Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
Click here for an update
No bank branches. Light banking and Interac available at Northern Store only (limited cash available). Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) services are available. Limited cell phone service available.
Like many locations on Baffin Island, the area around Clyde River has always been inhabited by Inuit camps that moved with the seasons to take advantage of the wildlife and resources that presented themselves. The Inuktitut name of Clyde River, Kangiqtugaapik, means “nice little inlet.” Even before the arrival of whalers in the 1800s, Inuit hunted the bowhead whales that migrated into the region. In recognition of the importance of whaling to the area, Isabella Bay, which is located outside of the community, was set aside as the first Canadian Bowhead Marine Sanctuary in 2010.
Literature reveals that the first European contact came from the Vikings in 1000 AD. The next recorded contact was in 1616, when Robert Bylot and William Baffin explored and mapped the area. John Ross gave the community its English name, Clyde River, in 1818. The abundance of whales attracted both American and Scottish whalers in 1820 and the hunt continued until the early 1900s, when the number of whales began to decline. In 1924, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established a trading post, to which Inuit travelled from their various camp locations. The United States Coast Guard built a weather station during the 1940s at Cape Christian near the current location of Clyde River, followed by the construction of a federal school in 1960. The physical location of the Clyde River community was moved across Patricia Bay to its current location between 1967 and 1970 to provide better opportunities for building infrastructure, such as water supply, a community airstrip, and room for community growth.
The Government of Nunavut (GN) Employee Orientation website offers an excellent collection of material on the general history of Nunavut, together with an overview of Inuit culture and history and an explanation of how Inuit cultural principles are being incorporated into government operations and services. We recommend exploring this site once it is available again after their restructuring, for now you can try the general GN site for information.
Traditional Inuit culture is very important to the residents of Clyde River, and hunting remains an integral part of everyday life. Piqqusilirivik Inuit Cultural Learning Centre (www.piqqu.ca), a project of Nunavut’s Department of Culture and Heritage and now administered by Nunavut Arctic College, is located here. Its purpose is to teach Inuit language, culture, values and heritage. In addition, Clyde River is home to the Ilisaqsivik Society, a non-profit community-based organization that is dedicated to promoting community wellness. It offers a range of services, from mental health and wellness programs to supporting the community library and public Internet access. It also provides programs for youth and Elders and develops programs in areas such as land programs, to help teach and maintain traditional Inuit skills, and film and media workshops. Ilisaqsivik has established the Ittaq Cultural Heritage and Research Centre and there is an Anglican church in Clyde River.
Clyde River is an Inuktitut-speaking community. In the 2011 Census, 96% of the population claimed Inuktitut as their mother tongue and the first language of the home. Around 20% of Clyde River residents do not speak either English or French, which means that on occasion newcomers or visitors need to find someone who speaks English to translate for them. Only 16% of the population speaks English regularly at home as a second language and there is just a handful of French speakers. However, 80% of the population does say it speaks English. You can expect most public events and meetings to be conducted in both English and Inuktitut, but you should not expect general Inuktitut conversations to be translated automatically just because an English speaker is present. Inuktitut dialects vary widely across Nunavut, so if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn dialectal differences and to have local residents correct your usage. The Inuit language (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French are all official languages of Nunavut, so you have the right to request government services in the official language of your choice.
Clyde River is a very young community. The 2011 Census counted 125 pre-school and 290 school age children, making 44% of the population under 18. There are even fewer Elders in Clyde than in most communities, with only 2% of the population over age 65. The few Elders who live in Clyde are active participants in many of the programs the Ilisaqsivik Society sponsors, passing on Inuit traditional values and knowledge to the younger generations and helping to document family histories.
Clyde River is a traditional community in which the local economy focuses largely on providing goods and services to local residents. Many people engage in subsistence hunting. While Clyde River does not have the decentralized government offices that form a significant part of the economy of many Nunavut communities, efforts are being made to increase the Hamlet’s tourism potential, given the abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery, and nearby bowhead whale sanctuary. Tourists who are interested in adventure come to Clyde River for mountain climbing, particularly in nearby Sam Ford Fiord, which is world-famous for its vertical climbing walls. Outfitters will also take visitors by boat to visit the floe edge in the spring or the bowhead sanctuary during ice-free months.
As in many Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Clyde River, and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Northern Store offers “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques, etc. There is Interac at the Northern Store, with a limited cash supply. It is highly recommended that newcomers establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly since postal service can often be delayed when bad weather disrupts transportation.
Located on the shores of Davis Strait, marine wildlife is abundant in the area of the community, with polar bears, seals, and whales commonly hunted. Arctic char and small game are also found around the community, including ptarmigan, fox, hare, geese and ducks in season. Caribou can be found if one travels inland from the coast and sea birds inhabit many locations during the summer season, frequently breeding on cliffs.
The bowhead whale sanctuary designated in 2010 for the Isabella Bay Area is called Ninginganik National Wildlife Area (NWA). It is the largest NWA in Canada, measuring over 336 000 hectares. Located 120 km south of Clyde River, on the north-east coast of Baffin Island, the NWA includes the shoreline and islands of Isabella Bay and adjacent ocean out to 12 nautical miles from shore. The Inuktitut word ninginganiq translates roughly as “the place where fog sits.” It is the world’s first bowhead whale sanctuary and was established as part of a collaborative effort between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and the Government of Canada under the authority of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Winters in Clyde River are cold, with a daily average between -24ᵒC and -29.6ᵒC from December through to February, with days reaching a daily maximum above freezing only from June to September. The temperature almost never exceeds 8ᵒC. The “hottest” day on record for Clyde River was 22ᵒC. Average precipitation in a year is 52.6 mm of rain and 202.7 cm of snow. Blizzards are frequent during the winter months. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Clyde River are posted on the Environment Canada website.
People’s tolerance for cold varies with experience, but warm winter clothing is required for several months of every year. If you are moving to Nunavut, make sure you bring essential winter gear. Although you can sometimes purchase hand-made clothing, such as parkas and mitts from local seamstresses, their services are not always available, and commercial winter clothing and footwear may be in low supply in the local stores. Check- in with your principal or colleagues for their advice on practical winter gear to purchase and bring with you.
At 70 degrees latitude, Clyde River is above the Arctic Circle, in the land of midnight sun and polar night. The amount of daylight in the winter diminishes to nothing by the third week of November and it remains dark for about two months, until mid-January. The amount of daylight increases to 24 hours a day by the middle of May, and daylight is continuous for the next two and a half months until the end of July.
According to the 2011 Census, Clyde River has 195 occupied private dwellings, including 170 single detached houses, 10 semi-detached houses, and 15 row houses. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that about 20% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder is made up of employer-provided rental housing or public housing. As housing in Nunavut is in short supply, ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. There is a possibility that you may be required to share housing with another colleague. You should also ask about the appropriate housing insurance to acquire. If you have pets, the need for pet-friendly accommodation should be clearly indicated in any housing applications or documentation. You should also be aware that there is no veterinary service in Clyde River.
Water and sewage services, provided by the Hamlet, are supplied by trucked service. This means that you will have water and sewage tanks in the home, which are filled up and pumped out respectively on a regular schedule. Contact the Hamlet for details. People on trucked service need to be conscious of their level of water consumption, as supplementary fees may be charged if you require a special fill-up or pump-out. The Hamlet also provides a garbage pick-up service. Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and Aarruja Development Corporation is the local heating fuel provider. Qulliq Energy’s local power plant supplies electrical power. All telecommunications arrive in Nunavut via satellite. Telephone service is available only through NorthwesTel. There is currently no cellphone service available. Internet service is available from local service providers (Qiniq, NorthwesTel dial-up), with limited bandwidth capacity, or direct-to-home satellite (Xplornet), which requires special arrangements for satellite dish installation. Cable TV is provided by Aarruja Development Corporation and direct-to-home satellite TV by Bell Canada TV.
Local shopping and perishables are available from the Northern Store and the Aarruja Store. Snack food is available from the Qimmiqpik store, which also sells fabric. Snacks may also be purchased from Tap Snack when the proprietor is available. See the contact list for phone numbers. Basic fresh staples, such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, along with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year, although shortages can occur if supply planes are delayed by bad weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. “Country food” (wildlife hunted or fished for food), such as caribou, fish or seal is not usually sold in these stores, but if you are interested you can sample these delicious and nutritious foods at community feasts and may occasionally be able to obtain them from local hunters.
Food and supplies in Nunavut are generally expensive because of the added cost of shipping items north, despite the cost-of-living allowances paid by many employers, such as the Government of Nunavut’s Northern Allowance. Perishable items arrive by air freight, sea shipping lanes are open for only a brief period every year, and there are no highway links. Weather conditions also affect the arrival of planes, occasionally causing temporary shortages. If you have special dietary requirements (e.g., gluten-free, allergy-related, organic), you may wish to look into stocking up on particular supplies or identify sources that will ship north. You can find information about obtaining the food subsidies available for direct or personal orders under the Government of Canada’s Nutrition North program on its website. Many businesses will also ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Local residents can suggest favourite delivery methods and suppliers for food and supplies not available in the community.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift during the short shipping season, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies providing this service in Clyde River are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealift and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Clyde River is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as the Nursing Station) staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Clyde River has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to specialist and dentist visits. Regional services are provided through the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, with support from hospitals in Ottawa. Those requiring specialist treatment are frequently sent to Iqaluit or “south” depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint.
New residents of Nunavut are not immediately covered by Nunavut health care. You must be a resident of Nunavut for three months, with at least a one-year work contract, before you are eligible. You can download and complete the online Nunavut health card application form, and then mail the application form, together with the required documentation, to the Department of Health after your three-month residency. Applications are also available at the Health Centre. It is very important that you have a Nunavut health card, because although your previous provincial or territorial health card may still cover your health expenses, it may not cover expenses such as medevacs (emergency chartered plane out of your community). If you intend to have family members or friends that are not residents of Nunavut visiting you, it is highly advised that they purchase medical insurance for the duration of their visit to cover expenses not typically covered by their province and territory. Under your employer’s health care benefits package you may also receive benefits for expenses such as prescription drugs, dental services and eyeglasses. Check with your assigned Benefits Officer for details.
Pharmacies are located in Iqaluit, and although the Health Centre may supply some emergency prescriptions, the supplies on hand are limited. If you have a medical condition requiring ongoing prescriptions, you should make arrangements with a pharmacy to have your prescriptions sent to you; be prepared to allow plenty of time for your order to arrive, depending on the method sent and weather conditions.
Clyde River has a dental clinic. A dentist visits Clyde River on a rotational schedule. Demand to see the dentist is usually very high. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and dispensing eyeglasses. Check with the Health Centre for the availability of these services.
You can check online for more information about Nunavut’s health system.
Clyde River has airline service routed through Iqaluit with First Air and Canadian North. Service from Iqaluit is not necessarily daily, and can change seasonally, so check with the airlines for up-to-date scheduling. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites. Because the airline market in Nunavut is small and specialized, costs are very high. Even if your employer covers your initial relocation costs, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
The airport is several kilometres away from the Hamlet, so before arriving you should arrange transportation with local contacts or the local taxi service(s) available in the community. Most people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles in the summer.
The Clyde River Hamlet operates an arena, a community hall, a baseball diamond and a basketball court. The Hamlet recreation department runs weekly bingo games and sells Nevada tickets to collect money to give back to the community at Christmas time, so that all kids from 12 and under in the community receive a present. It also helps athletes to pay sports registration fees. The Piqsiit Hockey Club fund-raises through bingo games and teen dances so that it can cover the administration fees to hold hockey tournaments with teams from different communities and offer cash prizes. The club also volunteers to help the hockey players practise.
Clyde River has a public library, which is located in the Ilisaqsivik Society’s Family Resource Centre building. Contact the library for current hours. Hunting and fishing are important community activities. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for any necessary licenses or wildlife tags if you intend to participate in these activities.
Special events run by the Hamlet recreation department are held in the Community Hall or at the baseball diamond and often include games and contests (e.g., cake decorating, best-dressed in Inuit clothing, Miss Clyde River). Special days celebrated include Hamlet Day, Canada Day, Nunavut Day (July 9), Halloween, Christmas and New Year.
In 1999, a group in Arctic Bay decided to hold a sled dog race to celebrate the creation of Nunavut. The race was to include only Inuit sled dogs, using the traditional Inuit qamutiq (wooden sled) and a fan-style hitch. Dog team mushers from Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Igloolik and Hall Beach participated in the first race between these communities, which was called the North Baffin Quest. It has taken place regularly since then, and in 2012 was extensively covered by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Now called the Pangaggujjiniq Nunavut Quest, this is an important event for all the communities involved and is a celebration of traditional Inuit culture. You can find more information on the website.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Clyde River is a Restricted community, with an Alcohol Education Committee (AEC). This means that the AEC determines how alcohol is controlled and consumed in the community. The AEC is a community-based group created by regulation under the Liquor Act. The members are elected at the same time Hamlet councillors are elected. The committee’s mandate is to educate its community about how to prevent alcohol abuse. In general, the AEC controls and approves how much alcohol an individual can bring into the community. Contact the Hamlet Office for current information. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut, and you can also consult its website for more information about the system.