A Little History

 The traditional inhabitants of the Taloyoak (pronounced "ta-low-ywak") area were the Netsilik Inuit, the Netsilingmiut, a people largely sustained by the abundance of seals in the region, which provided their main source of food and clothing. Netsilik are considered the "people of the seal."

The search for the Northwest Passage has played an important role in the contemporary history of the Taloyoak region. The first significant European exploration here occurred between 1829 and 1833, when Sir John Ross and his crew combed the area after their ship became trapped in ice. Between 1848 and 1860, the area was visited extensively by British and American sailors searching for the lost Franklin expedition.

The foundation of the modern community began in 1948, when poor ice conditions forced the Hudson's Bay Co. to close its trading post at Fort Ross on the south coast of Somerset Island, some 250 kilometres north of Taloyoak. The post was relocated to its present location at Stanners Harbour, and Taloyoak - then known as Spence Bay - was born.

Shortly after the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Co. post, the RCMP arrived. They were followed by Catholic and Anglican missionaries in the early 1950s. These entities formed the nucleus of the burgeoning community, which grew as the federal government encouraged Inuit to settle in Spence Bay. In Taloyoak today, traditional activities such as hunting and trapping remain a prominent part of everyday life. These activities are supplemented by carving, crafts production, and wage employment, which combine to provide a lifestyle balanced between old and new.

The nomadic way of life is no more.  And life on the land is now no more then a camping trip that some do in spring and summer.  

Courtesy of George Bohlender


The trading post that is now the Community of Taloyoak was built in 1947.   Within a few years, most Inuit were living in southern style house with central heating and electricity.  Now, fifty years later, Taloyoak, except for the isolation, is not much different from most southern towns.  Large satalite dishes bring in cable TV and internet services.  First Air flies in and out of town six days each week.   Netsilik school is as modern  as you will find anyplace, and its teachers are no less qualified than in most southern schools.  

Most of  our parents still speak the ancient Inuktitut language but many have learned English as well.  Only the very youngest students  are taught in their native language.  Before they get out of Primary grades, they are learning to read and write English.  Consequently, most of the people of Taloyoak are bilingual.   It is hoped that the native language will be taught in more grades in future so as to ensure its survival.  . Two of the problems are a shortage of bilingual teachers and too few resources in the Inuktitut language..

Our Town's name.......

The word taloyoak means "large caribou blind" in Inuktitut, and refers to a stone caribou blind traditionally used by Inuit of the area to corral and harvest caribou.


Taloyoak is part of Canada's newest territory, Nunavut, which came into being April 1, 1999.