0.7) 412 (16.2)
Rainfall mm (in) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (0.1) 25 (1.0) 59 (2.3) 65 (2.6) 42 (1.7) 5 (0.2) 1 (0) 0 (0) 198 (7.8)
Snowfall cm (in) 23 (9.1) 16 (6.3) 25 (9.8) 32 (12.6) 25 (9.8) 10 (3.9) 0 (0) 1 (0.4) 14 (5.5) 35 (13.8) 32 (12.6) 22 (8.7) 236 (92.9)
Sunshine hours 34 98 170 224 194 197 218 170 89 54 40 19 1506
Data recorded at Iqaluit Airport for Environment Canada. Average data recorded over a 30 year span from 1971 to 2000.


Provincial and territorial capitals of Canada
Edmonton, AlbertaVictoria, British ColumbiaWinnipeg, ManitobaFredericton, New BrunswickSt. John's, Newfoundland and LabradorYellowknife, Northwest TerritoriesHalifax, Nova ScotiaIqaluit, NunavutToronto, Ontario • Charlottetown, Prince Edward IslandQuebec City, QuebecRegina, Saskatchewan • Whitehorse, Yukon


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