Nunavut’s most easterly community, Qikiqtarjuaq is located off the east coast of Cumberland Peninsula on Baffin Island. Formerly known as Broughton Island, the community was renamed Qikiqtarjuaq in 1998. Qikiqtarjuaq is an Inuktitut word meaning, “big island.”
Qikiqtarjuaq received the name Broughton Island in 1818 by Royal Navy explorer John Ross. Ross opened up the west shore of Baffin Island to European whalers who had already been hunting the nearby Greenland area. Seasonal visits by whalers to the Qikiqtarjuaq area began in July 1824 and continued for a century.
Essential Qikiqtarjuaq experiences include:
- Visiting Auyuittuq National Park to hike the famed Akshayuk Pass, ski the Park’s pristine ice fields, or summit Auyuittuq’s peaks.
- Meeting at the Gathering House, a joint project between the Hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq and Parks Canada, for guided tours and conversations with elders and artists.
- Experiencing nature — by boat in the summer, by snowmobile in
- the winter.
Qikiqtarjuaq’s history includes traditionally used adjacent areas including Kivitoo and Paallavvik. The construction of FOX-5, a DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line auxiliary site, close to Qikiqtarjuaq in 1955 marked the beginning of continuous permanent residency of Inuit and non-Inuit in the current hamlet location.
Before the construction of the DEW Line site, Inuit continuously moved throughout the area to take advantage of local wildlife conditions. Traditionally, ringed, bearded, and harp seals were the most important species in the area and the main source of meat for Inuit. Qikiqtarjuaq boasts an abundance of wildlife including; migratory birds, polar bears, bowhead, orca, caribou, belugas, narwhal, and walrus.
The presence of whalers and traders allowed local Inuit to adopt foreign manufactured goods and technologies into their daily lives, such as guns and ammunition, animal traps, and sewing machines. Inuit readily adopted new forms of recreation such as musical instruments and tobacco. Despite annual contact with whalers, trading was primarily conducted at the trading store in Pangnirtung, 240 kilometres away over difficult mountain passes.
The Hudson’s Bay Company trading post was established in the Qikiqtarjuaq area in 1960. An Anglican church was built in the community in 1964. The nursing station was established in 1967. By 1973, the community had transitioned to a cash economy and a local community cooperative was formed.
By 1970, almost all of the area’s people were settled close to present-day Qikiqtarjuaq. As Inuit settled in the vicinity of FOX-5, the federal government began providing services to Inuit such as health care,
housing, and education. Many Inuit arrived in search of employment, leftover building materials, and surplus food. FOX-5 provided both steady and temporary employment for Inuit.
Qikiqtarjuaq is famously known as the iceberg capital of the world. Throughout the summer spectacular icebergs, calved from Greenlandic glaciers, float past the community as they travel down Davis Strait headed for southern waters.