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Pangnirtung: Pannirtuuq “The Place of Bull Caribou”

Long before non-Inuit arrived, the Cumberland Sound area was home to Inuit and their predecessors, the Thule and Dorset cultures. In fact, the Cumberland Sound has been home to a large population since the earliest times of human habitation in the Arctic.

The first European known to have explored this area was John Davis in 1585. He was searching for the fabled Northwest Passage. In 1838, a Scottish whaler named William Penny and his guide Eenooloapik discovered the entrance to Cumberland Sound. This led to a rush of Scottish and American bowhead whalers.

The Inuit way of life began to change at this point. By late 1850, many Inuit left their traditional camps to work at the whaling stations at Nuvuyen (on the south coast of Cumberland Sound) and Kekerten Island (on the North coast of the Sound).

According to local legend, a man named Attagoyuk gave the Community its name. Today, the local High School is named in his honour.

In 1921, The Hudson Bay Company built a trading post in Pangnirtung which began to attract Inuit to the area. Two years later, in 1923, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.) built their first detachment. In 1929, St. Luke’s Mission Hospital was established.

The population of Pangnirtung was quite small until the early 1960’s. In 1962, many of the Inuit living on Cumberland Sound moved to Pangnirtung after a distemper epidemic killed most of their sled dogs. That same year, the Federal Government established their first administrative office in the community.

In 1973, Pangnirtung became a self governing municipal government. Today, Pangnirtung is a vibrant community known world-wide for its carvings, tapestries and prints and world class scenery as well as its access to Auyuittuq National Park.

Pangnirtung is one of only three Nunavut Communities with a fish processing plant and a robust Arctic Char and Greenlandic Turbot Fishery. As such, Pangnirtung became the first community in Nunavut to obtain funding to construct a small craft Harbour.