Thursday, 16 May 2013

Clyde River, Baffin Island

- an artistic inuit settlement in an unsurpassable scenery


In the canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Island is the largest and the richest island, either in native settlements, or in nature wonders.


Natural Parks (Auyuittuq, Bylot Island, Sirmilik, Barnes Ice Cap)  and several Inuit communities, some of them previously mentioned here in Ultima Thule (Pond Inlet, Cape Dorset, Arctic By, Kimmirut, Qikiqtarjuaq ...), make this island a fabulous site of Arctic Heritage.

I reported here some time ago about the Sam Ford Fjord ; the closest hamlet to that astonishing place is Clyde River, a quite small inuit settlement with a strong artistic activity, due to a local school devoted to native arts.


Clyde River (or Kanngiqtugaapik) is an Inuit hamlet on the northeast coast of Baffin Island. The community is surrounded by mountains, dramatic cliffs, deep fjords and rolling tundra.


Population: 900
Coordinates: 70°28'N, 68°35′ W


It lies 450 km north of the Arctic Circle, in the Baffin Mountains, part of the Arctic Cordillera mountain range. The community is served by air flights and by annual supply sealift.

The main street

Clyde River is considered as a "last outpost of civilization", and  that isolation is certainly strongly felt in daily life.

Typical house on stilts

Bear and seal drying skins

The community is served by Quluaq School, two stores, a new arena, a community hall, a church, health center, hotel and Clyde River Airport with regular flights to Iqaluit and Pond Inlet.

Local people, mostly inuit, are slowly increasing their life standards. Good clothing is essential.

The traditional sealskin boots (Kamik)

The Qammaq hotel

Piqqusilirivvik, the Inuit Cultural School 



Clyde River artists use a light green stone, obtained from the area of northern Baffin Island, for their carvings; however, the main resource is old whalebone found along nearby beaches. In fact, this community is now the centre of whalebone carving in the Arctic.

Some examples:

Judah Natanine, Sedna and Daughter

The stone sculptures generally have soft, undulating outlines and are highly finished.

Cormorant, walrus tusk

Bird of Prey

Dancing walrus, or a piece of inuit humour

Inuit hunter

Far above the Arctic Circle, Clyde River is often under auroras, and in summer the sun doesn’t set for two months - the wonderful midnight sun.

Average temperatures:

Sam Ford Fjord

The major natural attraction of the central region of Baffin Island , Sam Ford Fjord has already been reported here in a previous post:


It's a little-known natural wonder along Baffin Island's rugged northeast coast, a spectacular, 110-km-long channel lined by towering cliffs.


Immense walls carved thousands of years ago by ancient glaciers make Sam Ford Fjord one of the most impressive sights in the world

The Polar Sun Spire (1438 m above sea level), a famous vertical climb:


The spire is notable for its spectacular north face and has been the scene of some amazing epic climbs. The first ascent was made in 1996.


Sam Ford Fjord is located on the east coast of Baffin Island, between the inuit settlements of Pond Inlet and Clyde River.



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