February 7, 2017
A quick summary of the destinations we will visit on both our westbound and return eastbound leg of the Northwest Passage up above the Arctic Circle. From an island 2,000 belugas congregate to each summer, to a bay filled with glaciers and seals, you don't want to miss this. Keep an eye out for future blogs that will focus on specific spots in greater detail.
POND INLET, Baffin Island
Population 1,300. Surrounded by mountain ranges and several dozen glaciers. We’ll be greeted with a traditional Inuit tea & bannock welcome and an Inuit cultural show with story telling and strength and agility demonstrations at the Natinnak Visitor Center. Traditional Inuit carvings, crafts and jewelry can also be purchased here. We’ll meet with Pond students at their school and Pond students will visit OHP.
LOW POINT, Eclipse Sound, Baffin Island
Inuit “Inuksuk” stone icons, bird sanctuary, glaciers, and narwhals birthing in the shallows.
DUNDAS HARBOUR, Devon Island
Abundant wildlife can be found here in the rich, biodiverse waters of Lancaster Sound that is sometimes called the wildlife “super highway” of the Arctic. Walrus haul-out, narwhals, seals, Arctic hare, and Muskox. Abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost (originally established to stop whaling in the Northwest Passage), Thule and Dorset Inuit structures.
Steep glacier, seals, Muskox, and Arctic wolves.
PRINCE LEOPOLD ISLAND (North Spit)
Migratory seabird sanctuary. As many as 500,000 birds can be found around the 1,000 foot limestone cliffs of Prince Leopold Island.
RADSTOCK BAY, Devon Island
Good beach walking. Polar bears, beluga whales, and chance of seeing Muskox. Thule and Dorset Inuit structures that are 2-5,000 years old. Steep cliffs called Caswell Tower.
Location of Sir John Franklin’s last comfortable winter in 1845 before disappearing. Remains of ship HMS Braedalbane, three Franklin crew graves,
building remains, and the Belcher monument.
RESOLUTE BAY, Cornwallis Island
This town is the midpoint of the Northwest Passage. With a population of about 300 it is the second most northerly community in Canada.
From late April to mid-August it enjoys 24-hours of daylight. Its airstrip provides the gateway for North Pole expeditions.
CUNNINGHAM INLET, Somerset Island
Up to 2,000 Beluga whales congregate here to moult each year. We’ll also see polar bears (from boat only)
FORT ROSS, Bellot Strait, Somerset Island
The remnants of a Hudson Bay Company fur trading building and Inuit remains. Abundant food in Bellot Strait attracts numerous marine mammals such as narwhals, bearded seals, harp seals and polar bears.
CONINGHAM BAY, Prince Edward Island
A known hotspot for polar bears which feast on beached Beluga whales, caught in the rocky shallows at low tide. (from boat only)
GJOA HAVEN, King William Island
Inuit community village elder Louie Kamaakak (whose great grandfather had contact with Franklin’s men) will describe Inuit oral history tradition and the Inuit perspective on a changing Arctic. We’ll learn about the histories of Amundsen, Ross, and Franklin at Gjoa Haven. (pronounced “Joe Haven”)
TODD ISLAND, King William Island
CAMBRIDGE BAY, Victoria Island
Population 1,600. The Community Center hosts the annual Nunavut Arts Festival where sculpture, prints, and art by local artists are for sale. At the local high school crafts and local delicacies - narwhal muktuk (skin and fat), Muskox sliders, and Arctic char jerky, are for sale. The Visitor Center has a small museum that includes a ten-foot tall polar bear. The town is also home to the new Polar Knowledge facility that supports Arctic scientists. Across the bay is the wreck of Roald Amundsen’s ship Maud, secured to a barge and scheduled for its journey back to Norway in summer of 2017.