12 Things that Set Canadian Arctic City Iqaluit Apart (Part 2 of 3)

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my  article  about the top 12 things that I believe set Iqaluit apart from other provincial and territ...

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my article about the top 12 things that I believe set Iqaluit apart from other provincial and territorial capitals in Canada. Scroll down to read the second part and make sure you book your own trip to Nunavut to experience everything firsthand. I know for a fact that I will return one day to explore more of what this fascinating Canadian territory has to offer.

6. Impressive Artwork.  
Iqaluit is pretty much littered with art. In a good way, of course. 
Stone-carved sculptures produced by the Inuit people have become world famous, but there is plenty of other art in the city including wall murals and striking architecture. 
A mural next to a city dump.
What looks like an ice block is Nakasuk Elementary School, a two-story building made of fiberglass. Not exactly sure why there are no windows, but I guess it helps save on heating bills during a wintertime. 
St. Jude Cathedral is built in the shape of an igloo, a traditional snow house in Nunavut. Many people refer to it as the "Igloo Cathedral".
One of the official symbols of Canada, Inuksuk, is also from Nunavut. There is hardly a person in the entire country who is not familiar with Inuksuk. A man-made stone cairn still very much serves its original purpose: to help with navigation in difficult terrains and poor weather conditions.
A stunning outdoor exhibit with stone sculptures sits next to Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. Conveniently, a couple of studios nearby offer rich selection of art ranging from a few dozen bucks to tens of thousands.
As part of the correction program in Nunavut, the territorial government encourages inmates to take on a new skill: to carve a stone. Apparently, the program is a big success: not only do inmates "kill their time" in jail, they can also unleash their artistic potential and make some cash while serving their term. Win-win. The jail art market is open every Friday afternoon. People say this is the most cost-effective way to buy Inuit art.
If you're up to making your own Inuit art, there is a way, too. Oh no, of course not through a jail.
One of the territorial parks in Iqaluit hosts various workshops throughout the year including the one that teaches soapstone carving.
We happened to have attended one in early July this year. A guest artist walked attendees through a carving process, and provided with rough bars and all necessary tools to complete the work. We really enjoyed this activity as a family, and the best part is that you get to take your own carving home.

7. Wilderness Right in the City.
You don't have to go far to find yourself immersed in the vast arctic tundra: wilderness starts right in the city.
Mighty ocean, rushing rivers, unspoiled lands, pristine lakes, tough mountains are only a short drive or walk from the city centre.
For nature lovers, there are a few must-go places in Iqaluit. The most accessible one is Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, my favourite.
The park offers stunning views over Frobisher Bay and Sylvia Grinnell River.
Come close and enjoy the waterfalls.
The number two outdoor option in town is the Apex Trail. It starts at the old cemetery and takes you to the historic buildings of the Hudson's Bay Company in Apex, the only suburb in Iqaluit.
The history of the Hudson's Bay Company is truly amazing. I'm not going to go into much details, but just think about this for a second: the company was incorporated in 1670! - it's almost 200 years before Canada appeared on the political map. The Hudson's Bay Company's buildings are easily recognizable because they are painted in white and red. With the main objective to trade fur, these buildings could be found in pretty much every town, hamlet and settlement in the Canadian Arctic. 
The Apex Trail is a moderate hike, about 5 km / 3 miles roundtrip. If you get lucky, you might even see some marine life from the trail. I guess we didn't get so lucky as seagulls don't count as marine life.
Apex as seen from the plane.
Another place you should visit while in Iqaluit is Nowhere. The Road to Nowhere follows the Apex River for the most part, and the view of a river valley from atop the hill is pretty stunning.
A blue river looked really attractive against a backdrop of red granite rocks and green tundra.
To make hiking even more fun, you can cross or rather walk along the river using stepping stones. The river is pretty shallow, so no harm if you get your feet accidentally soaked in.

8. Midnight Sun.
Many of us don't realize this, but as we travel closer to the equator line, days and nights become about the same length all year long. However, as we get towards the poles, the difference between days and nights may be substantial to the point that it's never dark in the summer or it's always dark in the winter.
Since Iqaluit is slightly below the Arctic Circle, the sun does briefly set below the horizon in the summer, but everything is still very much illuminated. For instance, I was able to read a book at 11 pm. 
Similarly, in late December in Iqaluit, the sun briefly rises at around 9:30 am and sets around 1 pm. Nunavut communities located above the Arctic Circle will see 24 hours of darkness during that same time of the year.
Some people, especially non-natives, have hard time adjusting to this phenomena. Midnight summer is worse than winter darkness as you pretty much have to force yourself to go to bed while it's still bright outside. Use of dark curtains becomes a necessity.
Vitamin D, normally produced by your skin exposed to the sun, should be supplemented to help you stay in good health during a period of darkness.

9. All About Fishing, Hunting and Trapping.  
Fishing, hunting and trapping have been essential for the Inuit people for millennia.
With introduction of modern technologies, the traditional way of living in Nunavut has been forever altered. However the Inuit people still very much enjoy and often depend on fishing, hunting and trapping to get much needed protein and fat as well as make clothing.
Unlike non-native people, the Inuit can fish, hunt and trap virtually any animal, however there is a quota and mandatory catch reporting for some species such as beluga whales or narwhals.
Arctic char is abundant in Iqaluit waters. It tastes like salmon, but has a bit more reddish colour.
The best place to catch arctic char is at Bay of Two Rivers, about 50 km / 30 miles southwest of Iqaluit by boat.
Speaking about food. Muskox burgers also taste good, but mostly because the meat is exotic.
Traditionally, the Inuit people consume everything from a killed animal. Whatever cannot be eaten will be used as tools, weapons, construction materials, or clothing.
Even a fish bladder will last for no more than 10 minutes in the water once taken out from fish: both shrimps and seagulls love it.
Polar bears call Nunavut home and can show up pretty much anywhere and anytime. With the climate change and shrinking ice as a result, polar bears that live close to Iqaluit may unfortunately resort to a city dump. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, there is mandatory curfew and everyone must remain indoors.
In case you're wondering if there is even a remote possibility to be eaten by a polar bear while in Iqaluit, I can assure you it's almost zero. There is so much air traffic around Iqaluit and so many hunters nearby, a polar bear will definitely be spotted and everyone will be notified through an emergency radio system. But outside the city, one must always carry a gun for self-defense.

12 Things that Set Canadian Arctic City Iqaluit Apart (Part 3)

You Might Also Like

0 comments