GRISE FIORD Back to map
At 76º 24 ' N, Grise Fiord is Canada's most northerly community. It is situated on the southern coast of Ellesmere Island,
overlooking Jones Sound. The community rests at the foot of 600 m high mountains, 1,544 km from the North Pole. At this latitude,
the midnight sun of summer, from April through August, means that days end only when your energy goes. The period of 24 hour
a day light is appropriately referred to as "light season". By September, some darkness returns to the high arctic night,
increasing until the end of October, when darkness prevails throughout the day ("dark season"). The sun makes it eagerly awaited reappearance on the ninth, tenth or eleventh of February.
Wildlife: Spectacle and Resources
Among the attractions of Grise Fiord is the possibility it offers to view various species of marine and land mammals, as well as birds. Most wildlife species in the north, however, are not only a marvelous spectacle to observe, they are also important to the local economy and culture. The following is a list of the major species of interest: Ringed Seal, Harp and bearded seals, Moskox, Beluga, Narwhal, Polar Bear, Walrus, Raven, sea birds and waterfowl, Ivory gull, Northern fulmar, black-legged guillemots, Oldsquaws and eiders (king and common), Canada geese, brant, arctic tern, snow buntings, jaegers, snowgeese, and gyrfalcon. Coburg Island, a proposed National Wildlife Area 100 km to the southeast of the community, is considered one of the most important nesting areas for seabirds in the Canadian Arctic.
There is evidence of peoples with Pre-Dorset, Dorset, and Thule (ancestors of the Inuit) cultures having inhabited Ellesmere Island, However, by at least the 18th century, these inhabitants had disappeared. The next occupation was temporary, but several Inuit from Pond Inlet who migrated to Greenland via Ellesmere Island in the mid-nineteenth century. For the next century, the only inhabitants, apart from passing European explorers, were occasional hunters from Greenland and RCMP officers and the Inuit families they employed.
The community was created in 1953 when the Canadian government relocated 3 families from Port Harrison (now Inukjuak), Quebec. They were accompanied by one family from Pond Inlet who were to ease their adjustment to life in the High Arctic. The reason for, and the soundness of, this decision are subjects of much public debate. The stated motivation was to improve the lives of these people who suffered the consequences of bad hunting conditions at home. Critics, however, charge that the intention of asserting Canadian sovereignty over the High Arctic took precedence over the well-being of the immigrants.
The original settlement was located on Lindstrom Peninsula, 8 km west of the present location. In 1962, the Inuit followed the RCMP to their new site at Grise Fiord, where the community remains. Several building structures at the "old camp" still stand.