Southampton Island

Last updated

Map of the Southampton Island
Canada Nunavut location map-lambert proj3.svg
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Canada relief map 2.svg
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Location Hudson Bay at Foxe Basin
Coordinates 64°30′N084°30′W / 64.500°N 84.500°W / 64.500; -84.500 (Southampton Island) Coordinates: 64°30′N084°30′W / 64.500°N 84.500°W / 64.500; -84.500 (Southampton Island)
Archipelago Arctic Archipelago
Area41,214 km2 (15,913 sq mi)
Area rank 34th
Highest elevation625 m (2051 ft)
Highest point Mathiassen Mountain
Province Nunavut
Region Kivalliq
Largest settlement Coral Harbour (pop. 1035 [1] )
Population1035 (Canada 2021 Census)
Ethnic groups Inuit

Southampton Island (Inuktitut: Shugliaq) [2] is a large island at the entrance to Hudson Bay at Foxe Basin. One of the larger members of the Arctic Archipelago, Southampton Island is part of the Kivalliq Region in Nunavut, Canada. The area of the island is stated as 41,214 km2 (15,913 sq mi) by Statistics Canada. [3] It is the 34th largest island in the world and Canada's ninth largest island. The only settlement on Southampton Island is Coral Harbour (population 1035, Canada 2021 Census), [4] called Salliq in Inuktitut.


Southampton Island is one of the few Canadian areas, and the only area in Nunavut, that does not use daylight saving time.


Historically speaking, Southampton Island is famous for its now-extinct inhabitants, the Sadlermiut (modern Inuktitut Sallirmiut "Inhabitants of Salliq "), who were the last vestige of the Tuniit or Dorset. The Tuniit, a pre-Inuit culture, officially went ethnically and culturally extinct in 1902-03 [5] when infectious disease killed all of the Sallirmiut in a matter of weeks.

The island's first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1613 by Welsh explorer Thomas Button. [6]

Glacial rebound on Southampton Island. Snow-enhanced paleo-strand lines from the last 10,000 years, during the spring thaw, 2011 Glacial rebound on Southhampton Island, Nunavut.jpg
Glacial rebound on Southampton Island. Snow-enhanced paleo-strand lines from the last 10,000 years, during the spring thaw, 2011

At the beginning of the 20th century, the island was repopulated by Aivilingmiut from Naujaat and Chesterfield Inlet, influenced to do so by whaler Captain George Comer and others. Baffin Islanders arrived 25 years later. John Ell, who as a young child travelled with his mother Shoofly on Comer's schooners, eventually became the most famous of Southampton Island's re-settled population. [7]

The Native Point archaeological site at the mouth of Native Bay is the largest Sadlermiut site on the island. [8]


Southampton Island does have geological resources that are of scientific and industrial interest. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

However, full knowledge of the island is still lacking according to the Nunavut government. [15]

The current level of basic geoscience available for the Southampton region is inadequate to meet current exploration demands. Regional scale mapping of the bedrock geology of Southampton Island has not occurred since 1969. Only the most general of rock distinctions are made on the existing geological map, and only a very rudimentary understanding of the surficial geology exists. Currently there is no publicly available, regional-scale surficial (till) geochemical data which is essential for understanding exploration potential for metals and diamonds.


It is separated from the Melville Peninsula by Frozen Strait. [16] Other waterways surrounding the island include Roes Welcome Sound to the west, Bay of Gods Mercy in the southwest, Fisher Strait in the south, Evans Strait in the southeast, and Foxe Channel in the east.

Hansine Lake is located in the far north. Bell Peninsula is located in the southeastern part of the island. [17] Mathiassen Mountain, a member of the Porsild Mountains, is the island's highest peak. The island's shape is vaguely similar to that of Newfoundland.


Southampton Island has a severe subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) which transitions into a tundra climate (ET). Like almost all of Nunavut, Southampton Island is entirely above the tree line. Coral Harbour has never gone above freezing in January, February and March (although the latter has recorded 0.0 °C (32.0 °F). Due to the frozen nature of Hudson Bay, there is a severe seasonal lag until June, especially compared to more continental areas such as Fairbanks despite much sunshine and perpetual twilight at night. Due to the drop of solar strength and the absence of warm water even in summer, temperatures still drop off very fast as September approaches. Cold extremes are severe, but in line with many areas even farther south in Canada's interior.

Climate data for Coral Harbour (Coral Harbour Airport)
WMO ID: 71915; coordinates 64°11′36″N83°21′34″W / 64.19333°N 83.35944°W / 64.19333; -83.35944 (Cambridge Bay Airport) ; elevation: 62.2 m (204 ft); 1981–2010 normals
Record high humidex −0.6−1.9−
Record high °C (°F)−0.6
Average high °C (°F)−25.5
Daily mean °C (°F)−29.6
Average low °C (°F)−33.7
Record low °C (°F)−52.8
Record low wind chill −69.5−69.3−64.3−55.1−39.7−23.2−8.2−11.8−23.7−43.7−54.8−64.2−69.5
Average precipitation mm (inches)9.5
Average rainfall mm (inches)0.0
Average snowfall cm (inches)9.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Average relative humidity (%)64.964.267.573.880.373.963.168.975.684.877.669.772.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 37.9112.1187.4240.2239.9262.2312.3220.4109.870.847.918.81,859.7
Percent possible sunshine 22.447.051.653.242.041.951.243.327.923.324.313.936.8
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010 [18]


East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary are located on the island and are important breeding sites for the lesser snow goose (Anser caerulescens caerulescens). The island is also the site of two Important Bird Areas (IBAs), the Boas River wetlands in the southwest and East Bay/Native Bay in the southeast. Both host large summer colonies of the lesser snow goose, together comprising over 10% of the world's snow goose population, with Boas River site alone hosting over 500.000 individuals nesting there. Smaller, but also important, are the colonies of the brent goose (Branta bernicla) and numerous other polar bird species there. [19] [20] Southampton Island is one of two main summering grounds known for bowhead whales in Hudson Bay. [21] [22] [23]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baffin Island</span> Largest Arctic island in Nunavut, Canada

Baffin Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, is the largest island in Canada and the fifth-largest island in the world. Its area is 507,451 km2 (195,928 sq mi), slightly larger than Spain; its population was 13,039 as of the 2021 Canadian census; and it is located at 68°N70°W. It also contains the city of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Akimiski Island</span> Island in southern Hudson Bay

Akimiski Island is the largest island in James Bay, Canada, which is part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of the territory of Nunavut. It has an area of 3,001 km2 (1,159 sq mi), making it the 163rd largest island in the world, and Canada's 29th largest island. Akimiski Island is 19 km (12 mi) from the province of Ontario. From the western side of the island, the Ontario coastline is visible.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coats Island</span> Island in Nunavut, Canada

Coats Island lies at the northern end of Hudson Bay in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut. At 5,498 km2 (2,123 sq mi) in size, it is the 107th largest island in the world, and Canada's 24th largest island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sadlermiut</span> Extinct group of Inuit in Nunavut, Canada

The Sadlermiut were an Inuit group living in near isolation mainly on and around Coats Island, Walrus Island, and Southampton Island in Hudson Bay. They survived into the early 20th century and were thought by some to have been the last remnants of the Dorset culture as they had preserved a culture and dialect distinct from the mainland Inuit. Despite their culture and local traditions seeming to show combined elements of both the Dorset and Thule societies, genetic studies show no Dorset admixture and prove a sole Inuit ancestry leading many to conclude the cultural difference may be entirely due to their isolation from the mainland Inuit. Research published in 2015 found that the Sadlermiut were genetically Thule who had somehow acquired Dorset cultural features, such as stone technology. It remains a mystery how they acquired Dorset technology in the absence of obvious genetic admixture such as through intermarrying.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Foxe Basin</span> Oceanic basin north of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut, Canada

Foxe Basin is a shallow oceanic basin north of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut, Canada, located between Baffin Island and the Melville Peninsula. For most of the year, it is blocked by sea ice and drift ice made up of multiple ice floes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coral Harbour</span> Hamlet in Nunavut, Canada

Coral Harbour, is a small Inuit community that is located on Southampton Island, Kivalliq Region, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. Its name is derived from the fossilized coral that can be found around the waters of the community which is situated at the head of South Bay. The name of the settlement in Inuktitut is Salliq, sometimes used to refer to all of Southampton Island. The plural Salliit, means large flat island(s) in front of the mainland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prince Leopold Island</span>

Prince Leopold Island is an island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in Lancaster Sound at the junction of Prince Regent Inlet and Barrow Strait. Somerset Island is situated 13 km (8.1 mi) to the southwest; Port Leopold, an abandoned trading post, is the closest landmark. The island is significant as a summer habitat and breeding ground for large populations of several arctic bird species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coburg Island</span> Island in Canada

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inuit</span> Group of peoples of Arctic North America

Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic and subarctic regions of Greenland, Labrador, Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska. Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo–Aleut languages, also known as Inuit-Yupik-Unangan, and also as Eskaleut. Inuit Sign Language is a critically endangered language isolate used in Nunavut.

Duke of York Bay is an arm of Foxe Basin, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in northeastern Southampton Island. The bay is directly south of the southern end of White Island, with Comer Strait at the western entrance and Falcon Strait at the eastern entrance.

Tasiujaq formerly Murray Maxwell Bay is an uninhabited waterway in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the Foxe Basin, north of Baffin Island's Siorarsuk Peninsula. Kapuiviit lies at the opening of the bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bell Peninsula</span> Peninsula in Kivalliq Region, Canada

The Bell Peninsula is located on southeastern Southampton Island, in the Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is in close proximity to the small Inuit community of Coral Harbour. The southern shores make up the northern boundary of Hudson Bay. Foxe Basin is to the east. There are several large bays surrounding the peninsula. Bowhead whale frequent the area. The Bell Peninsula's irregular coastline is marked by five distinct points, some of which have notable archaeological sites. Mount Minto, in the north, is the highest peak. The Back Peninsula is on the eastern end of the Bell Peninsula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dorset Island</span> Island in the Arctic Archipelago

Dorset Island or Cape Dorset Island is one of the Canadian Arctic islands located in Hudson Strait, Nunavut, Canada. It lies off the Foxe Peninsula area of southwestern Baffin Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region. It is serviced by an airport and a harbour.

The Boas is a river on Southampton Island in Nunavut, Canada. The river rises at 64°49′58″N084°23′34″W and its mouth is located at the Bay of Gods Mercy. Proceeding inland, the river becomes braided and is about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) wide.

Native Point is a peninsula in the Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is located on Southampton Island's Bell Peninsula at the mouth of Native Bay. It is notable for being the location of an abandoned Sadlermiut settlement, currently an archaeological site.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area</span> National Wildlife Area site in Nunavut, Canada

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  14. "Information archivée dans le Web" (PDF). Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  15. Southampton Island Integrated Geoscience (Siig) Project Plan/Description [ permanent dead link ]
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  20. "East Bay/Native Bay (NU023)". Important Bird Areas. IBA Canada. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
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  23. [ bare URL PDF ]

Further reading