Gjoa Haven (Ursuqtuq)


68°38’N, 95°52’ W. Elevation 45.7 m at the airstrip. 141.6 air km SW of Spence Bay, 1 056 air km NE of Yellowknife, in the Kitikmeot Region.


Limestone lowlands covered by sands and gravels.


Average annual precipitation: 5.1 cm rainfall, 25.4 cm snowfall, 8.4 cm total precipitation. July mean high 23.9 °C, low 7.2 °C. January mean high -23.3 °C, low -49.4 °C. Light winds N.


Roald Amundsen, the first person to actually navigate the Northwest Passage, wintered on King William Island in “the finest little harbour in the world,” which he called Gjoa Haven after his ship, the Gjoa. In 1927, the Hudson’s Bay company moved its post from Douglas Bay to Gjoa Haven. Most of the people follow a hunting/trapping lifestyle, with handicrafts, particularly distinctive wall hangings, also providing a source of income.


  • Population: June 1981, 523; 1986 census, 650; June 1988 GNWT estimate, 706; 1991 census, 783.
  • 1986 sex distribution: 51% male, 49% female.
  • 1986 age distribution: 0-4, 16%; 5-14, 29%; 15-64, 53%, 65+, 2%
  • 1987 ethnic distribution: 0% Dene/Metis, 96% Inuit, 4% non-native.
  • Languages spoken: Inuktitut, English.

Political Organization

  • Hamlet status, April 1, 1981
  • Mayor: Urlash Puqiqnak
  • Senior Administrative Officer: Greg Morash
  • Hamlet office: (403) 360-7141; fax (403) 360-6309
  • MLA John Ningark (Natilikmiot)


Major activities -- Hunting, fishing; carving/handicrafts.

Banks -- None. Co-ops: Kekertak Co-operative Association Limited.

Renewable Resources --
Fish: Arctic Char, Whitefish, Lake Trout;
Marine mammals: Ringed Seal, Harbour Seal, Bearded Seal, Beluga, Narwhal, Walrus;
Game: Caribou, Fox, Wolf, Polar Bear, Muskox; Quotas: Caribou, 60; Muskox, 50; Polar Bear, 9-14.
Total number of trappers (1987-88): 67
Total dollars earned: $30 000
Renewable Resources Officer: Luke Coady
Other Renewable Resources: Caribou antler (carving material)

Non-renewable Resources -- Minerals: nothing known

Tourism --arts and crafts: wall hangings, bone artifacts, carvings

Prices and Income -- Private Households Average Income, 1985: $27 448. Food prices, 1987: 82% higher than Yellowknife.

Local Businesses -- In addition to those listed above: Taxis, general retail, food, recreational vehicles, translation services, hotels, outfitters, vehicle rentals


Airport Operator: Hamlet of Gjoa Haven (GNWT)
Airport Facilities: Licensed 1 341 m x 30 m gravel runway including taxiway and apron; Airfield lighting consisting of medium intensity runway edge, identification, end and threshold lights, ARCAL, VASIS, lighted wind sock, rotating beacon, apron floodlights and taxi/apron edge lights; Navaid - NDB; air terminal building.
Services: Community Airport Radio Station (CARS) - Weather/Communications; Scheduled airfield maintenance; Aircraft parking plugs.
Scheduled Service: First Air Ltd. via Cambridge Bay/Yellowknife and Iqaluit.
Water Aerodrome: Unlicensed float plane access with anchorage available but no services.
Water Aerodrome Location: 68 37’ N, 95 53’W. Elevation: 00.

Co-op Taxi, Klengenberg Taxi, Tomag Taxi Service to Airport

Barge service: operator, NTCL from Hay River. One voyage only unless traffic in July warrants it.


  • Postal Code: X0E 0J0. Mail three times a week
  • Telephone: NorthwesTel (Anik), local and long distance.
  • Radio: CBC Radio (Anik)
  • Television: CBC Television (Anik).

Medical/Social Services

  • Community Health Centre: four beds, two bassinets, two cribs
  • Medical staff: five persons
  • Social Services Facilities: two person Community Social Services Office


  • School: Quqshuun Ilihakvik Centre, K-9; Student Enrolment (1988-89): 196; Teachers: 10; Local Education Authority: Gjoa Haven Education Council.
  • Vocational and Continuing Education: Adult education centre, one resident adult educator

Housing and Accommodation

  • NWT Housing Corporation units (1989): 105
  • HAP housing allocations 1980-89: 9
  • GNWT staff housing units: 19 houses
  • Commercial accommodation: Amundsen Hotel, accommodates 18, shared bath, dining room.

Recreation and Culture

Community hall. Playground, playfield, school gym. Active Recreation Committee.