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Arviat: Eat, Sleep, Do

Arviat: Eat, Sleep, Do

Arviat.png

This is our Arviat guide for visitors, part of our series of crowd-sourced Nunavut community travel guides. If you would like to write a guide for your community, please send us an email! This guide was written by Keith Collier. Arviat, Nunavut, has the distinction of being Nunavut’s most southerly mainland community (Sanikiluaq is the southernmost of all!). But don’t let that fool you – that doesn’t mean the winters are any warmer.

Located about halfway between Churchill, MB, and Rankin Inlet, NU, Arviat is right on the coast of Hudson Bay. Unlike much of Nunavut, known for its steep fjords and mountains, Arviat’s landscape is defined by the rugged flatness that stretches out in all directions. While at first glance it can seem featureless, Arviat’s rolling vistas allow you to take in the fantastic tundra scenery and abundant wildlife for miles in all directions.

SunsetLandscape

SunsetLandscape

It may also surprise you to find out that Arviat is, in fact, Nunavut’s second largest community (take that, Rankin Inlet). While it may be large population-wise, Arviat maintains a typical Nunavut small-Hamlet feel. While visitors will find an interesting and welcoming community, rich in culture and filled with some of the territory’s friendliest people, they will also find that Arviat is a quiet town with fewer amenities than you would find in a similar-sized community such as Rankin Inlet.

To learn more about the amenities it does have, check out my suggestions for what to eat, where to sleep, and what to do.

Mural on John Ollie Complex. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/14857922889/player/

Mural on John Ollie Complex. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/14857922889/player/

What to Eat

The Padlei Inns North Hotel has the only full-service restaurant in town, and even they are only open for set mealtimes throughout the day. So don’t lose track of time – if you show up late for lunch, you may have to wait until dinner. Serving up a well-done (if limited) menu, the B & C Burger – for “bacon and cheese” – and the club sandwich are my usual staples, although their specials change every day.

The other three retailers in town all have some take-out food on offer. The Northern Store’s Quick Stop has sandwiches and subs, as well as an attached “KFC Express” which, oddly, doesn’t actually serve any chicken pieces – more like chicken burgers and fries.

Eskimo Point Lumber Supply (EPLS), a locally-owned, family run business, also sells snacks, including nachos and their famed “Lumber Dawg” – a giant chili cheese dog. Their burgers are also pretty darn good, and EPLS is generally a place where you can find pretty much anything you would need – from food, to ammunition, to paint brushes, they tend to have it all.

New in town is Arctic Connection, a retailer and expeditor that also has take-out food service. Their menu varies from breakfast selections to poutine and pizza, depending on the day, and the reviews have been good.

Incidentally, Arctic Connection also holds my (admittedly informal) record for delivering freight from Winnipeg. I actually received a special parts order through them in less than 8 hours, which is not only amazing, it should technically be impossible. I still suspect they used a drone.

Where to Sleep

Like eating, the list of places to sleep in Arviat is pretty short. There’s the Padlei Inns North HotelKatimavik Suites, and the Beach House (the latter two owned by EPLS). While the Inns North has the convenience of a restaurant, both Katimavik Suites and the Beach House include access to in-room kitchenettes or a communal kitchen, respectively, which are fully stocked with all the cookware you might need. Some visitors prefer the convenience of the Inns North, while others (particularly those on longer-term stays) appreciate the ability to cook for themselves at EPLS’s properties.

Although densely populated, Arviat is not very large, only about 1.5 kilometers long and a half kilometer wide, so virtually the whole town is within walking distance no matter where you stay. For those rainy days (or those with -60 degree windchill) there are several cabs in town. Check with your hotel for their phone numbers and availability.

Northern lights over Arviat. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/11879983435/player/

Northern lights over Arviat. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/11879983435/player/

What to Do

Arviat is known as one of the most traditional communities in Nunavut. Well over 90% of the population still speaks Inuktitut as a first language, and traditional culture is alive and well. Many visitors to Arviat are mainly interested in learning and experiencing this culture during their visits.

To that end, a visit to the Margaret Aniksak Visitor’s Centre is always a great idea. The Visitor’s Centre contains information about the history of Arviat, the peoples who settled there, and the traditional lifestyles that they pursued. There are also displays of traditional clothing, tools, games, and more. Unfortunately, the Visitor’s Centre is only staffed for two months every year (usually in the summer), but at other times visitors can usually gain access through their guides or by contacting the Hamlet office and asking to arrange a tour.

Margaret Aniksak Visitor’s Centre, Exterior https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/15032698786/player/

Margaret Aniksak Visitor’s Centre, Exterior https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/15032698786/player/

Margaret Aniksak Visitor’s Centre, Clothing Display https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/15056055305/player/

Margaret Aniksak Visitor’s Centre, Clothing Display https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/15056055305/player/

Another great stop is Kiluk Ltd., a subsidiary of the Nunavut Development Corporation, where local women make beautiful wall hangings and elegant sealskin clothing and accessories. Kiluk also sells carvings and other artwork, as well as some traditional food such as pipsi (dried Arctic char) and tuktu (caribou). Arviat has a reputation for excellent seamstresses, and in recent years its business has expanded to making clothing for the Maplelea Dolls “Saila” doll, as well as contract work for Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., providing clothing embroidery and repair as well as corporate-branded gifts such as sealskin-covered notebooks. Kiluk is a great place to pick up some local arts and crafts, but, as in most Nunavut communities, you will also be approached by many people looking to sell carvings or other artworks.

Sealskin Products at Kiluk Ltd. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/12211821753/player/

Sealskin Products at Kiluk Ltd. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/12211821753/player/

For those who want to get out and experience some of the beautiful tundra and wildlife, get in touch with the Hamlet of Arviat Community Economic Development Office (867-857-2941 or arviatcedo@qiniq.com) for a list of outfitters and guides who can arrange land trips by ATV, snowmobile, or boat, where Arctic fox, beluga, caribou, and yes, polar bears are often abundant. There are also archaeological sites near the community and at Arviat’juaq National Park. These sites are best visited with an experienced local guide who can interpret them for you.

Caribou foraging on the tundra.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/14645866918/player/

Caribou foraging on the tundra. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/14645866918/player/

Polar bear walking along the shore. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/9497353077/player/

Polar bear walking along the shore. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/9497353077/player/

The Hamlet of Arviat is also currently working to develop an Eco-Park. While it’s still in the planning and design stage, when complete the park will have walking trails, interpretive material, and preserved wetlands for visitors and residents alike to enjoy.

Arviat is one of the fastest-growing yet traditional communities in Nunavut, and visitors with an open mind and a sense of adventure will find it one of the most unique places in Canada.

Arviat at night. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/9485234140/player/

Arviat at night. https://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianson/9485234140/player/

What are your favourite things to see and do in Arviat? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by Paul Aningat.

Keith Collier grew up in Bay D'Espoir, on Newfoundland's South Coast, and moved to St. John's to attend Memorial University. After 10 years of living and working in the city he quite suddenly moved to Arviat, Nunavut, where he now works as the Community Economic Development Officer. He has been published in several anthologies and is a regular contributor to The Newfoundland Quarterly and TheIndependent.ca. Reach him on Twitter @KeithCollier or at www.keithjcollier.ca.

Keith Collier grew up in Bay D'Espoir, on Newfoundland's South Coast, and moved to St. John's to attend Memorial University. After 10 years of living and working in the city he quite suddenly moved to Arviat, Nunavut, where he now works as the Community Economic Development Officer. He has been published in several anthologies and is a regular contributor to The Newfoundland Quarterly and TheIndependent.ca. Reach him on Twitter @KeithCollier or at www.keithjcollier.ca.

Keith Collier grew up in Bay D'Espoir, on Newfoundland's South Coast, and moved to St. John's to attend Memorial University. After 10 years of living and working in the city he quite suddenly moved to Arviat, Nunavut, where he now works as the Community Economic Development Officer. He has been published in several anthologies and is a regular contributor to

The Newfoundland Quarterly

and

TheIndependent.ca

. Reach him on Twitter

@KeithCollier

or at

www.keithjcollier.ca

.

10 Ways Iqaluit is Like a Campus

10 Ways Iqaluit is Like a Campus

Get ready to take notes: Here are 10 reasons why Nunavut's capital city of Iqaluit is like a campus. No tuition required to read this post.

Google Street View Iqaluit

Google Street View Iqaluit

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This post originally appeared on Go Girl Travel Network. The most common questions I am asked when I tell people I live in Iqaluit, Nunavut are, “Where is that?” and “What does it look like?”. As we wrote in our first post, these questions can easily be answered by Google. But, as we also said, we like to give our readers something a little extra, so, I have used Google Street View to craft a virtual tour of our snowy town. Scroll down to get a glimpse of Iqaluit and see some notable Street View finds.

Google Street View Iqaluit

This year on Nunavut Day, July 9th, Google launched Street View for Iqaluit, giving the world the opportunity to find out exactly “what it looks like” to live in a remote northern town.

Almost everyone who comes to Iqaluit arrives on a plane; this is because all 26 Nunavut communities are fly-in-only, meaning, no roads connecting the hamlets within the territory or to southern Canada. The lack of road access is part of what makes Nunavut remote.

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So if Iqaluit is fly-in-only, then how come almost everyone arrives on a plane? How do the non-flying people get here? One awesome word: snowmobiles. You don’t need roads when you have Skidoo trails, so from about early-November to late-June, the snowmobile is a viable mode of transportation between communities, or more commonly, to get around town.

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I have to be upfront about my choice in featuring this particular Street View: this is Justin, my partner, driving our Skidoo, sporting sealskin mitts, with the qamotik (wooden sled at the back) in tow. Suffice it to say that this is one of his proudest achievements.

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If snowmobiles are not your thing, you can kick it old school on a dog sled. Dog teams are now used mostly for sport or leisure and not as a main mode of transportation, but this traditional activity still evokes the history of pre-modern arctic living.

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Also keeping history alive are these original Hudson Bay buildings. Originally built in 1914 at Ward’s Inlet, then disassembled, transported, and rebuilt near Apex in 1943, these buildings served as an outpost for the Hudson Bay Company (HBC). The narrative around HBC, its fur trade, and its influence on Canada and the people who inhabited this vast land is complicated and often dark; somehow, that past only strengthens the historical, portentous nature of the HBC buildings.

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Not long after HBC set up camp in Iqaluit (then called Frobisher Bay) followed the military, but not the Canadians; it was the American military that saw Baffin Island as a good spot to build a base. Iqaluit’s military past is still visible today, such as this former barracks-turned Government of Nunavut’s Community and Government Services warehouse.

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Arctic architecture isn’t only based on trading posts and military necessities; building design is also inspired by the surrounding landscape and traditional Inuit structures. Two awesome examples in Iqaluit include the Nakusuk Elementary School, which either looks like an ice block or a piece of whale blubber (you tell me), and St. Jude’s Angilican church, known colloquially as the “igloo church”.

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Another architectural standout is the Inuksuk High School, sitting up on a ridge and painted a pretty sky blue. It not only looks cool, but it exemplifies cold weather functionality in its minimal use of glass, square shape, and of course, giant bowhead whale bones.

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One really neat feature of Iqaluit Street View is the ability to enter some of the town’s prominent buildings. Below is your first step into Inuksuk High School via the foyer flanked by giant soapstone carvings (go through the door to see more art and an antique snowmobile!). You can also get a virtual tour of the inside of Nakasuk Elementary School and the Legislative Assembly.

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By far the most interesting part of Street View is, fittingly, the view of the streets. Iqaluit doesn’t have sidewalks (though we do have posts) or traffic lights, but we do have the Four Corners, a four-way stop in Iqaluit’s downtown that every morning and evening is the site of what we like to call the “rush minute”.

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And finally, it wouldn’t be a tour of Iqaluit without an igloo, now would it? This igloo was built in front of the Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre, and Google Street View lets you enter both!

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For more virtual touring of Iqaluit, you can visit Google’s new Treks feature that takes you further into featured Street View locations.

Do you have a favourite Street View? Post the link in the comments or let us know via Twitter!

Facts About Iqaluit

Facts About Iqaluit

To introduce you to Iqaluit, we could direct you to Wikipedia. But that would be too obvious. Instead, here are some facts about Iqaluit, explained and contextualized.