Monday, 15 August 2011

Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

Here lies the wreck of Amundsen's Maud

Cambridge Bay, on the southern edge of Victoria Island (arctic archipelago of Canada) is a colourful Inuit settlement in the arctic semi-desert tundra.

Location: 69°07′ N, 105°03′ W

The anglican church

The sea-bay front and the antenna.

The arctic visitor centre

Remains of an old stone church

With a land area of more than 200,000 square kilometres, Victoria Island is the ninth-largest island in the world. The region belongs to the territory of Nunavut in extreme north-eastern Canada.
The population of Cambridge Bay is around 1500 people. The native name of the settlement, Iqaluktuttiaq, means "a good place with many fish".

Inuit drum player

Dry arctic char, the local speciality.

The name of Cambridge Bay traces back to the year 1839, when the district was mapped by the Hudson's Bay Company, the skin trade emporium, with a small outpost there:

Hudson's Bay Company cabin

In the 1940s a lighthouse was built in Cambridge Bay, followed during the Cold War in the 1950s by a large radar system which is no longer in operation.

These new conditions led to an increase in population, who had to live in an inhospitable region where average temperatures never rise above 10 °C in summer and the thermometer falls to average levels of below –30 °C in winter.

School bus stop

To enable so many people to live permanently in isolation, the hamlet has numerous facilities in its centre including schools, a health center, a swimming pool...

The shipwreck of the Maud

You are made for ice
You shall spend your best years in the ice
And you shall do your work in the ice

In 1918, Roald Amundsen had launched an expedition through the North-East Passage. He had the ship Maud built for this purpose.

The Maud

The expedition failed, and in August 1925 the Maud was taken over by the Hudson's Bay Company and used as a supply ship for Cambridge Bay, where she sank in 1930. Today, parts of the hull offer a reminder of this chapter in the opening up of the Arctic.

The ship now lies just off the shore in the bay, across the frozen ice from Cambridge Bay's former Hudson's Bay Company store.

Tundra vegetation surrounds the hamlet area:

Musk oxen are common in Victoria island:

Cambridge Bay in Nunavut's Arctic Archipelago: