Arctic Bay

Arctic Bay / Ikpiarjuk

Arctic Bay / Ikpiarjuk - ᐃᒃᐱᐊᕐᔪᒃ - 'the pocket'

Arctic Bay is a vibrant, traditional community located in the northwest corner of Baffin Island. This safe harbour hamlet is situated upon a south-facing gravel beach on Adams Sound, which feeds into Admiralty Inlet, draining northwards to Lancaster Sound and the Northwest Passage. Inhabited by nomadic arctic peoples for 5,000 years, it is also named 'Ikpiarjuk' which means 'the pocket' in Inuktitut, referring to the way the site is surrounded by protective hills on three sides. Its sheltered shores and steep cliffs provide nesting habitat for many unique species of High Arctic birds and its sea waters are home to narwhals and bowhead whales. Every year in the spring a popular dog sledding race takes place between Arctic Bay and Igloolik that draws the best teams from across Nunavut. Link

Community Snapshot

Ethnic distribution
95% Inuit
Inuktitut, English

Longitude 85° 10’ W
Latitude 73° 02’ N
Elevation 31m


The dramatic terrain around Arctic Bay is comprised of scenic geological formations, with hoodoos, flat-topped pillars of stone and sheer 183 metre (600 foot) red rock cliffs. Repeated ice age glacial erosion created deep valleys and beautiful fiords, including nearby Admiralty Inlet, which is the longest fiord in the world.


Arctic Bay enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 6 to August 6. Summer temperatures range from 0°C to 15°C. Protected from strong north winds, Arctic Bay enjoys a surprisingly stable climate. Fall and spring weather is variable, with temperatures between 0°C and -30°C. The snow begins to melt in May, but the sea ice doesn't break up until the end of July. Winter temperatures hover around -35°C yet can sometimes drop to -50°C on very rare occasions.


For 5,000 years the nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors of the Inuit people came to this place especially for a valuable raw material. At nearby Uluksan Point, located at the mouth of Arctic Bay, slate is found that was ideal for making the 'ulu' — woman's knife.

  • Paleo-Eskimo Culture: 2500 BC to 1500 BC
  • Pre-Dorset Culture ('Saqqaq'): 2500 BC to 500 BC
  • Dorset Culture ('Tuniit' or 'Sivullirmiut'): 500 BC to 1500 AD
  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

In 1872 a whaling ship called the Arctic, captained by William Adams from Scotland, passed through and gave the area its English names, Arctic Bay and Adams Sound. In 1911, Captain Bernier of Canada arrived here in his sailing vessel, also called the Arctic, to establish and proclaim sovereignty over the High Arctic islands of this region. Norway was trying to claim the archipelago for itself. Bernier left behind some historical markers in this area — a wooden cross, several cairns, painted rocks, a lead plaque and a grave.

The Hudson Bay Company built a trading post here in 1926, but closed it down the next year. Until it reopened in 1933, local Inuit were forced to travel 240 kilometres (149 miles) to Pond Inlet or 425 kilometres (264 miles) to Igloolik to conduct trade. Reverend Jack Turner opened an Anglican mission in 1937 at nearby Moffat Inlet. In 1941 a joint Canada-US weather station was built here that operated for twenty years. It is the oldest building still standing. The first school was erected in 1959. Medical facilities and public housing units were constructed in the 1960s. The Government of Canada would not provide social assistance money to nomadic Inuit families living out on the land, so most local people settled into the community during the late 1960s, with the last family moving off the land in 1971. The hamlet of Arctic Bay was founded in 1976.

On October 15, 1976, a lead-zinc-silver mine opened 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Arctic Bay at the small community of Nanisivik. It was the first mine in the world north of the Arctic Circle. The road between Nanisivik and Arctic Bay is the only highway in Nunavut and the only road in the territory that connects two communities. The Nanisivik mine closed down in 2002 and its community was completely dismantled. Expansion of the Arctic Bay airport was begun in 2008. Until the new airport opened in 2011, large aircraft used the Nanisivik airport, which is now mothballed.

Activities & Wildlife


comm-qik-arcticbay-alberg-nunavutEach year when the seaways are open tourists arrive on High Arctic and Northwest Passage cruise ships to experience the sights and sounds of Arctic Bay, sampling the local cuisine, meeting artists, acquiring carvings and other handicrafts. The sheltered harbour is ideal for yachts in the summer. Marine mammals to view near here include bowhead whales, narwhals, seals and occasionally polar bears. There are arctic hares, arctic foxes, lemmings and marmots. Dozens of species of migratory High Arctic seabirds such as thick-billed murres, snow geese, kittiwakes, ivory gulls and Ross's gulls have breeding grounds in the vicinity that are very active in the summer. Hiking, camping and fishing are popular local activities in nearby Sirmilik National Park. Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dog sledding tours are other fun things to do. Traditional Inuit games, competitions, dances and community feasts take place here each spring in conjunction with the annual dog sledding race between the communities of Arctic Bay and Igloolik.


Arts & Culture


Arctic Bay artists and seamstresses produce high-quality marble carvings, ivory sculptures, traditional clothes and other fine crafts and artworks that can be viewed and purchased directly from the talented local artists themselves. The Qimatuligvik Heritage Organization, which is run by the hamlet and open year-round, is an excellent venue to learn more about the local Inuit culture, with a diorama display plus arts and crafts gift shop.

Qimatuligvik Heritage Organization 
Ph: (867) 439-8077 



Sirmilik National Park
Arctic Bay is near the western boundary of Sirmilik National Park. This huge park represents the Northern Eastern Arctic Lowlands Natural Region and portions of the Lancaster Sound Marine Region. It features beautiful landforms and superb wilderness hiking and camping sites. Sirmilik comprises three separate land areas: Borden Peninsula is an extensive plateau dissected by broad river valleys. Oliver Sound is a long, narrow fiord with excellent opportunities for boating, hiking and camping. Bylot Island is a spectacular area of rugged mountains, glaciers, coastal lowlands and seabird colonies.

Visitor information

Qimatuligvik Heritage Organization
Managed by the Hamlet of Arctic Bay.
Ph: (867) 439-8077
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Offices of Sirmilik National Park
Ph: (867) 899-8092
Fax: (867) 899-8104 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Offices of the Hamlet of Arctic Bay 
Ph: (867) 439-9917
Fax: (867) 439-8767 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (website under construction)



Complete Expeditions Inc.
Complete Expeditions Inc.

Peter Jess

50 Confederation Villas NW, Calgary, AB, T2L 2K9



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With decades of knowledge and experience, Complete Expeditions (ComEx), is a premier licensed guiding and outfitting company, specializing in the world's last frontier: The Northwest Passage. ComEx provides yacht/port agency services including yacht support operations, aircraft operations, and remote area logistics to its clientele in Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. ComEx offers the most comprehensive super yacht services in the region including ice pilotage, local guiding and naturalist knowledge, yacht/port agency, permitting, provisioning and logistical support and planning for vessels transiting the Northwest Passage. With extensive local knowledge, ComEx safely takes clients to experience jaw-dropping pristine landscapes, exotic animal encounters, amazing angling, vibrant local Inuit culture, and untouched ancient Inuit cultural sites throughout Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. Contact us to discuss your custom arctic experience.
Eagle-Eye Tours, Inc.
Eagle-Eye Tours, Inc.

Cam Gillies

4711 Galena Street, Windermere, BC, V0B 2L2



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Eagle-Eye Tours is a global leader offering small group birding and nature tours and small ship expedition cruises. Our Nunavut tours include birding and wildlife viewing from land and sea. We offer an unforgettable floe edge trip from Pond Inlet where you can expect great birding and the chance to see narwhal, polar bears and much more! On this remarkable tour we travel with Inuit to the wildlife rich edge of the sea ice. Our Cambridge Bay tour includes birding and chance to see muskox on the beautiful arctic tundra. Our expedition cruises span the arctic including the Northwest Passage. With over 20 years of experience, we offer exceptional experiences in Nunavut; give us a call!
Far Horizons
Far Horizons

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6-2868 Hwy 43, RR1, Kemptville, ON, K0G 1J0

800.298.6607 x 204

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Far Horizons is an established retail and wholesale tour operator, since 1986, customizing unique and original travel packages to exotic destinations for travelers from around the world. Carole Gobeil joined the company in 2015 as their polar travel specialist. Carole has been traveling in the Arctic since 2005 and has a great passion for the North, She is fully bilingual, English and French. She escorts small personalized groups to the Arctic and builds packages suited to one's specific needs and desires.
First Air
First Air

PO Box 477, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0



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Scheduled, cargo and charter passenger flights to and within the NWT, Nunavut and Nunavik.  Main gateways:  Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Iqaluit and Yellowknife.  26 destinations in the North with over 20 aircraft.  All scheduled First Air flights earn Aeroplan points.  Charter air service also available worldwide.
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Keewatin Air LP

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PO Box 658 , Iqaluit, X0A 0H0

867.979.2790 | 1.877.879.8477


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Keewatin Air offers air charter services throughout the entire Nunavut Territory, in addition to to our world-renowned medivac services. For an amazing tour of the Iqaluit area, our 1 hour sight-seeing tours are extremely popular. Contact us today for your free quote.
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Pinnguaq Association

Ryan Oliver

PO Box 523, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0


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Pinnguaq means "Play" in Inuktitut and with office now in Nunavut, Ontario and B.C. we have a mandate to create interactive experiences that push both the limits of technology and cultural expression. Whether focused on film, virtual reality, gaming, education or application development we combine a passion for culture and technology to both stimulate and entertain.

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PO Box 383, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0


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Qaggiavuut is a non-profit society to strengthen, promote, advocate and create space for Nunavut performing artists with a focus on Inuit. Our work includes advocacy for a Nunavut Performing Arts Center, training and promotion of Nunavut performers, children's performing arts programs, create new Inuit language performance work and preserving traditional Inuit performing arts.
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Tabagari, Taylor & Johnson

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70 Algonquin Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R2G 2H3


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TTJ Tourism provides community-based tourism consultancy services. We additionally offer individualized marketing and sales strategies, and work with companies, hamlets, regional organizations and government to develop and implement tourism strategies.
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