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Kuujjuaq is located in Quebec
Kuujjuaq is located in Canada
Coordinates (Hôtel de ville Katittavik, 400, chemin de l'Aéroport[1]): 58°06′24″N 68°23′55″W / 58.10667°N 68.39861°W / 58.10667; -68.39861Coordinates: 58°06′24″N 68°23′55″W / 58.10667°N 68.39861°W / 58.10667; -68.39861[2]
ConstitutedDecember 29, 1979
 • MayorTunu Napartuk
 • Federal ridingAbitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou
 • Prov. ridingUngava
 • Total385.70 km2 (148.92 sq mi)
 • Land292.72 km2 (113.02 sq mi)
 • Total2,754
 • Density9.4/km2 (24/sq mi)
 • Change (2011–16)
 • Dwellings
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
Postal code(s)
Area code(s)819

Kuujjuaq (Inuktitut: ᑰᔾᔪᐊᖅ, IPA: [kuːjːuɑq]) is the largest northern village (Inuit community) in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada with a population of 2,754 as of the Canada 2016 Census. It is the administrative capital of the Kativik Regional Government and lies on the western shore of the Koksoak River.

Kuujjuaq used to be known as Fort Chimo. Chimo is a mispronunciation of the Inuit phrase saimuuq, "Let's shake hands!" Early fur traders were often welcomed with this phrase which they adopted as the name of the trading post. It was also adopted by Canadian Combat Engineers. A fictional account of this naming is found in the novel Ungava by Robert Michael Ballantyne.



The first Europeans to have contact with local Inuit were Moravians. On August 25, 1811, after a perilous trip along the coasts of Labrador and Ungava Bay, Brother Benjamin Kohlmeister and Brother George Kmoch arrived at an Inuit camp on the east shore of the Koksoak River, a few kilometres downstream from the present-day settlement. Their aim was to convert "the Esquimaux to Christianity." According to the journal kept by Brother Kohlmeister, Inuit of the Koksoak River were very interested in having a Moravian mission in the area.

Around 1830, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), today a department store chain, started the fur trade business in Nunavik by establishing their first post on the east shore of the Koksoak River, about 5 km (3.1 mi) downstream from the present-day settlement. The post closed in 1842, then reopened in 1866. At that time, Inuit, as well as Montagnais and Naskapi, came to trade at the post.

The construction of a U.S. Air Force base (Crystal 1) (see Kuujjuaq Airport) in 1942 on the west shore of the Koksoak River, the site of today's settlement, and the occupation of the site by the American army between 1941 and 1945, sped up the development of the community. After the end of World War II, the United States turned the base over to the Canadian government. In 1948, a Catholic mission was established, followed by a nursing station, a school and a weather station. When the HBC moved upstream closer to the airstrips in 1958, it was followed by the remaining families that still lived across the river at Fort Chimo. In 1961, a co-operative was created.

Naval Radio Station Chimo, call sign CFI, was established in 1948 in support of the Canadian SUPRAD system (Supplementary Radio Activities). Construction of Direction Finding facilities began in 1948 with operations commencing in 1949. In 1950, the RCN and the USN formally agreed to coordinate and standardize HF/DF activities ashore. Jointly, it was called the Atlantic HF/DF Network and Chimo was part of it.

Due to the difficulty and high cost of servicing this base, it was shut down and the facilities were moved to Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island in late summer, 1952.

Since 1996, police services in the Kativik region, including Kuujjuaq, are provided by the Kativik Regional Police Force (KRPF). The headquarters of the KRPF are located in Kuujjuaq.


Kuujjuaq lies 48 km (30 mi) upstream from Ungava Bay. Life in this community involves a close relationship with the river. Its tides regularly change the local landscape, while their rhythm strongly influences the traditional summer activities.

Although the tree line is very close, the boreal forest is present around Kuujjuaq. Patches of black spruce and larch stand in marshy valleys. Kuujjuaq also witnesses annual migrations of the George River caribou herd. These animals pass through the region throughout August and September.


With ocean access and two runways at the Kuujjuaq Airport, Kuujjuaq is the transportation hub of the entire region. The Avataq cargo ship delivers cargo once a year, and a new beach port has been built north of the town.[5] There are no roads to outside the region, but there have been proposals floated by regional and provincial officials to build a road link from the south, linking to the Trans-Taïga Road and also providing access to Schefferville.

Pitakallak School serves students from kindergarten to grade 3. Jaanimmarik School[6] serves students from grade 4 to secondary 5. The village boasts a number of hotels, restaurants, stores, arts and crafts shops and a bank.

Notable people[edit]


Kuujjuaq has a very cold subarctic climate,[7] not far above the polar climate, but avoids that classification due to the temperate summers with daily means of above 10 °C (50 °F).[8] Winters are severely cold but by no means extreme by the standards for its latitude within Eastern Canada. By contrast, relatively continental Scandinavian locations on similar latitudes have winter means some 20 °C (36 °F) to 25 °C (45 °F) milder than Kuujjuaq, this depending on location and month. In the extremely maritime Scottish town of Thurso the difference is even greater with a 27 °C (49 °F) difference in January and February going by the 1981–2010 reference period. The same differences also occur in Faroese capital Tórshavn that is 3° latitude farther north compared to Kuujjuaq.

The causation for the extreme swings is the effect of the Hudson Bay to its west freezing in November. This eliminates maritime moderation from westerlies that are prevalent in moderating summer temperatures. With Hudson Bay effectively becoming a landmass during the winter, Kuujjuaq ends up being subject to severely cold winds. With the Labrador Current to its south-east also being cold, similar to on similar latitudes in Far East Russia, winter moderation is eliminated to its east as well. Although less snowfall is received compared to the more coastal Nain further south, the influence of the current contributes to a sizeable snow tally for a climate that cold. In June, Hudson Bay thaws, resulting in mild maritime air from the cold water moderating westerlies. In spite of this, Kuujjuaq being situated with a direct landmass link to its south for thousands of kilometres can contribute to warm southerlies reaching the settlement, bringing temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F).

During fall, Kuujjuaq's diurnal temperature variation is at its lowest, as the maritime moderation is at its strongest. Simultaneously, the Hudson Bay freezing process begins as cold builds up over the vast landmasses surrounding the bay. This renders Kuujjuaq to commonly get ice days throughout October, before winter begins in November and proceeds to the end of April. Unlike Inukjuak directly on the Hudson Bay shore, Kuujjuaq still has a greater continental warmth impact on its summers, and is as a result below the tree line. Kuujjuaq has a cloudy climate, as a result of the Icelandic Low influence.

Kuujjuaq has been strongly affected by global warming in recent decades, similar to other Arctic locations. As a result, months way above historical normals have been recorded. For example, December 2010 had an average high of −3 °C (27 °F), a −4 °C (25 °F) average high was measured for March 2018.[9][10] Summer has also been affected, with a 20 °C (68 °F) average high for June 2012 and a 21 °C (70 °F) average high month happened during August 2014.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b c Geographic code 99095 in the official Répertoire des municipalités (in French)
  2. ^ Reference number 92769 of the Commission de toponymie du Québec (in French)
  3. ^ "(Code 2499095) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012.
  4. ^ "(Code 2499095) Census Profile". 2016 census. Statistics Canada. 2017.
  5. ^ "Mighty Ships: Avataq". Mighty Ships. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  6. ^ Jaanimmarik School
  7. ^ "Kuujjuaq, Québec Climate Summary". Weatherbase. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Kuujjuaq Québec Canada Temperature Averages". Weatherbase. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Decembre 2010 à Kuujjuaq" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Mars 2018 à Kuujjuaq" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Juin 2012 à Kuujjuaq" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Août 2014 à Kuujjuaq" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Kuujjuaq Airport". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved November 6, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bissonnette, Alain, and Serge Bouchard. The Kuujjuaq Population's Point of View on the Social and Economic Repercussions of the Caniapiscau Cut-Off on Their Hunting and Fishing Activities. [S.l.]: Société d'énergie de la baie James, Engineering and Environment Dept., Caniapiscau-Koksoak Joint Study Group, 1984.
  • Canada. Kuujjuaq. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Atmospheric Environment Service, 1985. ISBN 0-660-52596-8
  • Canada. Fort Chimo Airport. Hourly data summaries, no. 62. Toronto, Ont: Climatology Division, Meteorological Branch, Dept. of Transport, 1968.
  • Chabot, Marcelle. Socio-economic status and food security of low-income households in Kuujjuaq research report. Kuujjuac, Quebec: Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services?], 2004.
  • Cooper, Willie. Souvenirs d'un Kuujjuamiut = Memories of a Kuujjuamiut. Publication of the Documentation Center on Inuit History, 1. Inukjuak, Nunavik: Avataq Cultural Institute, 1988.
  • Mesher, Dorothy, and Ray H. Woollam. Kuujjuaq Memories and Musings. Duncan, B.C.: Unica Pub. Co, 1995. ISBN 0-920649-06-8
  • Poirier, Glenn Gerard. Structure and Metamorphism of the Eastern Boundary of the Labrador Trough Near Kuujjuaq, Quebec, and Its Tectonic Implications. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1990. ISBN 0-315-52237-2
  • Boutin, Gilles. Les aurores boréales Québec-Nunavik. Quebec 2010. ISBN 978-2-89634-053-8
  • R M Ballantyne Ungava: A Tale of the Eskimos' Land (1857). ISBN 978-1-934554-23-4

External links[edit]