ᕿᑭᖅᑕᓂ ᐃᓄᐃ ᑲᑐᔾᔨᖃᑎᒌᑦ
Qikiqtani Inuit Association


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Arctic Bay is called Ikpiarjuk - "the pocket" - because of the high hills that surround the almost landlocked bay from which the community gets its name. As you look southward from the community toward 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. Nanisivik has closed as of September 2002.


Captain William Adams 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 1910-1911. A Hudson's Bay Co. post was established here in 1926 but closed the following year. The post 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 at Moffet Inlet, south of Arctic Bay, in 1937. It closed 10 years later, after the accidental shooting and subsequent death of Canon John Turner. A Roman Catholic mission operated in Arctic Bay for a short time in the 1930s. As with most other Baffin Island communities, the present town developed as a result of government housing initiatives in the 1960s.

Arctic Bay: Its Land and Wildlife

Arctic Bay is on Borden 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. Flat-topped King George V Mountain dominates the view to the southeast from the community.

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, Admiralty Inlet plays host to a variety of marine mammals. Narwhals frequent the waters and occasionally come into Arctic Bay itself. Narwhals 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 are often seen in western Admiralty Inlet. Ringed seals are ubiquitous.

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© Qikiqtani Inuit Association 2007