Whale Cove

Whale Cove / Tikirarjuaq - ᑎᑭᕋᕐᔪᐊᖅ - 'Long point'

The pretty little hamlet of Whale Cove is situated on a long point of the Canadian mainland that projects into northwestern Hudson Bay. Also known as 'Tikirarjuaq' in Inuktitut, 'long point' is located about 72 kilometres (45 miles) south of Rankin Inlet; just 80 kilometres (50 miles) from historic Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Park. The way of life here is proudly traditional — a mixed mosaic of three distinct Inuit dialects and cultures originating from inland and coastal traditions. The English name for this sheltered cove and its community comes from the great abundance of beluga whales that congregate here. Whale Cove is on the seasonal polar bear migration route, a popular place for arctic travellers to visit year after year with their families!

Community Snapshot

Ethnic distribution
95% Inuit
Inuktitut, English

Longitude 95° 51’ W
Latitude 68° 38’ N
Elevation 40m


Rolling hills, tundra valleys, wild coastal beaches, with many crystal clean lakes and rivers.


Summer temperatures range from 5°C to 20°C, with periods of rain. The sea ice breaks up in June when the sun shines 20 hours a day. Snow starts to accumulate in October. With many windy days here, huge snowdrifts are common. The shortest days of December have four hours of sunshine.


whale-cove-historyThe indigenous forerunners of the Inuit, the Pre-Dorset people, were living in this part of Nunavut long before biblical David became king of the ancient Israelites. At Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park, located 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Whale Cove, there are numerous Pre-Dorset archaeological sites dating from 1000 BC to 500 BC, plus Thule sites dated to 1200 AD.

  • 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

The Thule people were bowhead whale hunters. The inland and coastal Inuit peoples of Whale Cove are caribou, hare, fox, wolf, geese, ptarmigan, seal, walrus, polar bear, bowhead and beluga whale hunters, plus expert fishers of char, turbot, cod and trout.

In 1613 the British explorer Thomas Button visited the Whale Cove area while searching for the Northwest Passage and the lost Hudson expedition of 1611. A generation later, continuing the same search in 1631, the British explorer Luke Foxe sailed the entire western coastline of Hudson Bay before concluding no passage to China was possible here. The Hudson Bay Company (HBC), incorporated by English royal charter in 1670, arrived into the Whale Cove area during the 1700s to trade rifles, ammunition, tea and sugar for valuable furs harvested by the local Inuit men.

The permanent settlement of Whale Cove was created during the Keewatin Famine in the winter of 1957-1958 when many Inuit faced starvation as the caribou disappeared. The Government of Canada relocated disparate survivors of the famine to Whale Cove where it was believed that wildlife resources would allow these peoples to live by their traditions of hunting, fishing and trapping. The settlement was formed with three distinctly different groups of Inuit people, with different dialects, kinships and cultural histories.

  • Hauniqturmiut — coastal; from Arviat to the Whale Cove area
  • Paallirmiut — inland; from the Baker Lake to Arviat area
  • Qaernermiut — coastal; Chesterfield Inlet to Whale Cove area

Like many Nunavut communities today, Whale Cove relies heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing. Seal, walrus and beluga meats are the main foods provided by the men, as well as lake trout and arctic char, augmented by seasonal caribou and polar bear hunting. Added to this traditional diet of arctic fishes and mammals, the women harvest highly nutritious wild berries in the summertime.

Activities & Wildlife

The fishing here is excellent. Each spring there is an annual fishing derby for the biggest lake trout. In the fall, large pods of beluga whales congregate near the shores of the cove. There are lots of seals and walrus, arctic char and lake trout, arctic hares and polar bears. Participating on expeditions with the local people you can travel inland on dog sleds, snowmobiles or ATVs to camp out while hunting caribou, fishing the rivers and lakes, berry picking and gathering goose eggs. There are igloo building competitions and snowmobile races in the spring. In the summer, Whale Cove stages traditional Inuit games and holds contests such as tea and bannock making, inuksuk building and rabbit hunting.

Arts & Culture

Whale Cove est une collectivité traditionnelle riche des différences subtiles entre les trois groupes inuits qui la composent. Pour en apprendre davantage au sujet des arts et de la culture de l'endroit, communiquez avec le bureau du hameau et, lorsque vous passerez dans le coin, assurez-vous de visiter la coopérative Issatik.

Issatik Eskimo Co-op
Personne ressource : Bernice Croucher
Tél. : (867) 896-9927
Téléc. : (867) 896-9087
www.arcticco-op.com/acl-keewatin-whale-cove.htm (en anglais)


Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park
This historic park is located 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Whale Cove. 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

Offices of the Hamlet of Whale Cove
Ph: (867) 896-9961


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. www.arctickingdom.com
Far Horizons
Far Horizons

Carole Gobeil

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

800.298.6607 x 204

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More info ˅˄
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.
Inns North
Inns North

Holly Harel

1645 Inkster Boulevard, Winnipeg, R2X2W7

204.697.2243 | 1.888.866.6784


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Head Office for Inns North hotels
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Keewatin Air LP

Nicole Rebeck

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.
Nunavut Parks and Special Places
Nunavut Parks and Special Places

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



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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.

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.
Tavanni Hotel
Tavanni Hotel

Thomas Stanley

PO Box 60, Whale Cove, X0C 0J0

867.898.9190 | 1.888.866.6784


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Tavanni Hotel, Inns North can accommodate 12 people in 6 newly renovated rooms. Each room features a flat screen television, cable, complimentary wireless internet, telephone and private bath. Meals are prepared fresh daily in our newly renovated dining room. Laundry facilities are available.
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