Chesterfield Inlet

Chesterfield Inlet / Igluligaarjuk Chesterfield Inlet - place with few houses

Chesterfield Inlet / Igluligaarjuk - ᐃᒡᓗᓕᒑᕐᔪᒃ - 'Place with few Thule houses'

Chesterfield Inlet is located on the northwestern coast of Hudson Bay, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Rankin Inlet. It is the oldest permanent settlement in Nunavut. In Inuktitut this place is called 'Igluligaarjuk' which means ‘place with few houses’ because there once was an ancient Thule community that camped here each summer. There were 700 people living here when European and American whalers first arrived and began using the place as a safe winter harbour for their vessels. There are several archaeological sites nearby where ancient tent rings, kayak stands, food cache locations and fox traps still stand. Each year Inuit people travel to this area and to other special places to hunt caribou and fish char. Chesterfield Inlet is a great destination for whale watching and bird watching, with three nearby islands that are nesting grounds for waterfowl. The local Inuit women are well known for their arts and crafts and the local Inuit men are famous for their seafaring skills.

Community Snapshot

Ethnic distribution
90% Inuit
Inuktitut, English

Longitude 95° 45’ W
Latitude 63° 30’ N
Elevation 11m


The local terrain is typical Hudson Bay lowland, with flat expanses of tundra, numerous small rivers and lakes, plus patches of exposed bedrock and coastal gravel deposits.


Summer temperatures here range from 5°C to 15°C when the sun shines constantly for up to 20 hours a day. It gets foggy and rainy in September. Usually it begins to snow in October. Winter temperatures range from -28°C to -35°C. Moderate to strong winds are common. With the winter wind chill, it can feel like -50°C. The shortest days of December have about four hours of sunlight. March and April are the stormy months when blizzards can happen, but the days grow steadily longer then, warmer and brighter each day into June.


chesterfield-inlet-thuleThe ancient Dorset people, followed by the Thule people (the direct ancestors of the Inuit) lived in this region from 500 BC to 1600 AD. They returned each summer to hunt and fish. There was no contact with Europeans for many centuries.

  • 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

The English name for this inlet and its community comes from the mid-1700s when British explorers charted the area while seeking the Northwest Passage. It was named after the British statesman Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, who was Secretary of State for England from 1746-1748.

Throughout the 1800s, to the beginning of the 20th century, European and American whalers visited the western Hudson Bay area regularly and often wintered at Chesterfield Inlet. They relied on the local Inuit to track bowhead and work on the whaleboats. Inuit people from across Kivalliq soon gathered at Chesterfield Inlet to seek whaling employment and trade furs for supplies.

Chesterfield Inlet is the oldest permanent settlement in the Canadian arctic, founded in 1911. Until the 1950s it was the most populated community north of Churchill, Manitoba, serving as the Hudson Bay Company's main supply depot for all the HBC trading posts in the area. With the biggest detachment of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the largest Catholic mission, it soon became the commercial, medical and educational centre of the region.

In 1957 a nickel-copper mine opened at nearby Rankin Inlet and many Inuit men moved from Chesterfield Inlet to work underground there. When the mine closed down in 1962 some of these men returned to Chesterfield Inlet, but by the early 1970s Rankin Inlet had become the new regional centre of Kivalliq. Chesterfield Inlet continues to thrive today, meeting the challenges of infrastructure and economic development while maintaining its Inuit traditions.

Activities & Wildlife

Chesterfield Inlet provides visitors with an arctic experience of a lifetime. You can tour ancient archaeological sites, go whale watching, bird watching, fish for arctic char and lake trout, hunt caribou and view polar bears in their natural surroundings while experiencing the culture and warm hospitality of the local Inuit. Beluga whales thrive here, as do seals and walruses, arctic foxes, lemmings and arctic hares. Explore the area on cross-country skis, by dog sled or snowmobile excursion in the winter and go boating, hiking or by ATV in the summer. Expert local guides will escort you to the best locations for camping, hunting, fishing and sightseeing. The Chesterfield Inlet Historic Trail shows the unique history of this area while leading you to fascinating archaeological sites nearby.

Arts & Culture


Chesterfield Inlet arts and crafts include beautifully handmade articles of Inuit clothing such as amautiit, crocheted hats and fur mitts, plus wall hangings, dolls, jewellery, soapstone and ivory carvings.



Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park
This historic park is located 90 kilometres (56 miles) south of Chesterfield Inlet. It was created to preserve several important archaeological sites and to conserve the habitat of loons, ducks, geese, cranes, voles, lemmings, hares, foxes, wolves, caribou, barren land grizzly and polar bears. It remains a camping and fishing paradise from ancient times. The Medialine River cliff area is called 'Ijiraliq' in Inuktitut, from Inuit legend, referring to the name of someone who turns into a whistling spirit, like a caribou. The archaeological section of the park has numerous artifacts of the Pre-Dorset people dating from 1000 BC, plus tent rings, graves and food cache sites of the Thule people dated to 1200 AD.

Visitor information

Chesterfield Inlet Economic Development Officer
Ph: (867) 898-9206
Fax: (867) 898-9108
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Offices of the Hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet
Ph: (867) 898-9951
Fax: (867) 898-9108
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Arctic Kingdom Expeditions
Arctic Kingdom Expeditions

Graham Dickson

PO Box 6117, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0

416.322.7066 | 1.888.737.6818


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More info ˅˄
Arctic Kingdom is the global leader in land-based travel, custom experiences and logistics in the Arctic. Unparalleled expertise in Arctic wildlife and habitat, and unmatched access, built through years of experience and deep-rooted relationships with local Inuit communities, allows Arctic Kingdom to provide the most incredible Arctic experiences in safety and comfort. Arctic Kingdom uniquely offers polar bear viewing in every season throughout the year, as well as exclusive opportunities to safely see narwhal, bowhead whales, walrus, and even polar diving. From scheduled Arctic safaris, to private journeys, and logistic support for film & TV productions, Arctic Kingdom has been crafting legendary Arctic adventures for almost 20 years.
Far Horizons
Far Horizons

Carole Gobeil

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.
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First Air

Jackie Dankwa

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 Charters

Naomi Vanderval

PO Box 658 , Iqaluit, X0A 0H0

867.975.7536 | 1.855.396.3043


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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.
Nunavut Parks and Special Places
Nunavut Parks and Special Places

P.O. Box 1000, Station 1340, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0



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Ellen Hamilton

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

Max Johnson

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.
Tangmavik Hotel
Tangmavik Hotel

Gary Brandt

PO Box 43, Chesterfield Inlet, NU, Canada, X0C 0B0

(867) 898-9975 | 1-888-866-6784

(867) 898-9056

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Tangmavik Hotel, Inns North is nestled off the western shore of the historic Hudson Bay in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut. The hotel can accommodate 14 people in 7 rooms, each with a private bath. Meals are prepared fresh daily in our dining room. Laundry facilities are available.
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