The Municipality of Chesterfield Inlet is located in Nunavut, just South of the Arctic Circle in Northern Canada. Chester’s history dates back to the mid-1800’s and was once Hudson’s Bay Company’s main supply centre for other posts in the area. The Hamlet is known as Igluligaarjuk, “Place with a few Thule houses”.
Named about 1749, after Philip Dormer (Stanhope), 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) who was the Secretary of State from 1746-48 and is the well known author of “Chesterfield’s Letters” and other works.
From the mid 1800’s to the beginning of this century, whalers visited the area regularly and often overwintered here. They counted on the local Inuit to hunt for them and to man their whale boats.
On August 23, 1929 the National Film Board of Canada produced a film documenting the arrival of the SS Beothic’s to Chesterfield Inlet. The film highlights the LS of Chesterfield Inlet on shore with a launch sailing past in foreground.
At Chesterfield Inlet, Inuit often gathered to seek employment or to trade goods. Until the 1950’s, Chesterfield Inlet was a major centre north of Churchill, MB. It was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s main supply centre for other posts in the area, the site of the largest RCMP barracks, the largest Roman Catholic mission in the eastern arctic, as well as the largest medical and education centre
In 1953 the National Film Board of Canada (ONF – NFB) documented a film story in Chesterfield Inlet: “In Celebration of Nunavut – Life On the Land”. The story depicts the history of the Inuit in the eastern arctic and Inuit traditions on the land.
In the 1960s, the territorial government began to establish and administer settlements across the north and to develop services in remote settlements in the Northwest Territory. The Chesterfield Inlet Settlement Office was established in the 1960s under the direction of the territorial government. The Chesterfield Inlet Housing Association followed in 1968 to assist with the development of housing in Chesterfield Inlet.
The Hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet was established April 1st, 1980, and formed an elected municipal government in Chesterfield Inlet in the Northwest Territory. The Municipality of Chesterfield Inlet was established to develop sustainable/economic and employment opportunities in Chesterfield Inlet, including infrastructure for the Hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet. This preceded the new Nunavut Territory created April 1st, 1999, as a result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
We recently completed an exciting booklet that shares a guided walking tour experience about the story of our ‘original’ Arctic community. A Journey Through Time takes you back to the early 20th century – our noble beginnings when the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Roman Catholic Mission established permanent operations at this location in 1911 – 1912. Travel through our history and then take a virtual walking tour of our community. More walking tour information including photos can be found here.
More details on our history is shared on the Chesterfield Inlet website at www.chesterfieldinlet.net/chester_then.htm