Igloolik: "Place of Iglus"

Population estimate: approximately 1,600


Information about the area's earliest inhabitants comes mainly from numerous archeologicals sites on the island; some dating back more than 4000 years. Many Igloolik people are descended from members of Qidlarssuaq migration to Greenland in 1800s.

First contact with Europeans came when British Navy ships Fury and Hecla, under the command of Captain William Edward Parry, wintered in Igloolik in 1822.

The island was briefly visited in 1867 and 1868 by an American explorer, Charles Frances Hall in his futile search for survivors of lost the Franklin Expedition. In 1913, Alfred Tremblay, a French-Canadian prospector with Captain Joseph Bernier's expedition to Pond Inlet, extended his mineral exploration overland to Igloolik, and in 1921, member of Knud Rasmussen's Fifth Thule Expedition visited the island.

The first permanent presence of outsiders in Igloolik came after the establishment of a Roman Catholic Mission in the 1930s. By the end of the decade, the Hudson's Bay Company also set up a post on the island.

The present community of Igloolik dates back from the late 1950s with the federal government increasing administrative interest in the Arctic. By the mid-1960s, a school, a nursing station, and a RCMP detachment were permanently established, as well as the Anglican Mission (1959) and the Igloolik Co-operative Ltd. (1963). As with other settlements in the eastern Arctic, Igloolik grew rapidly as Inuit families from surrounding camps moved into the community to avail themselves of services offered by government agencies.

Land and Wildlife

In season, the island's flat accessible terrain, in many parts blanketed with flowering tundra plants, makes bird watching, hiking and camping especially rewarding. Numerous migratory birds visit the area in late spring and summer, many of them nesting locally, including loons, geese, eider ducks, terns , jaegers, plovers, snow bunting and snowy owl.

Break up of ice around Igloolik Island usually occurs in late July or early August. During subsequent open-water season, which lasts until mid-October, boating excursions into Fury and Hecla Strait are frequently rewarded with the unforgettable sight of bowhead whales on their summer migration in northern Foxe Basin.