Whale Cove, Nunavut

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Whale Cove
Canada Nunavut location map-lambert proj3.svg
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Whale Cove
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Whale Cove
Coordinates: 62°10′22″N092°34′46″W / 62.17278°N 92.57944°W / 62.17278; -92.57944 Coordinates: 62°10′22″N092°34′46″W / 62.17278°N 92.57944°W / 62.17278; -92.57944
Territory Nunavut
Region Kivalliq
Electoral district Arviat North-Whale Cove
  TypeHamlet Council
  MayorPercy Kabloona
  Senior Administrative OfficerIan Copland
   MLA John Main
  Total283.66 km2 (109.52 sq mi)
40 m (130 ft)
 (2016) [3]
  Density1.5/km2 (4.0/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−06:00 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
Canadian Postal code
Area code(s) 867

Whale Cove (ᑎᑭᕋᕐᔪᐊᖅ in Inuktitut syllabics) (Tikiraqjuaq, meaning "long point"), is a hamlet located 74 km (46 mi) south southwest of Rankin Inlet, 145 km (90 mi) northeast of Arviat, in Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada, on the western shore of Hudson Bay.


The community is named for the many beluga whales which congregate off the coast. Many of the inhabitants hunt these whales every fall and use their by-products for their oil and food. Whale Cove, initially settled by three distinct Inuit groups (one inland and two coastal), is a relatively traditional community: 99% Inuit, who still wear fur, hunt, fish, eat raw meat and fish. Several bowhead whales may appear in the area as well. [5] Whale Cove is on the polar bear migration route.

Local Inuit regularly travel by snowmobile in the winter or by boat in summer months between the hamlet of Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, a distance of 100 km (62 mi). The terrain is Arctic tundra, this consists mostly of rocks, mosses and lichens.


Whale Cove Whale Cove, Nunavut2.jpg
Whale Cove

Inuit in the Whale Cove area traded whale oil, baleen, furs, leather and walrus tusks with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) since the mid-18th century when the HBC established their trading post at Churchill, Manitoba. [6]

Relocations 1950s

In the 1950s and 1960s Inuit were relocated in a series of moves from one hamlet to another, some of them arriving in Whale Cove, a hamlet created by the federal government for these Inuit groups. Some came from Ennadai Lake via Arviat to Whale Cove, other came from Back River via Garry Lake then Baker Lake to Whale Cove. By the 1970s Inuit living in Whale Cove represented boast coastal Inuit from Rankin Inlet and Arviat and different Caribou Inuit, from the Barren Grounds west of Hudson Bay, including the Ihalmiut ("people from beyond"), or Ahiarmiut ("the out-of-the-way dwellers") on the banks of the Kazan River, Ennadai Lake, Little Dubawnt Lake (Kamilikuak), and north of Thlewiaza (Kugjuaq; "Big River"), had been relocated in the 1950s Whale Cove and Henik Lake. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] by the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada). Their hunting experience was based almost entirely on "inland caribou herds that had thinned by the 1950s and left many families hungry. Coastal dwelling Inuit from Rankin Inlet and Arviat were relocated to Whale Cove from nearby coastal communities in order to aid the inlanders in adapting to a marine subsistence economy." [12]

Ennadai Lake relocations 1950–1960s

In the late 1960s a famine swept the land. Inuit were forced to walk towards places like Arviat to escape the desperation. Survivors who couldn't walk were airlifted to Whale Cove, Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet. [13]


Federal census population history of Whale Cove
1991 235+11.9%
1996 301+28.1%
2001 305+1.3%
2006 353+15.7%
2011 407+15.3%
2016 435+6.9%
2021 470+8.0%
Source: Statistics Canada
[14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Whale Cove recorded a population of 470 living in 116 of its 128 total private dwellings, a change of


In 1971 in Toronto, at the first meeting of what would become the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Celestino Makpah, a traditional tool maker, who makes harpoons, ice chisels etc. but specializes in uluit, [23] [Notes 1] the representative from Whale Cove described a number of ways in which the affairs of the Inuit of the Keewatin were managed by the government and non-Inuit. Celestino recounted how, "a non-Native southerner started a private fishing enterprise on two lakes near Whale Cove without consulting the local people. At the time, the federal government decided what projects would or would not happen in the Northwest Territories." [24] "In our area, in Keewatin, there is no one managing the affairs of the Inuit other than the government. It is all government. I will give you an example: Near the surroundings of Whale Cove we have a large lake with plenty of fish. The white people control that lake just like they own it. There is a man, who is a tourist, who is probably one of the richest men there and he controls that lake. I don't mind at all if anyone is a tourist comes into our communities and fishes. The only thing I don't like about it is the government is the channel through which these private enterpriser go of course, because it is their land! So far there have been two large lakes which have been taken by private enterpriser with the help of the government, and this is one of the examples I really dislike. Since they are the government, even though they are aware of the rights of the native people they will not come and tell you "Do you know what your rights are? Do you know what you should do?" I think we, the Inuits[ sic ], are just waiting for something to come up. " [25] "These should have been under our control," Makpah said, "[the lakes] should never have been given to the American enterpriser." [24]

In 1973, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami) initiated the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Project and anthropologist David Hoffman conducted fieldwork in Whale Cove as part of a team of experts contributing to this project. [26] The project under Milton Freeman, [27] "documented the total Inuit land use area of the Northwest Territories, then stretching from the Mackenzie River to east Baffin Island," to provide, in Freeman's words, "information in support of the fact that Inuit have used and occupied this vast northern land since time immemorial and that they still use and occupy it to this day." Hoffmann admired the "precision with which Inuit – who did not ordinarily use maps and who often could not read English – were able to recall specific areas of use and the "incredible encyclopedic knowledge of the land," formed by generations of dependence on its living bounty." [24]

Economic development

Whale Cove companies and organizations, community and government services, the Kivalliq Inuit Association, First Air, Kivalliq Air, Arctic Co-operative, Nunavut Arctic College, Calm Air, Service Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sakku Development Corp., Nunavut Development Corp, Agnico-Eagle, The North West Company, Kivalliq Partners in Development and ED&T. made presentations at the first Economic Development Day held at the Inuglak School gymnasium, in Whale Cove on 20 September 2011. [28]

According to the Nunavut Planning Commission Whale Cove region's potential non-renewable resources include: "gold, diamonds, uranium, base metals, and nickel-copper platinum group elements (PGEs)". [29]

Broadband communications

The community has been served by the Qiniq network since 2005. Qiniq is a fixed wireless service to homes and businesses, connecting to the outside world via a satellite backbone. The Qiniq network is designed and operated by SSI Micro. In 2017, the network was upgraded to 4G LTE technology, and 2G-GSM for mobile voice. In September 2019, Bell Mobility established a data tower and provides high-speed mobile and internet connectivity within the community. TELUS users will also receive coverage due to the Bell/TELUS cellular partnership.


Whale Cove features a cold tundra climate (Köppen climate classification: ET); unlike most of southern Nunavut (most of which is usually a subarctic climate); with cold winters averaging around −23 °C (−9 °F), and cool, very wet and rainy summers averaging around 6.8 °C (44.2 °F); but temperatures of 25 °C (77 °F) or above are possible. Winters run from October/November until April/May with temperatures averaging between −14.6 and −30.6 °C (5.7 and −23.1 °F). Summers run from June to September, and average temperatures range from 3.5 to 9.8 °C (38.3 to 49.6 °F). Summers are usually cool, wet, and rainy, but can be warm, with a record high of 29.0 °C (84.2 °F). Summers typically last four months.

Climate data for Whale Cove (Whale Cove Airport), elevation: 12 m or 39 ft, 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1985-2007
Record high humidex −5.9−
Record high °C (°F)−2.0
Average high °C (°F)−27.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−30.6
Average low °C (°F)−34.1
Record low °C (°F)−44.0
Record low wind chill −63.8−68.9−61.1−48.4−34.7−−16.9−39.6−53.6−59.3−68.9
Average precipitation mm (inches)15.1
Average rainfall mm (inches)0.0
Average snowfall cm (inches)16.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Average relative humidity (%)64.367.870.080.284.775.273.872.476.886.479.671.975.3
Source: Environment Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010 [30]

Notable people from Whale Cove

John Adjuk (1913 Back River -2006 Whale Cove) moved with his family to Whale Cove in March 1964 from the Baker Lake area. Originally from the Back River area (Chantrey Inlet) north of Baker Lake, living the traditional way of life on the land, he moved to the Garry Lake area. Following famine in the Garry Lake area, he was evacuated to Baker (Lake Qamanittuaq) in 1955. In 1955 they returned to Garry Lake but in early 1958 the family of five was evacuated to the community of Baker Lake when famine struck the land. The Hanningajurmiut, or Hanningaruqmiut, or Hanningajulinmiut {"the people of the place that lies across"} lived at Garry Lake, south of the Utkuhiksalingmiut. Many Hanningajurmiut starved in 1958 when the caribou bypassed their traditional hunting grounds, but the 31 who survived were relocated to Baker. Most never returned permanently to Garry Lake. [31] [Notes 2] In March, 1964, the Adjuk family, which now included six daughters, moved to Whale Cove because it was thought the hunting and fishing was better. [32]


Nunavut Arctic College has a branch in Whale Cove.


  1. Celestino instructs students at the Maani Ulujuk High School.
  2. First generation Inuit artists such as Jessie Oonark, Marion Tuu'luq and camp leader Luke Anguhadluq (1895-1982) were also born in the Back River area of Nunavut and were evacuated to Baker Lake because of starvation in 1967.


  1. Nunavummiut vie for council positions in upcoming hamlet elections
  2. Results for the constituency of Arviat North-Whale Cove at Elections Nunavut
  3. 1 2 "2016 Census Profile". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  4. Elevation at airport. Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 16 July 2020 to 0901Z 10 September 2020.
  5. Cosens & Innes 2000.
  6. Welch & Payne 2012.
  7. Mowat 2001, p. [ page needed ].
  8. Mowat 2005, p. 24.
  9. Madsen, Kirsten. "Project Caribou" (PDF). Whitehorse, Yukon Territory: Yukon Department of Environment. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
  10. "Remembering Kikkik". Nunatsiaq News. 2002-06-21. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2007-12-22.
  11. Layman, Bill. "Nu-thel-tin-tu-eh and the Thlewiaza River". Horizons Unlimited. Archived from the original on 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
  12. Argetsinger 2009, p. 24.
  13. Steenhoven 1968.
  14. "1981 Census of Canada: Census subdivisions in decreasing population order" (PDF). Statistics Canada. May 1992. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  15. "1986 Census: Population - Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions" (PDF). Statistics Canada. September 1987. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  16. "91 Census: Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions - Population and Dwelling Counts" (PDF). Statistics Canada. April 1992. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  17. "96 Census: A National Overview - Population and Dwelling Counts" (PDF). Statistics Canada. April 1997. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  18. "Population and Dwelling Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Census Subdivisions (Municipalities), 2001 and 1996 Censuses - 100% Data (Nunavut)". Statistics Canada. August 15, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  19. "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data (Nunavut)". Statistics Canada. August 20, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  20. "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Nunavut)". Statistics Canada. July 25, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  21. "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Nunavut)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  22. 1 2 "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), Nunavut". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  23. Rankin Inlet profiles
  24. 1 2 3 Argetsinger 2009, p. 18.
  25. ITK 1971.
  26. Argetsinger 2009, p. 23.
  27. Freeman 1976.
  28. Greer 2011.
  29. "Whale Cove". Nunavut Planning Commission. Archived from the original on 2012-07-06.
  30. "Whale Cove A" (CSV (4222 KB)). Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Climate ID: 2303986. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  31. Tester & Kulchyski 2001.
  32. Kuehl 2002.

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Further reading