Let's start our look at Baffin Island beyond Iqaluit with a comment on just how big it is, and how unique the landscape is. Baffin is a lot bigger than you might think. It's the fifth largest island in the world, from tip to tip it's longer than the entire west coast of the United States, from San Diego to Vancouver. and its landscape is very different from the rest of the Arctic, which is mostly low gently rolling tundra. Here it's mountains, glaciers and icebergs.
The east side of Baffin Island is part of the spectacular Baffin Mountain range, the highest peak of which, Mount Odin is higher than the highest peak of the Appalachians. Mount Thor (in the distance on the left above) is said to have the highest vertical cliff on earth at over 4000 feet straight up (or down)! Inlets along the central coast are spectacular fjords, with mountains rising directly from the water, while glaciers pour down the valleys from icecaps above. This all makes cruises along this coast very appealing. We are beyond the treeline here, so there are no trees.
So a tour touching on Baffin Island is bound to come with some spectacular scenery and it also provides us with a way to introduce you to more Arctic towns. This tour, from Polar Dream Travel visits Kinngait, the former Cape Dorset, perhaps the best known centre for Inuit art, particularly print-making.
The world famous reputation of Cape Dorset is built on a print-making studio created by southern artist James Houston who arrived in 1957 and encouraged local stone carvers to try stone-block printing, Based on the original drawings by local artists thousands of prints have been sold, all over the world. Today Kinngait as it is now known, has the highest density of artists of any community in Canada, with nearly 25% of the population employed in the arts sector.
Pitseolak Ashoona and Kenojuak Ashevsak are among the pioneers of Inuit art here. One of Ashevak's prints recently sold for $60,000.00! The stained glass window she designed for the chapel at Appleby College in Oakville (above) is a beautiful illustration of Inuit art, featuring the owl and the Arctic Char. The colours just blow me over! Nuna Parr is internationally known for his stone carving (below). Many others contribute to Kinngait being the 'Capital of Inuit Art' today. You can fine many artists represented at Kinngait Studios, the former West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.
The map below shows a cruise from One Ocean that takes you looping up the spectacular east coast of Baffin Island from Iqaluit all the way north. Some spots on the map, like Monumental Island, are not towns but other sights of interest.