Enjoy Iqaluit, Nunavut

Iqaluit pronounces it "place of many fish" (Iqaluit); in French, it's pronounced []. Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, a province in Canada. It is the only city and biggest town in the territory. 

The name came from the big bay on the coast of the city; it was used from 1942 to 1987. It is Canada's northernmost city, and in 1987, its original Inuktitut name was brought back.

After the Northwest regions were split into two separate regions in 1999, Iqaluit was named the capital of Nunavut. 

Before this happened, Iqaluit was a small city that wasn't well known outside of the Canadian Arctic or Canada. It also had grown little in terms of people or economy. 

This is because the city is very far from the rest of Canada and has to rely on expensive goods brought in from other countries. 

Like the rest of Nunavut, the city has no roads or rail links and can only reach the rest of Canada by ship for part of the year. 

While Iqaluit is well south of the Arctic Circle, it has a polar temperature because of the Labrador Current, which flows through it and brings cold water from Baffin Island.

According to the 2021 Canadian census, 7,429 people lived there (population centre: 6,991 people), 4% less than the 2016 census. 

The fewest people live in Iqaluit compared to any other Canadian capital city. The people who live in Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq).

History of Iqaluit, Nunavut

Iqaluit has been a fishing spot for thousands of years for the Inuit and their ancestors, the Paleo-Eskimo (Dorset culture) and Thule. The name comes from the Inuktitut phrase "place of many fish."

During World War II, many not Inuit people moved to the area. This happened in 1942 when the United States built Frobisher Bay Air Base there on a long-term lease from the Canadian Government so that short-range planes going to Europe to help the war effort could stop and refuel. 

Nakasuk, an Inuk guide, was the first to live permanently in Iqaluit. He helped US Army Air Forces planners find a place with a big flat area that would work as a landing strip. 

The airport was part of the Crimson Route during the war and was called Crystal Two. It is now called Iqaluit Airport.

The Inuit had used it for a long time as a place to camp and fish. They called it Iqaluit, which means "place of many fish" in Inuktitut. The US and Canadian governments named it Frobisher Bay, which comes from the name of the lake it faces.

In 1949, the Hudson's Bay Company moved its operations from south Baffin to Apex (shown in 2005) so that they could use the close airport.

After the war, in 1949, the Hudson's Bay Company moved its operations in south Baffin to the nearby valley of Niaqunngut, officially named Apex, so that they could use the airport. 

In the middle of the 1950s, Frobisher Bay's population grew quickly while the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW line), a network of defensive radar sites (see North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)), was being built.

Hundreds of mostly non-Inuit construction workers, military members, and administrative staff moved into the town. 

A few hundred Inuit people then moved there to take advantage of the jobs and medical care the base operations offered. By 1957, 489 of the town's 1,200 people were said to be Inuit. 

After 1959, the Canadian government set up fixed services at Frobisher Bay, such as a school, social services, and full-time doctors. 

The number of Inuit people grew quickly because the government encouraged them to live permanently in communities where they received government help.

Naval Radio Station (NRS) Frobisher Bay (HMCS Frobisher Bay), named CFI, was built in July 1954 when NRS Chimo, Quebec, shut down. 

Supplementary Radio had station CFI as a part of its network. It cost a lot to run because it was so far away and big. 

In 1966, CFI was renamed CFS Frobisher Bay, but as technology improved, it had to be shut down later that same year.

The US military left Iqaluit in 1963 because the DEW line and Arctic airbases were less important from a strategic point of view as they worked on developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). 

At Frobisher Bay, Canada continued to run an administrative and supply hub for most of the eastern Arctic. In 1964, the fir²aluit was built over Rankin Inlet to become the capital. It was made a city on April 19, 2001.

The meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers took place in Iqaluit, Canada, on February 5th and 6th, 2010. 

The needs of the international meeting put extra strain on the northern communications technology infrastructure and needed extra investment. 


Iqaluit is 63 degrees north of the Equator, making it the most northern city in Canada. It is located southeast of Baffin Island, in the Everett Mountains. 

These mountains rise from the Koojesse opening, an opening of Frobisher Bay. It's far east of Nunavut's mainland and north of Hudson Bay.


Even though it is not in the Arctic Circle, Iqaluit has a typical climate of the tundra (Koppen: ET). The winters in the city are long and cold, and the summers are short and cool. 

Eight months out of the year, the average monthly temperature is below freezing. [18] Iqaluit gets just over 400 mm (16 in) of rain a year, much more than many other places in the Arctic Archipelago. 

The summer is the wettest season. Even though Iqaluit is a few degrees cooler than Fairbanks, Alaska, the winter temperatures are about the same as those in Yellowknife and some other northern cities further west on the continent. 

It is much colder in the summer because it is farther east in the ocean, and the cold Baffin Island Current flows through it. 

This means the tree line is much farther south in eastern Canada, going as far south as northern Labrador, even though it is not very high.

Even though it is north of the natural tree line, some short imported black spruce (Picea mariana) trees facing south are covered by snowdrifts in the winter. There are also a few shrubs, which are woody plants. 

One of these is the Arctic willow (Salix arctica). Sometimes, the Arctic willow is up to 7.6 m (25 ft) wide but only 150 mm (6 in) tall.

Iqaluit is also colder than places along the Gulf Stream with the same latitude. For instance, the average yearly temperature in the Norwegian city of Trondheim is 15.2 °C (27.4 °F) lower.

On February 10, 1967, it was -45.6 °C (-50.1 °F), the coldest it had ever been in Iqaluit. On July 21, 2008, it was 26.8 °C (80.2 °F), the hottest it had ever been.


Apex (Niaqunngut), part of the City of Iqaluit, is a small town about 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast (63°43′20″N 068°26′56″W[23]) of the city's center. 

It is called Niaqunngut in Inuktitut. It is on a small point that separates Koojesse Inlet from Tarr Inlet. The neighborhood includes a church, a women's shelter, a main school (Nanook Elementary School), a design shop, and a bed and breakfast. 

When Iqaluit was a military base and not open to people who were not working there, most Inuit lived in Apex.


Iqaluit's architecture is functional, meaning it was made to keep heat in and survive the weather while using as little material as possible. 

You can see early architecture from the military barracks of the original DEW line site in the 1950s to the white hyper-modernist fiberglass block of the Nakasuk School and Municipal Offices and Arena in the 1970s. 

Then, there are the steel-reinforced concrete high-rise complex lines on top of the hill. Some older buildings from the Hudson's Bay Company and the early 1950s have been kept and fixed in Apex. 

For example, the old nursing station is now the Rannva Bed and Breakfast, and one of the HBC buildings is now an art studio. The newer houses are more colorful and varied and look more like homes in the south.

The Nunavut Legislative Assembly Building is the only one that is different from the others. Its bright interior is filled with some of the best Inuit art. On the Apex Road, outside of the city, plans are being made for a new legislature building.

A white building shaped like an igloo was St. Jude's Anglican Cathedral, which stood out as the sight of the Anglican Diocese of The Arctic. 

The parishioners made the altar with the help of a traditional master carpenter named Markoosie Peter. It looked like an Inuit boat, and the cross comprised two narwhal tusks crossed over each other. 

The building and interior of the Cathedral were badly damaged by arson on November 5, 2005, and it was torn down on June 1, 2006. The church is slowly being rebuilt (foundation in 2008, superstructure in 2010), and people worldwide are still raising money for it. 

The outside of a new church with a similar shape was finished in December 2010. Work on the inside was set to begin in 2011, and the cathedral might be ready for Christmas 2011. 

The new building, which people sometimes call the "Igloo Cathedral," opened on June 3, 2012. Iqalummiut (the people of Iqaluit) have long used the one-of-a-kind building as an igloo as a landmark and a tourist draw. It also plays an important spiritual role for them.

The blue and white Inuksuk High School stands out on a hill with a city view. Four square parts are joined together to make the school. When seen from above, they look like a cloverleaf.

A big collection of Inuit and Arctic items can be seen at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in the city. It is housed in a red-and-white Hudson's Bay Company building that was moved from its original location on Apex Beach to Iqaluit and then fixed up and expanded.

Park named after Sylvia Grinnell is just west of Iqaluit. The valley of the Sylvia Grinnell River takes up most of this park. On top of a hill is a small tourist center with a viewing platform that looks out over beautiful waterfalls, tidal flats, and traditional fishing spots.

A territorial park called Qaummaarviit is close by. It is on an island near Peterhead Inlet. The Inuit lived there for a long time, and many items, including the remains of 11 partially buried sod houses, have been found there.

The Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve and the Canadian Heritage River Soper are a little further away, across Frobisher Bay. They form a park corridor that connects Iqaluit to Kimmirut (formerly Lake Harbour) along old overland journey routes. 

To the east, Frobisher Bay goes on for about 110 km (70 mi), and it has moderate hills, glaciers, and traditional and summer camp sites. It finishes at the Davis Strait, which separates Nunavut from Greenland.

Like many other towns in Nunavut, Iqaluit has a spring festival every year that volunteers run. The Toonik Tyme festival combines traditional Inuit activities with more modern ones. 

The Alianait Music and Arts Festival lasts for a week every June 21. Artists from Canada and around the world, such as Joshua Haulli, Quantum Tangle, Washboard Hank, and Namgar, have performed at the festival.


Statistics Canada's 2021 Canadian census found that there were 7,429 people living in 2,708 of Iqaluit's 3,297 private homes. This was down 4% from 2016, when there were 7,740 people living there. In 2021, there were 144.0 people per km2 (373.0 people per sq mi) of land that made up 51.58 km2 (19.92 sq mi).

The median price of these homes is $376,639. This is a lot more than the national median price of $280,552. Most homes have about 2.8 people living in them, and most families have about 1.4 children living with them. 

After taxes, the typical household income in Iqaluit is $98,921, which is a lot of money. It's almost twice as much as the national average of $54,089. 

Also, the average pay for a person in the city is $60,688. While 8.6% of people in the country are divorced or separated, only 5.9% of people over 15 are divorced or separated. Another fact is that 53.3% of people are married or live with a common law partner.

People in Iqaluit are pretty young. The median age is 30.1 years, which is more than 10 years younger than the national average of 40.6 years.

For people over 25:which 

  • Most of them (15.9%) have at least a high school diploma, 75.7%.
  • 59.8% have completed college or university.
  • 24.3% do not have a degree, certificate, or license.

According to the 2021 census, immigrants (people born outside of Canada) make up 750 people, or 10.3% of Iqaluit's overall population. 

The countries from which the most immigrants came were Philippines (195 people, or 26.0%), Cameroon (50 people, or 6.7%), UK (40 people, or 5.3%), Nigeria (40 people, or 5.3%), Zimbabwe (40 people, or 5.3%), USA (35 people, or 4.7%), India (25 people, or 3.3%), Pakistan (20 people, or 2.7%), China (20 people, or 2.7%), Jamaica (20 people, or 2.7%), and Ethiopia (20 people, or 2.7%). 

Race or ethnicity

There are more Inuit in Iqaluit than in any other city in Canada with a population of more than 5,000 people as of 2016. There are 3,900 of them living there, which is 591.1% of the population.


In Iqaluit, there is no "majority mother tongue" because 45.4% of people said English was their mother tongue and 45.4% said Inuktitut was their mother tongue. 

However, 97.2 percent of people who live in Iqaluit know English and only 53.1% can speak Inuktitut. 4.8% of the people spoke French as their first language, which is the same percentage of people who can speak the language. 

In 2012, "Pirurvik, Iqaluit's Inuktitut language training centre, has a new goal: to train instructors from Nunavut communities to teach Inuktitut in different ways and in their own dialects when they return home." 


Five schools in the area are run by the Qikiqtani School Operations, which is based in Pond Inlet. The Nanook Elementary School in Apex, the Nakasuk School, and the Joamie Ilinniarvik School all have kindergarten through fifth grade. 

From grades 6 to 8, Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik School is for you, and from grades 9 to 12, Inuksuk High School is for you.

From kindergarten to grade 12, École des Trois-Soleils is run by the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut.

Nunavut Arctic College (Nunatta Campus) and Akitsiraq Law School are the two that are after high school.

Services for medical care

The main hospital in the city is Qikiqtani General Hospital. The hospital also has a Family Practice Clinic where Nurse Practitioners provide basic care. There are two dental offices in the city.

Places to play sports

The city of Iqaluit has a curling rink, the Iqaluit Aquaplex, two arenas (Arnaitok and Arctic Winter Games Arena), the Timmianut Pikiuqarvik disc golf course, the Frobisher Inn Fitness Centre, and more. 

The Brown Building/Astro Hill Complex has a golf course, outdoor basketball courts, soccer nets, outdoor ice rinks during the winter, a gun range, a skatepark, and more.


Iqaluit has the fewest people of any capital city in Canada, and it is also the only capital city that isn't linked to other towns by a highway. Iqaluit is on an island that is far from Canada's highways. The only ways to get there are by plane or, if the ice is bad enough, by boat.

The runway at Iqaluit Airport is big enough for most modern jet planes, so the airport is very modern. In 2018, a new, bigger passenger station building was finished to the north of the old one.

Canadian North goes to Iqaluit from Ottawa, Yellowknife, and a number of Nunavut towns. Air Nunavut, Canadian Helicopters, Nunasi Helicopters, and Unaalik Aviation are all local companies that offer air charters. 

Air Nunavut and Keewatin Air also offer MEDIVAC (air ambulance) service. In 2010 and 2011, Air Canada Jazz flew to Iqaluit every day from Ottawa. But, because of rising fuel prices, the route could no longer make money, and the service was canceled.

The Royal Canadian Air Force used Iqaluit's runway until the Canadian Forces stopped using it as a Canadian NORAD Region Forward Operating Location. 

The barracks and CF-188 hangars are kept in good shape. The airport has been a place where new planes have been tested in cold weather, like the Airbus A380 in February 2006.

There are no truth to the rumours that Iqaluit was a place where the Space Shuttle could land in an emergency.

A few ships, usually no bigger than a Liberty-class ship, bring bulk and heavy goods to the city in the middle of summer. Currently, cargo is loaded onto barges because the harbor isn't deep enough. 

However, the city is building a deep seaport that should be ready in 2023. The deep-seaport, which will cost about $85 million, will give ships access at all tides and have room for one ship to dock and unload, with the option to offload a second ship using a barge-and-ramp method. The original plans for the port included facilities for a ferry
connection to the vehicle.

The only local roads in Iqaluit connect the town to the close community of Apex and the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, which is 1 km (0.62 mi) west of town. 

Iqaluit has no public transportation, but there is cab service all over the city. Iqaluit Public Transit used to run a bus service in the city, but because not many people used it, it was canceled. 

The number of cars is growing to the point where they sometimes cause traffic jams, which are called "the rush minute" in this area. 

Snowmobiles are still the most popular way to get around because it's expensive to ship cars to the Arctic and the roads are famously rough. 

Most of the Canadian Arctic is also home to a lot of all-terrain cars. People use snowmobiles to get around the city and the area around it. 

Dog sleds are still used in the winter, but mostly for fun. The close Qaummaarviit Territorial Park and the farther away Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve can only be reached by snowmobile, dog sled, or foot in the winter. 

During the summer, you can reach both by boat. Most of Iqaluit's major roads are asphalt, but most of the town's smaller and less important roads are dirt. No traffic lights are on the roads; instead, stop signs direct the intersections.

People and companies usually know where they are by building number, but sometimes they know it by the name of a large building. 

People living in the city know where certain building numbers are located. For example, someone might say that they live in the 2600s. 

Around 2003, street names were chosen, but it took a while to finish them and put up the signs. There are no street numbers yet, and building names are still being used. 

Iqaluit is the only capital city in Canada that doesn't have traffic lights, though some have been put in place temporarily.

Taking care of waste and water

Growth and a lack of money to improve the city's facilities are putting a strain on it. The city's trash is dumped in the open air on Akilliq Drive (West 40), which is south of the city.

Even though the city has tools to clean water, sewage from the city is often dumped into Frobisher Bay without being cleaned first.

The city plans to open a second dump 9 km (5.6 mi) north of the city because the first one is full. Additionally, Iqaluit does not have a recycling program, so all reusable items are thrown into the trash.

When people in Iqaluit found fuel in their tap water in October 2021, they had a water safety problem. A decades-old fuel tank beneath the city's water supply had leaked into the city's water supply. 

Residents had to drink, cook with, and do other daily tasks with bottled water and water from nearby rivers because of the disaster. The situation showed how hard it is to give remote and Arctic towns safe and reliable water services.


Bell Canada set up landline services in Iqaluit in 1958. Since 1992, Northwestel has offered landline services across northern Canada (by Northwestel in five communities in western Nunavut and Bell Canada in other parts of Nunavut).

Ice Wireless, Bell Mobility, and Qiniq all offer cell phone service.

Northwestel, Ice Wireless, Qiniq, Xplornet, and Meshnet all offer internet service. Meshnet Community WiFi is a paid and free service found in most parts of the city. You can watch and use many other tools for free.


FAQs about Iqaluit, Nunavut

Q1. What does "Iqaluit" mean, and how is it pronounced?

"Iqaluit" is an Inuktitut word meaning "place of many fish." In Inuktitut, it's pronounced [], while in French, it's pronounced [].

Q2. What is the population of Iqaluit, Nunavut?

According to the 2021 Canadian census, Iqaluit had a population of 7,429, with a population centre of 6,991.

Q3. What is the climate like in Iqaluit?

Iqaluit has a tundra climate (Köppen: ET), characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The average yearly temperature is below freezing for eight months, and it receives over 400 mm (16 in) of rain annually.

Q4. How do people travel to and from Iqaluit?

Iqaluit is accessible primarily by air and, during certain times, by sea. The Iqaluit Airport is the main gateway, with flights from Ottawa, Yellowknife, and other Nunavut towns. Ships bring bulk goods during the summer, and plans for a deep seaport are underway.

Q5. What educational institutions are there in Iqaluit?

Iqaluit is home to several schools, including Nanook Elementary School, Nakasuk School, Joamie Ilinniarvik School, Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik School, and Inuksuk High School. Additionally, there's École des Trois-Soleils for French-speaking students and Nunavut Arctic College for post-secondary education.

Q6. What recreational activities are available in Iqaluit?

Iqaluit offers various sports and leisure facilities, including a curling rink, aquaplex, arenas, disc golf course, fitness centres, golf course, outdoor courts, skatepark, and more. Residents can enjoy festivals like Toonik Tyme and the Alianait Music and Arts Festival.

Q7. How is waste management handled in Iqaluit?

Currently, waste is disposed of in open-air dumps, and a new landfill is planned north of the city. Iqaluit faces challenges in waste management and lacks a recycling program.

Q8. What communication services are available in Iqaluit?

Residents have access to landline services provided by Northwestel and Bell Canada and cell phone services from Ice Wireless, Bell Mobility, and Qiniq. Various providers like Northwestel, Ice Wireless, Qiniq, Xplornet, and Meshnet offer Internet services.

Q9. What languages are spoken in Iqaluit?

English and Inuktitut are widely spoken in Iqaluit, with approximately 97.2% of the population knowing English and 53.1% able to speak Inuktitut. A small percentage also speaks French of the population.

Q10. What are some notable landmarks and attractions in Iqaluit?

Some notable landmarks include the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Building, Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, Sylvia Grinnell Park, Qaummaarviit Territorial Park, and the Igloo Cathedral. These sites offer insight into the region's culture, history, and natural beauty.


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