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A Visitor's Guide to Cambridge Bay

A Visitor's Guide to Cambridge Bay

From Mount Pelly to the burger named after it
By Herb Mathisen
Feb 01
From the February 2015 Issue

Where to stay

Inns North’s Arctic Islands Lodge offers 25 standard rooms, and one executive suite. It also boasts two meeting rooms and the town’s only restaurant. Green Row Executive Suites offers comfort and convenience with two-bedroom suites that include a flat-screen TV with satellite, free WiFi, washer and drier and kitchen amenities. Enokhok Inn & Suites has hotel rooms or executive suites. Guests have access to a shared kitchen and the option for private or shared bathrooms.Watch for a new bed and breakfast, offering tundra views, opening up soon.

Where to eat

The Arctic Islands Lodge, a 50-plus seat cafeteria-style restaurant, serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner and is the town’s only dedicated, sit-down restaurant. The Mount Pelly burger is a favourite. Salma’s Kitchen, appropriately named because the meals are made in Salma Easmin’s home kitchen, offers many Bangladeshi meal options for take-out. Easmin asks that you call at least two hours in advance to place your order. The chicken masala is worth braving a blizzard for. In a rush or have a craving for some fast food? The Quick Stop sells a limited KFC and Pizza Hut menu out of the Northern Store building.

If you want to cook something yourself, visit the Ikaluktutiak Co-op or the Northern Store grocery stores during regular daytime hours. Kalgen’s Dis & Dat Convenience or Olapkivik Games Hall have late-night snacks, if you missed the grocery stores.

The local Elks Club opens its doors on Friday nights and is the only place in town to get a beer. Keep an eye out for a new restaurant in town, rumoured to be opening in a hotel operated by Inukshuk Enterprises

Two women buy some necessities at Dis and Dat Convenience. Photo by Herb Mathisen

Where to shop

If you’d like to sample the local flavour—or bring some Arctic char or muskox home with you—visit Kitikmeot Foods, which processes and sells locally harvested Arctic char, done a variety of ways.

If it’s a carving, mukluks or gloves you seek, head to the Arctic Coast Visitors Centre, which sells wares from local artisans. So does the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre, with its vibrant murals and detailed exhibitions, located in the high school. The Co-op sells artwork too.

What to do

Wander down to the shore of Cambridge Bay. In the spring and summer, take advantage of the 24-hour daylight to do some hiking, fishing, kayaking or canoeing. Visit the cabins in the West Arm, where you might see Arctic char drying out on a rack. In winter, watch kite-skiers take advantage of the winds on the bay. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the curling rink, hockey rink and swimming pool. Play some pool, pinball or air hockey at the Olapkivik Games Hall.Or try your luck at the Many Pebbles Municipal Golf Course: a rocky and rustic nine-hole course near the West Arm. Pebble Beach this is not.

The region is a destination for birders: snowy owls, King Eiders, Long-tailed Jaegers, and tundra swans are some of what you'll see. As for wildlife, Arctic fox, muskox, caribou, wolverines and even grizzly and polar bears roam the area.

Visit the Heritage Centre in the high school or the Visitors Centre to learn more about Inuit culture and traditions, the history and the many peoples who have passed through the region over the years.

Walk to Mount Pelly, an esker roughly 13 kilometres from town, which at over 600 feet high provides for a great view of Cambridge Bay and the surrounding area. It is also a site of cultural significance, with many artifacts found around the mountain and Inuit legends associated with it.

Across the bay in Old Town, you'll find a restored stone church. Check out the wreck of The Maud, built for famed Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen. The ship sank in the bay in 1930. But you’d better hurry: it might be gone by the end of the summer. A Norwegian tug and barge are currently docked in town and will attempt to raise the ship to bring it back to Norway. If you miss it, visit The Eagle, abandoned on shore in 1954.

Suki Hogaluk, 16, shoots some pool at the Olapkivik Games Hall. Photo by Herb Mathisen