One of the best ways to visit Canada’s extensive Arctic region is by small expedition ship, allowing exploration deep into the convoluted fjords; landing in secluded bays and visiting remote communities. The area is home to a wide range of wildlife from caribou, wolves, foxes, hares, wolverine and polar bears. Bird and marine life are also prolific with nutrient rich waters home to humpback whales, orca, walrus, bearded seals and the illusive narwhal.
This region has been populated for thousands of years from the Paleo-Eskimo to the modern day Inuit and it is possible to visit these small communities and learn about life in the harsh north. The region is also steeped in history of the early explorers such as Frobisher, Franklin and Amundsen.
Why visit the Canadian Arctic
- Explore areas only accessible by small expedition vessel
- Sail in the wake of some great explorers through the Northwest Passage
- Learn more about the fate of Franklin, his men and their recently rediscovered ship
- Visit Inuit communities and learn about their traditional and modern ways of life
- Search for the king of the Arctic the polar bear
- View the Aurora Borealis with very little light pollution
The Northwest Passage is synonymous with Franklin and in 2014 one of his missing ships was found, but many of the mysteries of his ill-fated expedition are still to be answered. There are many historic sites to visit including the eerie Beechy Island where the graves of three of Franklin’s men lie with their cryptic inscriptions. The narrow waterways of this region are frequently choked with ice and impassable but for a few months each year. This region is also home to much of the iconic Arctic wildlife including polar bears, walrus and musk oxen and the very occasional sighting of narwhal.
This is the largest island in Canada and fifth largest in the world. With a population of around just 11,000 and most people located in Iqaluit, there is plenty of wilderness to explore. Wildlife in the region includes Arctic wolves, hare and fox along with polar bears and barren ground caribou. The coastal waters are home to a wide range of marine mammals and birds. In the south you can explore the Auyuittuq National Park with local Inuit guides and to the north Sirmilik National Park, with rugged mountains, ice fields, glaciers, coastal lowlands and large seabird colonies.
More than a fifth of the Ellesmere Island is protected within Quttinirpaaq National Park, with extensive ice caps and glaciers making for spectacular landscapes. Tanquary Fjord has 65 frost-free days per year, considered remarkable for its latitude. Glaciologists have noticed that stages of huge deglaciation and massive glacial advance have occurred in this region. Grise Fiord, which in Inuktitut is “Aujuittuq”, meaning "place that never thaws" is the largest community on Ellesmere Island. It is also one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, with an average yearly temperature of -16.5 °C.