Meaning: The large bay
Kangirsujuaq occupies an exceptional site, 10 km from the Hudson Strait, on the south-eastern shore of Wakeham Bay. The village is snuggled in the hollow of a splendid valley surrounded by majestic mountains, a landscape of unspeakable beauty. Of particular note is the method employed by local Inuit to harvest mussels in winter. As the tide ebbs in shallow areas, they pierce holes in the sea ice. With the water having receded, they drop themselves through these holes and are able to crawl under the ice to collect this succulent seafood delicacy.
In 1884, members of the Canadian Hudson's Bay Expedition, aboard the steamship Neptune, arrived in the area anxious to establish a commercial route to Europe through the Hudson Strait. An ice observation and meteorological station were built at Stupart Bay (known as Aniuvarjuaq by the Inuit). Inuit began to trade frequently with observers posted at the station: seal-skin mitts and boots for tobacco and gun powder.
Wakeham Bay takes its name from Captain William Wakeham who, in 1897, lead an expedition to determine whether the Hudson Strait was safe for navigation. In 1961, the provincial government renamed the settlement Sainte-Anne-de-Maricourt, until with the establishment of a municipality it officially readopted its Inuktitut name, Kangirsujuaq.
In 1910, the French company Révillon Frères established a post at Kangiqsujuaq. Four years later, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) followed suit. In 1928, the HBC established an experimental fox farm which it operated for 12 years. In 1936, the Révillon Frères trading post was closed, but a Catholic mission was established. Many Oblate priests have lived at the mission, among them, Father Dion since 1964. In 1960, the first school was opened, followed the next year by a nursing station. An Anglican church was established in 1963. Kangirsujuammiut established their co-operative store in 1970.
Kangiqsujuaq is located north of the Cape Smith belt, an area rich in mineralization. Since the 1950s, exploitation has been carried out irregularly. Through the 1970s and 80s, asbestos was mined at Purtuniq. Today, a copper and nickel mine called raglan is operated by Xstrata Nickel in the area. Roughly 17% of this mine's workforce is drawn from Nunavik communities.
Pingualuit: accessible from Kangirsujuaq.
Douglas Harbour: spectacular double fjord with steep, rocky walls.
Qikirtaaluk Island and Qajartalik: archeological sites only 15 km south-east of the village. Petroglyph masks dating back to the late Dorset period, about 1200 years ago. Also, remnants of semi-subterranean houses built by Inuit of the Thule period, 800 years ago.
For more information:
Northern Village of Kangiqsujuaq: 819-338-3342
Nunaturlik Lanholding Corporation 819-338-3368