Sunday, 11 August 2013

Paulatuk, the blue inuvialuit hamlet by the 'Smoking Hills' of Franklin Bay

Paulatuk is located 400 km east of Inuvik, near the mouth of the Hornaday River(*). The town is the main doorway to the Tuktut Nogait National Park, in the northeast corner of the Northwest Territories of Canada, and partly in the neighboring Nunavut region.

Paulatuk was founded in the 1920's on the site of an inuvialuit (native inuit population) hamlet on the Northwest Territories; it was named for the coal resources of the Darnley Bay area, which is also rich in several metals.

Population  ~300
Coordinates: 69°21′ N, 124°04′ W

Darnley bay is a large inlet of the Amundsen Gulf arctic waters, 170 km north of the arctic circle.

The residential houses of Paulatuk are typically blue-painted.

The rather unusual church, from 1936. 

Hudson Bay Company started an outpost at nearby Letty Harbour in 1930, but it didn't las long and was closed in 1937. By that time, a catholic Mission took over in Paulatuk as a small trading post. But only in the mid 1960's most people in the area came to Paulatuk, where government started building houses, school, a health center and other facilities.

The Paulatuk Center houses the community's Hotel, the Northern store and offices. There is also a shop for the native artwork - prints and carvings.

The Post Office

The Church and the old catholic trading post where the town began.

Many traditional activities, such as drum dancing, sewing, and land-based skills, have been revived through the work of elders community members.

Hunting, fishing and trapping are major economic activities, but in recent years art printmaking hand carving as played an increasing role in the local economy.

Returning home in late afternoon, on the frozen waters of Darnley Bay.

Paulatuk is not far north from the arctic circle, so the 'long' polar night here is rather short, less than two months.

The small airport has recently been improved with a new terminal building:


From Paulatuk, the Smoking Hills of Franklin Bay are about 105 km west on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

Trips on Darnley Bay and to the Smoking Hills depart from Paulatuk in the summer months. The major inconvenience is the mosquito plague in warm weather.


The Tuktut Nogait national park is located 170 km north of the arctic circle, on the Northwestern Territories of canada, at 68º N, 121º W.
This is one of the most remote parks in Canada, with vast expanses of tundra and deep canyons,  scenic waterfalls and crystal clear rivers.

The Hornaday River's canyon

The Hornaday canyon, east of Paulatuk .

La Roncière Falls (69°08′N, 122°52′W) is a 23 m waterfall on the Hornaday.

This is one of the most spectacular sites in the park.

As the river approaches its mouth, it starts meandering through the tundra flatland into a final large delta.

The river empties calmly into Amundsen Gulf's Darnley Bay, 14 km east of Paulatuk.

Aerial view of Paulatuk