Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay / Iqaluktuuttiaq - 'good fishing place'

Cambridge Bay / Iqaluktuuttiaq - ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑦᑎᐊᖅ - 'Good fishing place'

The community of Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island at the western end of Queen Maud Gulf where it narrows into Dease Strait. In Inuinnaqtun it is called 'Iqaluktuuttiaq' because it is a 'good fishing place.' Cambridge Bay is the centre of government for Kitikmeot, the administrative and transportation hub for this region of Nunavut. It is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. The hamlet is located close to the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. The Ekalluktogmiut people come from there. The short section of the river that flows from Ferguson Lake to Wellington Bay is called 'Iqaluktuuq' in Inuinnaqtun, meaning 'place of big fish.' Its people are the Iqaluktuurmiut. This ancestral region of Nunavut has been inhabited for 4,000 years. It is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen and caribou.

Community Snapshot

Ethnic distribution
83% Inuit
Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English

Longitude 105° 07’ W
Latitude 69° 06’ N
Elevation 31m


The hamlet of Cambridge Bay is situated on an extensive rolling plateau that gently rises from steep coastal cliffs. The terrain is dotted with innumerable lakes and ponds.


Cambridge Bay enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 20 to July 23. The sparse rainfall usually occurs in July and August when temperatures range from 5°C to 25°C. Snowfall is greatest in October and November. December has no daylight, only starlight, moonlight and the Northern Lights. Winter temperatures average between -25°C and -35°C, but can sometimes feel like -60°C with the wind chill.


cambridge-bay-victoria-islandArchaeological sites found all over this enormous island prove that indigenous peoples have been living in this part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago continuously for the last four thousand years.

  • 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 Inuit people of Cambridge Bay, from the eastern and southern parts of Victoria Island, speak Inuinnaqtun — a different language from Inuktitut — because they are Copper Inuit people, descendants of the ancient Thule with their own distinct and unique traditions. There are 21 subgroups of Copper Inuit and seven come from here.

  • Ekalluktogmiut — from the Ekalluk River
  • Haneragmiut — from Dolphin and Union Strait
  • Iqaluktuurmiut — from Iqaluktuuq on the Ekalluk River
  • Kangiryuarmiut — from central Victoria Island
  • Kilusiktogmiut — from northeast of Lady Franklin Point
  • Nagyuktogmiut — from Lady Franklin Point
  • Puiplirmiut — from Simpson Bay

The Copper Inuit were so named because they made arrowheads, spearheads, ulu blades, chisels, harpoons and knives from copper that was traded amongst Inuit in exchange for soapstone pots and other valuables. They were hunter-gatherer nomads who came to the Cambridge Bay area because of its abundant wildlife resources.

The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen visited the Cambridge Bay area in his ship the Gjøa in 1905 when he discovered the Northwest Passage. He arrived in Alaska in 1906. In 1918 he traversed the same route back from west to east in his new ship called the Maud. The Hudson Bay Company purchased this vessel as a fur trading supply ship, arriving in Cambridge Bay in 1921. The Maud was used for years before it sank into the harbour. Its exposed hull has been a Cambridge Bay landmark for 80 years. Norway is retrieving it now.

In 1947 a long-range navigational LORAN tower was constructed in Cambridge Bay. The construction project involved hiring many Inuit workers who later remained in the area. In 1954 a Catholic church was built using seal oil and sand as mortar. A Distant Early Warning military base was constructed here that same year. The DEW site revised its mission in 1989. It remains operative today as part of the joint United States and Canadian North Warning System.

Activities & Wildlife

Outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobile riding are all very popular things to do in Cambridge Bay. Fly-fishing for great big arctic char in nearby Ekalluk River and camping in historic Ovayok Territorial Park are rewarding summertime activities for the whole family. Visiting the ancient archaeological sites of the Pre-Dorset, Dorset and Thule people, seeing how they lived and the panoramas they chose as home is truly awe-inspiring. Wildlife abounds in this area. You will see caribou, muskoxen and seals. In July and August when the tundra is brilliant with wildflowers you can watch many birds, including jaegers, ducks, geese and swans. The community hosts the 'Omingmak Frolics' each May, which include seal hunting and ice carving competitions, fishing contests, talent shows, children's games, dog sledding and snowmobiling races. When staying here for an extended ecotourism adventure, or even just a brief visit from an arctic cruise ship traversing the Northwest Passage, be sure to tour the town, enjoy its hospitality and meet its fine artists.

Arts & Culture

Well-known local artists like Inuk Charlie have sold major pieces internationally. Beautiful Inuit artworks in marble, soapstone, serpentine, ivory, antler, bronze, brass, sterling silver and turquoise gemstone can be found at a variety of locations in Cambridge Bay.

Arctic Closet
Contact: Jorgan Aitaok
Ph: (867) 983-2555

Iqaluktuuttiaq Arts
Contact: Elisabeth Hadlari
Ph: (867) 983-2439

Kioleut Handy Crafts
Contact: Ruth N. Wilcox
Ph: (867) 983-2315

Ikaluktutiak Co-operative
Contact: Angela Butt
Ph: (867) 983-2201


Ovayok Territorial Park
This park is located 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Cambridge Bay. The central feature of this special place is the distinctive mountain called Ovayok (Mount Pelly) that stands out from the landscape, rising 200 metres (656 feet) in height. For generations, Ovayok has been an important landmark and source of legend for the Inuit people and their Thule ancestors. There are five trails, totalling 20 kilometres (12 miles) of pristine arctic wilderness to explore, with designated camping areas and informative signage at important historical sites. The parkland is home to magnificent herds of muskoxen and its lakes teem with fish and waterfowl.

Queen Maud Migratory Bird Sanctuary
This migratory bird sanctuary is Canada's largest federally protected nature preserve. It is home to one of the greatest concentrations of nesting geese on Earth. The landscape has countless shallow lakes and huge expanses of arctic lowland.

Visitor information

Arctic Coast Visitor Centre
Provides maps and tourism information.
Ph: (867) 983-2224
Fax: (867) 983-2302
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Offices of the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay
Ph: (867) 983-4650
Fax: (867) 983-2193


Arctic Islands Lodge, Inns North

Angela Butt

PO Box 38, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-2345 | 1-888-866-6784

(867) 983-2480

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Arctic Islands Lodge is located on the famous Northwest Passage, north of the Arctic Circle on Victoria Island. Luxurious accommodations offering:  clock/radio, telephone, complimentary wireless-internet, cable, on-site staff, VIP suite, dining room with take-out available.  There is an incredible variety of northern wildlife and flora to photograph. VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club/enRoute and Interac are welcome.

Arctic Kingdom Expeditions

Graham Dickson

PO Box 6117, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0

(867) 979-1900 | 1-888-737-6818

(416) 887-0529

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We are Nunavut Specialists! Arctic Kingdom is fiercely dedicated to creating authentic and awe-inspiring Arctic travel experiences. Through our Wildlife Safaris, Quick Getaways, Backcountry Trips and Expedition Cruises, we ensure your Arctic experience in the world’s most captivating place is second-to-none. For shorter visits, we now offer day trips in Iqaluit; stop by our new Tour Iqaluit Office in the Hotel Arctic lobby to book snowmobile, boat, hike, ATV, and Iqaluit town tours, or to create a private tour or customized Getaway package made just for you.

B&J Fly Fishing Adventures

Bill Lyall

PO Box 1329, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-2544

(867) 983-2203

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A semi Wilderness Camp catering to fly fishers, and catch and release. Accommodation is not very modern. You need to bring your own sleeping gear. Sleeping gear and clothing should be rated for temperatures around 5°C and down to 0°C. Ekaluk River has the best fishing in the world. Hike in the area of our traditional Inuit camp ground.  Our specialty has always been home style food. 

Enokhok Inn & Suites

Ed Romijn

1 Akhak Road, PO Box 103, Cambridge Bay, NU, X0B 0C0

Toll Free 1-866-452-5623 | 867-983-2562


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The Enokhok Inn & Suites has 7 rooms in the main building and 3 rooms in the second building; 8 have queen size beds and 2 have double beds; all rooms have cable TV and Wi-Fi access. The Inn has a shared kitchen and bathrooms as well as a washer and dryer. There is a large living room where you can take time to meet and share stories with other guests. We offer airport pickup.

Eyos Expeditions

69 W 106th St. #3B New York, Cambridge Bay, 10025


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Eyos expedtitions organizes, plans, and guides superyacht expedtions in the worlds most wild or culturally rich locations.

Go Cargo Taxi Ltd.

Corey Dimitruk

P.O. Box 2370, Cambridge Bay, X0B0C0

867-983-2001 | 867-983-5005


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Green Row Executive Suites

Daniel Caron

PO Box 1052, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-3456

(867) 983-3444

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Our 2 Bedroom suites are similar to a small apartment and offer you the same comforts as being in your own home. Each suite has a fully equipped kitchenette, living room with large screen satellite TV, washer & dryer, free Internet services, local calls, gym access as well as free shuttle service to and from the airport. All amenities are within walking distance. Truck rentals are available upon request.

Hakongak Outfitting

George Hakkongak

P.O. Box 2053, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-2799


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We offer Wildlife viewing,hunting,fishing and bird watching.

Nunavut Parks and Special Places

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



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Qaigguit Tours

Vicki Aitaok/Jorgan Aitaok

PO Box 1194, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-2555

(867) 983-2108

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Umingmak Lodge Bed & Breakfast

Sandy Morash

PO Box 2076, 28 Iharulik Street, Cambridge Bay, NU, X0B 0C0

(867) 983-2550

(867) 983-2277

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