GJOA HAVEN (Nuvanut)
King William Island’s flat coastal terrain holds only one settlement. Although the area around Gjoa Haven had already been used by the Netsilik Inuit, the Scandinavian name was given to it by Amundsen during his crossing of the Northwest Passage when he overwintered for two years with his ship Gjøa in the natural harbor on King William Island’s southeastern side. 250 kilometers above the Arctic Circle the average temperature hovers around 0 degrees Celsius in September. Amundsen’s presence (with a ship full of interesting supplies specifically brought for trade) attracted Netsilik from camps in the vicinity. The Netsilik had been here at Usqsuqtuuq -meaning “place of plenty blubber”- because of the fat fish and sea mammals in nearby waters. In 1927 the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a trading post and the community has grown from then on. Today some 1,500 predominantly Inuit inhabitants live in Gjoa Haven. There is a path connecting several sites forming the Northwest Passage Territorial Trail, including the Heritage Centre, the Hamlet Centre where one can learn about the early European explorers and their fate, and places used by Amundsen. Artifacts relating to Franklin’s expedition were found near Gjoa Haven and the wrecks of his two ships Erebus and Terror have recently been located not too far away.
Although there are some muskoxen and caribou on the island, a different attraction for some is a nine-hole golf course, known to be Nunavut’s most northerly.