Nanisivik (Nanisivik)


73°02’N, 84°33’ W. Elevation varies from 639.5 m at the airstrip to sea level at the harbour. 27 air km W of Arctic Bay, 1 280 air km NW of Iqaluit, in the Baffin Region. On the south shore of Strathcona Sound.


Bordered by very steep sedimentary cliffs and bluffs. A small area of grasses in the townsite and a few small patches of lichens are the only vegetation present.


Average annual precipitation: 5.8 cm rainfall, 83.7 cm snowfall, 14.4 cm total precipitation. July mean high 10.1 °C, low 2.1 °C. January mean high -25.8 °C, low -33.5 °C. Winds N-NW at 24 km/h, but gusts of up to 125 km/h can occur.


Historically, the Nanisivik area has never been inhabited by the Inuit. It is generally devoid of wildlife, and vegetation is unusually scarce for this region of the Arctic. The first recorded exploration was by Admiral Parry in 1820. Captain Adams visited the area in 1872. In 1937, J.F. Tibbett and F. McInnes staked the first claims to the mineral deposits at Strathcona Sound. In 1974, an agreement was signed by mineral Resources International and the Government of Canada which permitted a mine to open. The townsite was then developed as part of an industrial complex to mine the silver/lead/zinc deposit. Today the mine employs Inuit as well as southern workers on a rotation system. In 1979, the community was the site of the world’s farthest north marathon running event, now an annual event.


  • Population: June 1981, 261; 1986 census, 315; June 1988 GNWT estimate, 317; 1991 census, 294.
  • 1986 sex distribution: 57% male, 43% female.
  • 1986 age distribution: 0-4, 9%; 5-14, 24%; 15-64, 67%, 65+, 0%
  • 1987 ethnic distribution: 0% Dene/Metis, 39% Inuit, 61% non-native.
  • Languages spoken: English, Inuktitut, French.

Political Organization

  • No settlement status.
  • Contact: Government Liaison Officer, Nanisivik, (819) 436-7404; fax (Mine) (819) 436-7435
  • MLA Levi Barnabas (High Arctic)


Major activities -- Mining

Banks -- None.

Renewable Resources --
Fish: Arctic Char;
Game: Caribou, Arctic Fox, Wolf;

Non-renewable Resources -- Minerals: cadmium, lead, silver, zinc. Nanisivik Mines Ltd. - underground operation.

Prices and Income -- Private Households Average Income, 1985: $65 516. Food prices, 1987: 71% higher than Yellowknife.

Local Businesses -- In addition to those listed above: General retail, food, vehicle rentals.


Air (Take-offs and landings, 1988-89: 598)
Airport Operator: Transport Canada
Airport Facilities: Licensed 1951 m x 46 m gravel runway; taxiway and apron; Airfield lighting consisting of runway/taxi/apron edge lights; runway, identification, end, approach and threshold lights, apron floodlights. ARCAL, VASIS, lighted wind sock, and rotating beacon; Navaids - NDB; Air terminal building.
Services: Community Airport Radio Station (CARS) - Weather/Communications: Scheduled airfield maintenance; Crash firefighting and rescue services.
Scheduled Service: Canadian North via Montreal/Iqaluit; Kenn Borek Air via Resolute.

27 km road connecting Arctic Bay to Nanisivik. All weather road.

Eastern Arctic Sealift; Barge service: operator, Transport Canada from Montreal.


  • Postal Code: X0A 0X0. Mail twice a week
  • Telephone: Bell Telephone (Anik), local and long distance.
  • Radio: CBC FM feed from Toronto
  • Television: CBC Television (English and French)

Medical/Social Services

  • Community Health Centre: four beds, one bassinet, two cribs
  • Medical staff: two person
  • Social Services: from Arctic Bay
  • Other: Day care centre run by Nanisivik Mines Ltd.


  • School: Allurut, K-9; Student Enrolment (1988-89): 54; Teachers: 3; Local Education Authority: Nanisivik Education Council.
  • Vocational and Continuing Education: Adult Education Centre, resident adult educator, Arctic College extension program.

Housing and Accommodation

  • NWT Housing Corporation units (1989): 15
  • GNWT staff housing units: 15 houses

Recreation and Culture

Nanisivik Community club: Gym, swimming pool. Nanisivik Community Library. recreation Manager. Annual Midnight Sun marathon - July 1st weekend.