Iqaliut, Nunavut, Canada

Iqaliut is the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, located on Baffin Island, Canada’s largest, off the northern Quebec Coast. It is the smallest capital in Canada, with fewer than 8,000 residents, and the only one unreachable by highway. The town was formerly known as Frobisher Bay, after the English explorer Martin Frobisher who surveyed the large bay in 1576 hoping to find a Northwest Passage to China. The Inuit people had occupied the site for centuries before that, and there is some evidence suggesting a Viking, or an even earlier European presence possibly before 1,000 A.D. In 1942, the United States Air Force built a large airbase at Frobisher Bay to facilitate fueling transatlantic flights. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post nearby to take advantage of the airport. It was later an important post on the so-called DEWline (Distant Early Warning) missile defense monitoring stations. The town has a polar climate, even though it is south of the Arctic Circle, due to the cold Labrador Current offshore. In the town, points of interest include the St. Jude’s Anglican Church, built in the shape of a traditional Inuit igloo, with an altar shaped like an Inuit sled and a cross formed from narwhal tusks. The Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum has a large collection of Inuit art and artifacts housed in a repurposed Hudson’s Bay Company building. Near Peterhead Inlet, the Quammaarvit Territorial Historic Park preserves evidence of very early Inuit settlements, including the remains of 11 semi-buried sod houses.