As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is home to many objects that come from across the country; from British Columbia to Quebec, to Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. In many ways, Ottawa is where all points of the country meet. So if you’re a Canadian and you’re looking for a connection to your home province or territory in Ottawa, chances are that you’ll find it. And particularly, if you’re from Nunavut, you’re in luck!
Nunavut is Canada’s youngest territory and it is the ninth region to be featured in a series of articles that are highlighting different aspects of the country’s provinces and territories within Ottawa. A northern Canadian region, Nunavut is sparsely populated, being home to vast expanses of Arctic tundra, mountains and small villages that can only be accessed by boat or bush plane. Nunavut is known for its thriving Canadian wildlife – you’ll find Polar Bears here – as well as its indigenous Inuit people. Nunavut’s capital city is Iqaluit, which is located on Baffin Island.
Wondering where to find pieces of this unique territory in Ottawa? We know where to find them. Discover what Ottawa treasures come from this northern region, whose motto is “Our land, our strength.”
Canadian Museum of History:
Located just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., the Canadian Museum of History is Canada’s most visited museum! Here, in the First Peoples Hall, you’ll find an ivory Paleo-Eskimo mask from the Dorset culture. According to the museum, the mask is about 3,500 years old and “is one of the oldest surviving representations of the human face found in Canada.” The mask was found on Devon Island in Nunavut.
Thinking of visiting Ottawa in 2017 for Canada’s big 150th anniversary year? You won’t want to miss the museum’s new Canadian History Hall. Opening on July 1, 2017 – Canada’s official birthday – this hall will feature 1,800 priceless artifacts that span across 15,000 years of Canadian history. Among them is the maple Moffatt stick; the oldest hockey stick known to be in existence.
National Gallery of Canada:
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including Indigenous and Inuit art. Here, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, drawings and more from Canada’s northern regions, including Nunavut.
According to the Gallery’s website, the collection holds about 100 sculptures by Inuit artists such as Osuitok Ipeelee, Kiawak Ashoona, Qaqaq Ashoona and Oviloo Tunnillie. The Gallery noted that these artists are from Nunavut’s Cape Dorset area.
The Gallery added that also in the extensive collection are more abstract art pieces by Inuit artists from the Arviat and Rankin Inlet, in central Nunavut. You’ll find works of art by artists such as Lucee Tasseor Tutsweetok, John Pagnark, John Tiktak and John Kavik.
According to the Gallery, the collection also encompasses more than 800 prints and drawings, which come from print studios that first became active in Cape Dorset in the 1950s. If you’re interested in Inuit art, the National Gallery of Canada is where you want to go. And… Admission is free on Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Canadian Museum of Nature:
Located at 240 McLeod St., the Canadian Museum of Nature puts Canada’s natural history on display, including the country’s rugged Arctic region.
In the museum’s Mammal Gallery, you’ll find a diorama of a female Polar Bear and her cub hunting for food on an icy landscape. Polar Bears call Nunavut home. The museum notes that in the diorama, there’s a nearby hole in the ice that reveals a ringed seal, which is likely to be the bear’s next meal. Videos near the diorama look at the amazing adaptations that Polar Bears have to live in the Arctic. For example, did you know that the Polar Bear is classified as a sea mammal, due to its ability to swim long distances and its dependence on sea ice as a primary habitat? According to the museum, the Polar Bear’s scientific name is “Ursus maritimus, meaning Maritime bear.”
In the Mammal Gallery, you’ll also find a diorama of Arctic hares in a landscape representing the Kokumiak River on Southampton Island in Nunavut. According to the museum, these animals have adapted well to the harsh Arctic climate. “In the winter, these animals stay curled in a ball and motionless for hours to conserve energy,” the museum said.
Also, in the museum’s Bird Gallery, you’ll find the Rock Ptarmigan; Nunavut’s official bird. The museum noted that the Rock Ptarmigan is one of the few birds that spend the winter on the Arctic tundra. This bird eats buds, berries and seeds to survive. In the summer, the museum said, the Ptarmigan’s brown plumage acts as camouflage, hiding it from predators while nesting.
Will you be visiting Ottawa in 2017? You won’t want to miss the museum’s new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery. In a press release last week, the museum announced that the brand new gallery “will immerse visitors in a region that many will never visit.” Though remote, the museum noted that the Canadian Arctic spans over approximately 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass, being home to more than 100,000 people as well as a diversity of plants, animals and other organisms. The new, interactive gallery will open on June 21, 2017 and will invite visitors to discover the Arctic through geography, climate, ecosystems and more!
Also, did you know that Nunavut is the only Canadian province/territory that is not featured on Parliament Hill’s famous Centennial Flame? It’s true. Nunavut only officially joined Canada on April 1, 1999; 32 years after the Centennial Flame was installed and initially lit by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.
But though Nunavut is not as prominently featured as other Canadian provinces, no trip to Ottawa is complete without a visit to Parliament Hill.
If you have time, see the Centennial Flame for yourself and also opt to take a guided tour of Centre Block. On the free tour, you’ll learn about how every province and territory is represented in Parliament, including Nunavut. You’ll also get to take the elevator to the top of the iconic 92.2-metre (302-foot) Peace Tower. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy a dramatic, 360-degree view of the city. Free, public guided tours are available daily, but these are subject to parliamentary activity.
These are only some of the many treasures that can be found in Canada’s Capital. There are many more things to see and do as well as more museums to discover such as the Canadian War Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum (which will reopen in mid-November 2017). Also, at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, you’ll find honey from every province in Canada.
For more information on what’s going on now, explore our See & Do page. Additionally, if you’re planning on being in Ottawa in 2017 for Canada’s big 150th anniversary year, consult our 2017 website section.