Cambridge BAY

Discover our community

Cambridge BAY

Ikaluktutiak – “place of good fishing”

Population: 1,766

Cambridge Bay is the largest of the Kitikmeot communities and serves as the government hub for the Region.

It was the fishing and hunting that convinced the Inuit to settle in this location at the southern end of Victoria Island. Archeological studies indicate that the area has been occupied for approximately 4,000 years, including the Pre-Dorset, Thule and Copper Inuit eras.

Arctic Char are abundant and huge in the nearby Ekaluk River. Commercial fishing takes place in Cambridge Bay. The catches supply Kitikmeot Foods, a subsidiary of Nunavut Development Corporation, which process the char for distribution to other parts of Canada and USA.

With a rich community history, the Kitikmeot Heritage Society offers many programs, often involving the local elders. A recent project highlighted more than 12,000 places of interest identified with Inuit names and is displayed at the May Hakongak Library. The cultural Centre also features a museum and archives. As a means to cover costs for their programs the non-profit Kitikmeot Heritage Society has launched a business arm in Kaapittiaq, the first Inuit owned coffee enterprise. The beans are sourced from Peru.

A student welding course fabricated a large colourful muskox, a pair of wolves, a raven and fish, which are displayed in the newly created Heritage park. Other smaller items such as birds and fish are available for sale at the Hamlet office. An arts studio is in the process of being constructed to encourage and house the works of many local carvers, artists and crafters.

Two protected sites near Cambridge Bay are the Ovayok Territorial Park, 16 kilometers to the east, and the Queen Maud Bird Sanctuary, 75 kilometers to the south on the mainland. Ovayok Territorial Park covers 16 square km and has 5 signed hiking trails. The most prominent aspect of the park is Mount Pelly, rising 200 meters. The park is also popular for fishing and bird watching. Bird watchers come every year from around the world.

The Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary is nearly 63,000 square km. Becoming a protected area in 1961, it is a sanctuary for a broad range of migratory birds, including plovers, ducks, geese, loons, sandpipers, gulls, Arctic terns, Jaegers, sparrows, hawks, falcons, swans and snowy owls. A permit is required to access the sanctuary.

Cambridge Bay is home to the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS). Traditional knowledge meets modern science in this state-of-the-Art world class research facility. Beginning operations in 2018, it has hosted researchers, scientists and students form all over the world. Climate change and its affect on ice, snow, and permafrost and how that affects animals, shipping and community infrastructure is a popular research project. Other projects include investigations into renewable energy options and mapping the DNA of Arctic plants and animals to help track their existence.

For more information on these and other services in Cambridge Bay, contact the Hamlet office at 867-983-4650 or visit