Arctic Bay is located in the northwest corner of Baffin Island and is one of the most beautiful places in Nunavut. At 73°N latitude, it is well above the Arctic Circle and ranks among the top ten most northerly communities in the entire world. Nestled snugly amidst stunning mountains, it is a traditional hamlet with a population of approximately 800 people. The Inuktitut name for Arctic Bay is Ikpiarjuk which means "the pocket" in English.
The dramatic terrain around Arctic Bay is comprised of scenic geological formations, with hoodoos, flat-topped pillars of stone and sheer red rock cliffs as high as 180 metres (600 feet). Repeated ice age glacial erosion created deep valleys and beautiful fiords, including nearby Admiralty Inlet, which is the longest fiord in the world.
Arctic Bay enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 6 to August 6. Summer temperatures range from 0°C to 15°C. Protected from strong north winds, Arctic Bay enjoys a surprisingly stable climate. Fall and spring weather is variable, with temperatures between 0°C and -30°C. The snow begins to melt in May, but the sea ice doesn't break up until the end of July. Winter temperatures hover around -35°C yet can sometimes drop to -50°C on very rare occasions.
Archeological evidence and oral history shows that Inuit have inhabited the area dating back nearly 5,000 years. Excellent hunting has long drawn nomadic groups of Inuit to the region. The community as it stands today was established with the opening of a Hudson’s Bay Company post in 1927. With the launch of hostilities in World War II, the military had a requirement for more information from the high arctic, and a weather station was opened in 1941. The first school was built in 1959 and this brought the slow movement of Inuit off the land and into the community on a permanent basis. Last Inuit family moved off the land into the community in 1971.
Arctic Bay’s interaction with the outside world exploded in 1976 when the Nanisivik Lead-Zinc mine was opened. The mine operated until 2002 and it provided Arctic Bay with excellent air and marine links to the outside world. Until the opening of the Meadowbank Mine north of Baker Lake, the Nanisivik road was the longest in Nunavut at 34 kilometers.
Nanisivik wharf will become a hub for the Canadian Navy as it builds a refueling facility. Arctic Bay continues to have a traditional economy with arts and craft, hunting, fishing and tourism providing income.