Coral Harbour, in Inuktitut Salliq meaning ‘large flat island in front of the mainland’ is located on Southampton Island at the north end of Hudson Bay. It has been a traditional meeting place for Inuit since 500 BC because of the abundance of marine life and migratory birds. It is the base for the best walrus and whale viewing at nearby Coats Island.
The community is fiercely proud of their way of life, and continues to be one of the most traditional economies and cultures in Nunavut, dependent on hunting a fishing. The locals will show you that Inuit culture is not only a historical one, but a modern and thriving one as well. Essential experiences include:
- Visiting local Parks - the Fossil Creek Trail, Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and the East Bay Migratory Birds Sanctuary
- Trekking to Coats Island to soak in the spectacular sea mammals- walrus, whales
- Exploring the modern roots of the community through the original buildings at the base
- Visiting traditional and contemporary artists making unique art
The Coral Harbour area has long been an important meeting place for Inuit, as it is home to an amazing variety and abundance of sea mammals. There are numerous archeological sites in the area that indicate that people have inhabited the area around Coral Harbour on Southampton Island since 500 BC.
European explorers and whalers have been visiting the area since 1613. The contact between Europeans and Inuit led to a strong entrepreneurial spirit amongst local people. The modern community of Coral Harbour was formed after the Hudson’s Bay Company opened a trading post in 1924. During WWII, the American military constructed an air base at Coral Harbour as a part of the ‘Crimson Route’- a string of air bases used to ferry aircraft from the United States to Europe. The remains of the base can still be seen around the community’s airport.
Today the community remains a strong and vibrant one, with an economy centred on arts and crafts, tourism and hunting. Local outfitters provide some of the best wildlife viewing in the Arctic including walruses, polar bears, whales and migratory birds.
The flat, sandy island is filled with fossils, plants, and animals. Wildlife is readily accessible by numerous trails and roads. A road from Coral Harbour extends 80 kms from the community providing a uniquely accessible arctic experience.
Local parks include: The Fossil Creek Trail, Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and the East Bay Migratory Birds Sanctuary.
The Fossil Creek area has long been admired for its assortment of fossils, including the petrified remains of many creatures that lived 450 million years ago.
Communities in Nunavut have the right to determine their Liquor System. In this community it is illegal to import, purchase, possess, consume or transport any amount of alcohol within the community or surroundings. Violation of these restrictions may result in fines and/or charges.
You can read more about these restrictions here: https://www.nulc.ca/liquor/