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Arctic Bay is called Ikpiarjuk "the pocket" because of the high hills that surround the almost landlocked bay from which the community gets its name. Arctic Bay is located on Borden Peninsula, an uneven, undulating plateau dissected by numerous river valleys. In the northern part of the peninsula, where the community is located, mountains reach as high as 1,300 metres. Flat-topped King George V Mountain dominates the view to the southeast from the community. As you look southward from the community toward Adams Sound, Uluksan Point is on your right, while Holy Cross Point is at the end of the long peninsula to your left. It is connected by a 21-kilometre road to Nanisivik, a mining town developed in the mid-1970s.
As with most other Baffin Island communities, the present town developed as a result of government housing initiatives in the 1960s. A Hudson's Bay Co. post was established here in 1926 but closed the following year. The post was re-established in 1936, when Inuit originally from Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset were relocated here from the unsuccessful Hudson's Bay post at Dundas Harbour. The Anglican Church built a mission at Moffet Inlet, south of Arctic Bay, in 1937. It closed 10 years later, after the accidental shooting and subsequent death of Canon John Turner. A Roman Catholic mission operated in Arctic Bay for a short time in the 1930s. The old Taqqut Co-op building, in the centre of town, originally came from Blacklead Island with the Hudson's Bay Co. in the 1920s.
Land wildlife around Arctic Bay is minimal. In the last few years, caribou have come close to the community, but sightings are more common farther south near Admiralty Inlet. Polar bears also frequent the area. Narwhals frequent the waters and occasionally come into Arctic Bay itself. Narwhals are hunted for their ivory tusk and maktaaq. Walrus are often seen in western Admiralty Inlet.
Arctic Bay is noted for miniature ivory carvings, traditional clothing and other arts and crafts. Stone used here is grey argillite, similar to that used in Sanikiluaq far to the south, but with brownish blotches and streaks.
The population as of 2003 is roughly 646 (92% Inuit, 8% non-Inuit)

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Last Updated: June 24 2005
Pictures Copyright 2003-2005 Vincent K. Chan
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