About Iqaluit & Nunavut

In 1576 British explorer Sir Martin Frobisher landed on southern Baffin Island in search of the Northwest Passage. He established a settlement at a spot that was long regarded as a campsite and fishing spot by the Inuit. It’s traditional name was Iqaluit - "many fish" in Inuktitut - but Canadian and American authorities named it Frobisher Bay, after the explorer.

In 1942 the United States built an airbase in Iqaluit to support the war effort. The airport served as a transit and refueling spot between North America and Europe and continues to play that role for civilian aircraft today.

In 1949, the Hudson Bay Company moved its south Baffin operations to the neighboring valley of Niaqunngut (officially called Apex) so it could be close to the airfield. In the following years, the local population grew rapidly during the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radar stations.

Hundreds of construction workers, military personnel and administrative staff moved to the area along with several hundred Inuit who wanted to take advantage of the medical care and jobs that the base provided. In the 1960’s, the Canadian government established permanent services in Frobisher Bay, medical facilities, schools and social services this, in turn, encouraged even more rapid growth of the local Inuit population .

While the U.S. military left the area in 1963, Frobisher Bay continued to grow as the government's administrative and service centre for much of the Eastern Arctic.

Frobisher Bay Officially Named Iqaluit

On January 1, 1987, the name of the town was officially changed from "Frobisher Bay" to "Iqaluit" – which matched official usage with the name that the Inuit population had always used. In December 1995, a referendum was held to select Iqaluit as the Capital of Nunavut and on April 19, 2001 it was officially recognized as a city.

Furthermore, the North West Territories was split into two and the Territory of Nunavut was established on April 1, 1999. This established Iqaluit as the capital city of the Eastern Arctic and the gateway to the now booming natural resource industry of the region.

Iqaluit is the transportation hub of the Eastern Arctic and is accessible by only aircraft and, subject to ice conditions, by boat (there are no roads that enter into the Nunavut territory). The Iqaluit Airport is a fully modern facility whose original World War II-era runway serves the needs of most classes of modern aircraft.

In addition to airline services, ships – in the middle of the summer - transport bulk and heavy goods to the city. As Iqaluit does not have a deep water harbour, goods are sent by barge ashore, or a ship may be beached at high tide with goods being unloaded when the tide goes out.

Iqaluit has a local road system serving nearby Apex and the Sylvia Grenell Territorial Park Reserve (including the famous “Road To Nowhere”). Many people in Iqaluit own their own vehicles, use taxi-cabs and share the road with snowmobiles and ATV's. 

Snowmobiles and sometimes dog sleds are used to travel to the surrounding areas. In winter, the nearby Qaummaarviit Territorial Historic Park and the more remote Katannilik Territorial Park are only accessible by these means.

The Frobisher Inn is an ideal location to start your adventure exploring the wonders of Iqaluit and Nunavut.

Learn more about Iqaluit, Nunavut and Inuit art and culture by exploring other northern web-sites including Nunavut Tourism and the Nunavut Portal.

Natural Arctic Wonders - Aurora Borealis

For those who seek out the natural wonders of the north, your adventure starts at our doorstep. Year round activities are available - from fishing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and snowmobiling to sightseeing flights over Nunavut's spectacular glaciers and Territorial and National Parks. Wildlife viewing and the chance to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis in all its arctic glory may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

How to Get to Iqaluit

You'll never experience anything like it!

With a culture born from the harsh realities of surviving on the land and thriving for thousands of years, the people of Canada's arctic share a warmth and friendliness with every visitor. Iqaluit boasts a strong community of Inuit hunters, crafts people, artists and guides and is now emerging as a government and business centre serving the entire North.

You can share that culture through informal visits to historical and cultural venues, or through guided trips and cultural events. A simple stroll around town often reveals artists and carvers creating their masterpieces on their front porch. Caribou can be seen grazing on the fringes of town. The hardiest of adventurers can arrange for guided dog sledding trips, overnight stays in igloos or a multitude of other activities.

Airlines & Flight Routes to Iqaluit, Nunavut

Daily scheduled airline flights serve Iqaluit, the capital of the Nunavut Territory from both the South and the West. These flights connect to all major Canadian cities and Greenland. Two of Canada's major airlines, Canadian North, and First Air operate scheduled service on the following routes:

Ottawa- Iqaluit (Canadian North and First Air, connecting to Toronto and major United States and European destinations)

Montreal- Iqaluit (First Air, connecting to Toronto)

Edmonton-Yellowknife-Rankin Inlet-Iqaluit (Canadian North, First Air, connecting to Calgary, Vancouver and major Asia and United States destinations)

Iqaluit is also the gateway to Baffin Island and the rest of Canada’s Eastern Arctic with airline connections to many communities

Click here for more information on Iqaluit’s airport.

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