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Iqaluit, Nunavut (Canada)


Last modified: 2019-12-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: iqaluit | nunavut | fish | mountain | ice sheet |
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[Iqaliut flag] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

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The following is adapted from the Iqaluit web site on the city history:

The area around Iqaluit was first explored by Martin Frobisher in 1576. Frobisher thought that he had discovered not only the Northwest Passage but also gold - and he was wrong in both cases.  It was not until 1861 that Charles Francis Hall discovered that Frobisher's straits was really a bay.

Commercial activity in the 1800's was centered around the whaling industry, but in the 20th century it shifted to fur trading, with the Hudson Bay Company opening its first trading post in the area in 1914 at Ward Inlet.  The fur industry collapsed in the 1930s.

In 1955, Frobisher Bay was settled as a center for construction of the DEW line and by 1959 Frobisher Bay became a permanent settlement.  In 1963, Frobisher Bay served as a base for the US Strategic Air Command, but in 1963 the US Air Force left and the town became a center for Canadian government operations in the eastern Arctic.

Local government began in June 1964 when the first community council was formed.  In 1970, Frobisher Bay became a "settlement" followed by status of a village (1974) and town (1980).  The first mayor was elected in 1979.  In 1987 the name was changed to Iqaluit (place of many fish, in Inuktitut).

The signing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993 resulted in the selection of Iqaluit to be the territorial capital in December, 1995.  On April 18, 2001, Iqaluit officially became a city.
Phil Nelson, 12 May 2005

Current Flag

Text and image(s) from Canadian City Flags, Raven 18 (2011), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) by permission of Eugene Ipavec.


The flag of the City of Iqaluit is a Canadian pale design of blue-white-blue with a device in the centre, consisting of a logo and inscriptions, over three-fourths the height of the flag. The logo comprises a stylized mountain of two peaks in blue, with a white curved river shape descending from its saddle to the horizontal base. Below it is a shallower reflection of its shape in light blue, apparently water. Below that are three stylized blue fish in a row, with tails upraised, swimming toward the right; the central fish pointed to the lower right. Above the logo is Iqaluit in simple black Narkisim font, below are Inuktitut syllabic characters in black, with the same meaning.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


Iqaluit, originally an Inuit summer camp, was founded as a U.S. air base in 1942 and called Frobisher Bay until 1987. It became the territorial capital in 1995. Iqaluit is in the Everett Mountains rising from Koojesse Inlet, part of Frobisher Bay; both are likely represented by the mountains and water in the logo. The river is likely the Sylvia Grinnell River. In Inuktitut “iqaluit” means “place of many fish”—in this case, Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus). Martin Frobisher, the first European and the bay’s namesake, arrived in 1576.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011 


The current flag is a revision of the 1987 flag, selected from among 37 entries in a contest anticipating the official name change from Frobisher Bay to Iqaluit in 1986. The current design was created for more effective visual and marketing presentation by marketing agency Outcrop Communications in 2000–2001, as part of a general logo, letterhead, and street signage improvement campaign in the new territorial capital.
   All such NWT/Nunavut civic flags were designed in 1985 for the Northwest Territories Exhibition Hall at Vancouver’s Expo ’86, at the initiative of heraldry enthusiast Michael Moore, then a deputy minister at the NWT Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA). The side-bar colours of these Canadian pale designs vary from dark blue, to green, to brown, and to bright red. The ovoid civic logo of Arviat was likely derived from a Canadian Community Newspaper Association logo, awarded in 1983 to News North, the primary newspaper of the Canadian Arctic, and printed on its masthead for many years.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011 


Unknown. The flag was restyled by a graphic artist at Outcrop Communications in Yellowknife, NWT.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Previously used flags

[Iqaliut flag] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

A less-stylized version of the flag preceded the current flag. It is a Canadian pale design of blue-white-blue. The logo, in the form of an inverted shield with a rounded top and a flat base, contains the same elements— mountain, river, water, fish—depicted in blue, white, and black. However, there are three mountains and the river, ending in an ice shelf, is a prominent central feature, showing a serrated face to the front, at the water’s edge. Also, there are four fish, arranged two over two, all swimming to the right. They are separated by a broadly-serrated narrow horizontal black line. The inscription IQALUIT is in black sans-serif letters curving above the logo; the Inuktitut syllabic characters in black run horizontally below the base of the logo.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

[Iqaliut flag] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

The first flag of then-Frobisher Bay incorporated an already-existing badge which depicted a snow bunting in the foreground in white and black, the wavy blue waters of the bay, and a modest church and hills on the far back shore, all in white. Behind them is a golden yellow semicircle forming a sun in three concentric bands separated by white lines edged in black. The beloved snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) was long Frobisher Bay’s symbol until its name changed to Iqaluit and its symbol became the fish. The most distinctive building in many northern towns is the “igloo” church, and the badge surely depicts the unique silhouette of St Jude’s Anglican Cathedral, consecrated in 1972, destroyed by arson in 2005, and recently completely rebuilt. The badge was incorporated, as is, into a flag in 1985 by Rob Butler, graphic artist at Inkit Graphics in Yellowknife, NWT.
Mark S. Ritzenhein, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

2013 proposal

[Iqaliut flag] image located by Valentin Poposki, 8 November 2019

Here is a proposal for Iqaluit flag and branding by Andrea Deering Studio in 2013
Valentin Poposki, 8 November 2019


Apex (Inuktitut Niaqunngut) is a small community near Iqaluit located on Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. It is about 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Iqaluit on a small peninsula separating Koojesse (Kuujussi) Inlet from Tarr Inlet. Officially and functionally part of the City of Iqaluit, Apex residents are independent minded and tend to reject affiliation with "Frobisher Bay"." - from Wikipedia:,_Iqaluit

Although not a municipality, in 2003 there were efforts to design a community flag, and a winner design was chosen. Unfortunately, no description, nor image are available. Read the story in a Nunavut Assembly document here:, pages 16 and 17.
Valentin Poposki, 23 April 2011