This is our Igloolik guide for visitors, part of our series of crowd-sourced Nunavutcommunity travel guides. If you would like to write a guide for your community, please send us an email! This guide was written by Denis Thibeault.
Although Igloolik is a small (100 square kilometre) island with not many (2,000) inhabitants, it is a lively, active, and involved community with many great options for visitors. It is the geographic centre of the territory, and is known as the cultural hub of Nunavut. In fact, in 1970, the community refused free English television services in order to ensure that local language and culture would not be affected by southern broadcasts. Now Igloolik boasts its own production company, Isuma, and has local television hardwired into homes playing locally produced material. A stronghold of Inuit culture, Igloolik has so much to share with the world.
Where to Eat
The Co-op Restaurant is Igloolik’s primary eatery. The food is standard fare, and the menu can be found on the TV, channel 6. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9am-11am for breakfast, 12pm-2pm for lunch, and 5pm-7pm for dinner. You can expect to pay around $20-$30 for a meal. The poutine ordered with a chicken salad wrap is recommended locally. It’s also a great place to check out local carvings for sale on display by the restaurant entrance. It is located in the same building as the Co-op Inns North accommodations; turn right from the door.
Top of the World Pizza
If you haven’t heard of Top of the World Pizza in Igloolik’s Tujurmivik Hotel, you’ve still got a lot to learn about the north. Famous from Yellowknife to Ottawa, it’s not uncommon for a Specialty or Arctic Char pizza to travel over land and sea for long distance orders. And with good reason – the pizza is great. You can order for delivery or eat in the Tujurmivik dining room, with prices starting at $30 a pie. They also serve lunch and supper options for hotel guests and specialize in local country food. It’s best to call before ordering, but if the kitchen is closed they just might fire up the ovens for you with enough notice. Know that the famous Arctic Char pizza is specially made on Fridays only. Call 867-934-8810 to order Nunavut’s most sought-after 'zas.
Co-op Coffee Shop
If you just want a snack and a warm drink, head over to the Co-op Coffee Shop. This is the best place to get a coffee for a few bucks and practice your Inuktitut with some Igloolingmiut. It is located in the Co-op grocery store; turn right from the entrance.
Where to Sleep
Igloolik Hotel (Inns North)
The Igloolik Hotel, owned and operated by the Igloolik Co-op, is the largest accommodation option in the community, with 15 rooms that include either single or double beds. Each room has a mini fridge and a full bathroom and shower for $249 per person per night. An added bonus is access to the Inns North Airport Shuttle (contact the Inn for details). The Igloolik Hotel is located in the same building as the Co-op Restaurant; turn left at the doorway, or check in at the restaurant. Call 867-934-8627 to make your reservation.
The Tujurmivik Hotel has been home to visitors for 45 years. Owner and local rock star, Elijah Evaluarjuk and his family welcome guests like old friends. Home of Top of the World Pizza, Tujurmivik Hotel offers guests a self-serve continental breakfast and home cooked meals with country food for a reasonable rate. Also, it’s rumored that Tujurmivik makes the best Nanaimo bars in the circumpolar north. Beds start at $230 per person per night with shared bathrooms. Call 867-934-8814 to make your reservation.
LRT Lodging and B&B
LRT Lodging and B&B is operated by LRT Construction, which is owned by Lee and Richard Turbide. Two accommodation options exist with LRT. The bed and breakfast costs $250 per person per night, which includes a private room, self-serve breakfast, and access to the home’s amazing facilities (including a pool table, movie projector, popcorn machine, satellite TV, wifi, full kitchen, and laundry). LRT also offers lodging by way of a four-bedroom house. The lodging costs $200 per person per night, which includes access to a fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities and cable TV. The entire house is available for $800 per night. Both locations have shared bathrooms and common areas. Lee and Richard also own a cabin on the land and ATVs, which they try to make accessible for guests. In doing so, LRT has created welcoming lodging options that feel more like visiting family down south. Call 867-934-8767 to make a reservation.
The Hamlet of Igloolik has built a traditional style Qarmaq for programs. Anyone is welcome to use it respectfully at no cost. It is stocked with stoves, lamps, mats, caribou pelts, and a sleeping platform. But do bring your own fuel, stoves, and sleeping gear just in case. The Qarmaq is located behind the new Community Hall: hike out onto the land away from town veering slightly to the right until you reach a large mound about a kilometre away. If you cannot see town after walking 20-30 minutes, you have gone too far or are way off target, so follow your tracks back. Be prepared for a night on the land. Please respect this space and use it at your own responsibility.
What to Do
Check out the Government of Nunavut Department of Environment office
Also known as the Igloolik Research Centre or simply “The Mushroom,” this building houses Nunavut’s Polar Bear Expert and other knowledgeable biologists. If you happen to run into them, they just might tell you all about the great things that the GN Department of Environment is up to.
Check out the new Community Hall
There are all sorts of events held at the hall, including ceremonies, feasts, dances, board game tournaments, and concerts. If you’re lucky, you might catch a traditional hukki (square dance). Just keep your ears open and you’ll hear about what’s happening while you’re in town.
Watch a local hockey game
Like many Nunavut communities, the Igloolik Hockey Arena is where the excitement happens almost everyday.
Check out the murals.
Igloolik has some fantastic artwork throughout town. Be sure to have a look at the new Community Hall (inside and outside), old Community Hall (inside), Radio Station, and Kinguliit (formerly Isuma). On your walk, don’t be afraid to poke your head into the buildings – you never know who you might meet or what might happen. Kinguliit is home to many Igloolik productions including the renowned film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. They operate an amazing production company out of one of the oldest cabins in the community. Visit the radio station and introduce yourself; maybe you can help out as a guest DJ for one of the many popular radio shows.
Learn about the Oral History Project
Upon the recommendation of Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior Research Officer with the Nunavut Research Institute, this is a must. Simply go into “the GN building” and ask nicely to check out the Oral History Project. It includes 326 audio recordings and 321 transcriptions (in English and Inuktitut) of interviews with Elders between 1986 and 1997.
Out of Town
Talk your way into a dogsled ride with the 3-time Nunavut Quest champion, Andy Attagutalukutuk. Though there are no commercial dogsled operators, Andy runs his dogs everyday training for the quest and is a great to talk to about traditional dogsledding and racing. Just ask around and you’ll find him easily.
Walk to the Qarmaq
If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping out on the land, you can still visit the Qarmaq during the daytime. There might even be an Elder hanging out making bannock over the qulliq or brewing tea on the stove.
Hike up Cemetery Hill
Walk out of town up the gentle slope until you can get a great view of the whole town. Maybe link this with a visit to the Qamarq for a cup of tea and warm-up stop.
Check out the Dump
This is actually a cool thing to do, as the Igloolik dump is rather unique. It’s recommended you go by vehicle or snowmobile in case there are polar bears around.
How to get around
Take a taxi
Taxi fares are flat-rate, depending on where you’re going. Rides around town are $6. Rides from the airport to town (and vice versa) are $10. Call Kanayuk Taxi at 867-934-4042. Make sure you're ready when you call them – they can be quick!
Use your feet
Many Igloolingmiut walk everywhere. It’s an easy community to navigate and there are enough people walking around to give you directions if you think you’re lost. Chances are you’re right beside what you are looking for.
Rent a truck
You can rent a truck for $200 per day from LRT Construction. Nothin’ like riding in style if you’ve got things to move around town or just want to stay warm. A bonus is that the rental includes a free airport pick-up. Larger construction vehicle are also available for rent. Call LRT Construction at 867-934-8767.