By GungHo Travels Staff
Lead photo courtesy of Miled Reflections
The fun thing about travel is that no matter what you’ve seen or how far you’ve been, there will always be something you had no idea was out there.
Exhibit A: In Canada’s Northwest Territories, there is a little town of just 3,500 people called Inuvik that is home to a locally-famous landmark known as The Igloo Church.
It’s official name is Our Lady of Victory, which may sound familiar as there is a famous Parisian church with the same moniker — the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is nearly as tall as it is wide with the building reaching just 75 ft. in diameter at it’s base, and the copula at it’s peak rising to 68 ft. Designed by a local Catholic missionary, named Brother Maurice Larocque, the church began construction by volunteer workers in 1958, however due to the harsh weather conditions it took nearly two years to complete. The hard work paid off and the Igloo Church has faithfully housed the local congregation ever since. Over time, it became the most popular tourist attraction in Inuvik and celebrated it’s 50th anniversary a few years back in 2010.
Inside the Igloo Church – In-copy church photos by Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Where is Inuvik? 124 miles north of the Arctic Circle. In the summer, you can access it via the Dempster Highway, from the Yukon’s Dawson City.
But where exactly is the Igloo Church? 180 Mackenzie Rd Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0
What else can you see in Inuvik?
Wildlife – They have tourist warnings for both grizzly bears and black bears. You’ll also be in close proximity to the home of the barren land grizzly, Aklavik, Canada. Living near Inuvik are also herds of caribou that are so large, it has to be seen to be believed. You’ll also find golden eagles fishing on nearby the rivers when not frozen over. The warmest month of the year is July and that is also when the rivers are are at maximum flow.
Each December there are 30 days of consecutive darkness with only a small reflection from the sun that locals refer to as winter glow. This is what it looked like at noon on December 24th:
A short flight away is Tuktut Nogait National Park, which features breathtaking arctic landscapes and wildlife. Those attempting to make the 303 mile drive into the park from Inuvik will need to cross privately-owned, indigenous Inuvialuit lands and must get prior permission by the Inuvialuit Land Administration to do so. Tuktut Nogait National Park is about as wild as it gets and permits and registration are required no matter how you choose to enter the park to help ensure your safety. Peak season is June-August.
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen from September to March and Inivik is a place to reliably view them. They can often be seen for up to fifteen minutes at a time from the hours between 6pm-1am.
Have you ever been to Inuvik? Do you call Inuvik home? Tell us about everyday life living next to the Arctic Circle and what local sites you’d recommend to travelers.