Iqaluit is the capital of the Nunavut territory of Canada, and has a population of over 6,000 people. While its population is the lowest for a provincial or territorial capital city in Canada, it has been growing since the Nunavut territory was formed in 1999. The city sits inside the inlet of Frobisher Bay on the southeast end of Baffin Island.
Iqaluit first began as an American airbase during WWII, and previously had long been used by the Inuit people as a fishing spot and campsite. After WWII, NORAD radar stations were set up in the city during the cold war to help detect launched enemy ballistic missiles. It was during this time that many of the Inuits moved to Iqaluit and the town grew. After the American military left in the 1960s, the Canadian government stayed and continued to use Iqaluit as an administrative and logistical centre for the eastern arctic.
The main attractions of Iqaluit are its architecture. Its new buildings are remarkably colorful. The Nunavut Legislative Assembly Building, for example, is decorated with impressive Inuit Art. The St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral was also a notable building for its igloo-shaped design and white exterior, but it burned down. Preparations for rebuilding it are already underway.
Iqaluit features one notable museum, the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, which showcases a large collection of arctic and Inuit artifacts. Also nearby is the Qaummaarviit Territorial Historic Park, where you’ll find a museum that dedicated to Inuit history; it exhibits numerous Inuit artifacts as well as remains of excavated sod houses.
Like most Nunavut and Northwest Territories’ destinations, the main draw of Iqaluit is its outdoors. Iqaluit is close to the Sylvia Grinnel Park Reserve, which features scenic falls from its hill elevation. At the Frobisher Bay is the Soper Heritage River Park, which highlights the Soper River emptying its 100 kilometer stretch onto Soper Lake and Pleasant Inlet.
How to Get There
Iqaluit is not accessible by highway. It is located on an island and can only be reached by aircraft and by boat when conditions are amenable. It is also possible to reach Iqaluit by dog sled, snowmobile, or by boat from Quebec when the Hudson Strait is frozen during winter.