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Arctic Post Offices in Canada


In 2009 I undertook an effort to acquire a cancel from every active Canadian post office north of the Arctic Circle. Also in 2009, Canada Post issued two commemoratives related to the polar regions: The Polar Bear and Arctic Tern from the "Preserve the Polar Regions" joint issue and the Robert Bartlett stamp commemorating his 1909 expedition to the North Pole. Perfect stamps to have on covers from Canada's arctic region.

I started with a google map and using location data from wikipedia and post office address info obtained from the Canada Post website, I was able to come up with this map:


View Canadian Arctic Post Offices in a larger map

Addresses and information for each of the post offices is contained in this map. Just click on the map "pins".

Most of these post offices are very small, serving tiny communities scattered across the vast reaches of the Canadian northern territories. Acquiring cancellations of "philatelic" quality is somewhat hit or miss. These post offices are staffed by Post Masters who are not necessarily accustomed to dealing with philatelic requests. Even so, I received many covers with cancels that were surprisingly well done. My favorites are displayed below:




Yukon

Old Crow

Old Crow has the only active post office in the Yukon above the Arctic Circle. Most of its nearly 300 inhabitants are part of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and rely on local caribou herds to sustain them. Mail flows in and out of Old Crow through its airport: a vital transportation link as there are no roads connecting Old Crow to other communities. The post office at Old Crow has been active since 1959.

Northwest Territories

Tuktoyaktuk

Tuk as it is commonly known, was formally called "Port Brabant", is an Inuvialuit village of nearly 900 inhabitants that lies on the shore the Arctic Ocean. The post office here was first opened in 1948. The community is accessible from neighbouring Inuvik via a small airport and winter ice roads.

Aklavik

Aklavik was once the main transportation hub and commercial center of the Arctic. Today with a population of 600, it is still a thriving community. Aklavik Was once the administrative center for the region but the area was prone to flooding so Inuvik was established to the East to replace Aklavik. But several residents remained behind and maintained the community. It is accessible by ice road from Inuvik in the winter and has a small airport. There has been a post office here since 1922.

Colville Lake

Is a tiny traditional Sahtú Dene settlement of about 150 on the shore of Colville Lake. It is serviced by a small airport and water aerodrome. As small as it is, the community manages to maintain a school, tourist lodge, bed and breakfast, two stores and obviously, a post office.

Fort McPherson

Fort McPherson is a village of almost 800, located on the Dempster highway south of Inuvik. It boasts a large aboriginal community with a small number of Inuit residents. Roads connecting it with Dawson City and Whitehose in Yukon make it accessible year round. The community is also serviced by a small airport and water aerodrome. There has been a permanent post office here since 1923.

Inuvik

Inuvik is a large (for the arctic) community of 3600 people in the far north west corner of NWT. The town was built in the 1950's to become the administrative center of the region. You can actually drive to Inuvik as it sits at the north end of the Dempster Highway. From here, in the winter when the ground and water is frozen solid, it is possible to drive furher north to the shore fo the Arctic Ocean. Inuvik is home to Canada's most northern mosque.

Nunavut

Arctic Bay

Arctic Bay is an Inuit community of almost 700, situated on the Northern part of Baffin Island. Arctic Bay has its own small airport but air services into the area are carried out through the nearby Nanisivik Airport which remains operational even though Nanisivik was abandoned a few years ago. There has been a post office here since 1970.

Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay is home to almost 1500 residents, most of which are Inuit. Its location makes it a prime stop over for vessels navigating the Northwest Passage. The nearby military radar site has helped to boost the economy in the region. The post office has been in operation here since 1959.

Eureka

Founded in 1947 and described as the garden spot of the arctic due to the high density of flora and fauna that can be found in the area, Eureka is the second northern most research station in the world. The base consists of an airport, a weather station and research laboratory and is permanently staffed on a rotating basis by scientists and military personnel. Postal services have existed at the base since it was established in 1947.

Grise Fiord

Grise Fiord is the northern most civilian settlement in North America. It is home to about 150 residents. The community was established in 1953 when the Canadian government relocated a number Inuit families from Northern Quebec in an attempt to establish a permanent settlement in the arctic. The families were misled into believing the government would provide a better life for them. In 1993 a settlement of $10 million was paid to the survivors of the original settlers, but no apology was issued.

Kugarruk

Formally known as Pelly Bay, Kugarruk is a traditional Inuit community, home to 700 residents. The people here led a nomadic lifestyle up until the late 60's. Despite its isolation and having a population made up almost entirely of Inuit, the Inuktitut language is on the decline here with English becoming more predominant. There has been a post office here since 1971.

Kugluktuk

Kugluktuk, formally known as Coppermine, sits on the shore of the Arctic Ocean in the far west corner of Nunavut. It is home to 1300 residents. There has been an active post office here since 1934.


The covers on this page are the best of the bunch I received during 2009. In general, bilingual rectangular cancels, particularly those from Nunavut, always seemed to be placed completely over the stamps. And several covers with the Barlett commemorative turned out illegible. Even so, they all have a place in my collection.




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