The Kazan River flows through the cradle of Caribou Inuit culture, in the heart of Nunavut’s barrenlands. Over the centuries, the Inuit have left a subtle imprint on the rugged landscape of the Kazan valley, where tree cover is rare and the rocky outcrops of the Shield are dramatically exposed. The banks of the Kazan are rich with signs of former occupation, including inuksuit standing sentinel at river crossings, campsites and caches. This unique concentration of historic and prehistoric sites adds a fascinating atmosphere to a visitor’s experience.
The apparently barren wilderness lies on the migration route of the 500,000 strong Qamanirjuaq caribou herd – one of the largest movements of land mammals in the world. It also is home to numerous muskox, the rare wolverine, and more than 60 species of birds. The endangered peregrine falcon nests along the river, favouring the spectacular cliff sides of Kazan Falls, and the river’s pure waters support an array of fish, including lake trout and grayling.
No roads lead to Nunavut; our Territory is accessible only by air and sea.
First Air and Canadian North both fly regular daily schedules to Iqaluit from four main southern airline ‘hubs’: Ottawa, Montreal, and Edmonton (via Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet). Flights from Winnipeg (via Churchill and Rankin Inlet) are also available.
Kivalliq Air operates flights from Cambridge Bay to Baker Lake (en route to Rankin Inlet), Monday through Friday. Calm Air flies from Winnipeg to Rankin Inlet and then on to Baker Lake daily except Sundays. Please check with the airline for schedule changes.
Access to the Kazan is usually by chartered aircraft from Baker Lake or from Lynn Lake and Churchill, Manitoba. Baker Lake is connected to the south by scheduled airline from Churchill and Winnipeg, and Lynn Lake is serviced through Winnipeg. The closest road and rail access end at Lynn Lake and Thompson, Manitoba. It is also possible to paddle to the Kazan from Lynn Lake, beginning near town at Reindeer Lake, up the Cochrane River, then portaging over the Kazan watershed, but the trip is very long and the canoeing season, short. Canoeists therefore prefer to arrange floatplane drop-off on Kasba or Ennadai lakes. To end the trip, pre-arranged air charter pick-up is possible from many points along the route. Most travellers, however, paddle directly to Baker Lake.
Tour operators in Baker Lake also offer day trips and sight-seeing tours on the Kazan. The 100 km trip to Kazan Falls from Baker Lake by charter floatplane or motorized freighter canoe is quite spectacular.
There are three hotels in Baker Lake, and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Association can help you arrange guiding and camping supplies. You can also camp at Inuujaarvik Territorial Park, located between the airport and the town on the shores of Baker Lake. The campground is equipped with picnic tables, tent platforms, firepit, a cookhouse/shelter and washrooms.
Iglu Hotel – Inns North
Baker Lake Lodge
Hunters and Trappers Association
Edwin Evo Outfitting & Naturalist Tours
Qataq Sports Hunts
The Jessie Oonark Centre and other local galleries showcase the art of Baker Lake’s talented local residents. You will see Baker Lake’s famous carvings of black soapstone, stitched and appliquéd wall hangings, jewellery, and silk-screened prints and clothing.
Jessie Oonark Centre
Baker Lake Fine Arts & Crafts Shop
Ookpiktuyuk Art Gallery
Email Ookpiktuyuk Art Gallery
Qamanittuaq Fine Arts Gallery and Studio
Email Qamanittuaq Fine Arts Gallery and Studio
The Vera Akumalik Visitor’s Centre is located in the restored Hudson’s Bay Store/Trading Post in Baker Lake. The centre features the original store and storehouse areas, counter and shelves, and the fur loft. It provides interpretation of the Caribou Inuit people and the community of Baker Lake; and the cultural and natural heritage of the Kazan and Thelon Rivers. Staff at the centre, which operates from July to September, will also provide you with information on local outfitters, businesses and other local attractions.
Vera Akumalik Visitor’s Centre
A diorama of the Fall Caribou Crossing national historic site is located in the Inuit Heritage Centre, as is a collection of photographs from the Fifth Thule Expedition.
Inuit Heritage Centre
To reach either the Vera Akumalik Visitor’s Centre or the Inuit Heritage Centre, email the Hamlet of Baker Lake.
Kazan Heritage River Editorial [.pdf – 908KB] – This four page editorial offers some information on the Kazan Heritage River.
Kazan Heritage River Nomination Document [.pdf – 1.9MB]
Kazan Heritage River Management Plan [.pdf – 900KB]
Kazan Heritage River Management Plan 10-Year Review [.pdf – 1.1MB]
Visitor information is available from the Visitor Information section of the website, and at relevant visitor and information centres throughout Nunavut. Contact Nunavut Parks for any additional information you may be looking for.
Burch, E. S., Jr. 1986. “Caribou Inuit”. In Morrison, R. B., and Wilson, R. (eds.), Native Peoples, the Canadian Experience, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto.
McKay, John W. 1983 Arctic Adventure: A Kazan River Journal. Betelguese Books, Toronto.
Morse, Eric. 1987. Freshwater Saga: Memoirs of a Lifetime of Wilderness Canoeing in Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.
Pelly, David. 1986. “Kazan: River of the Living Barrens”. In J. Raffan (ed.), Wild Waters: Canoeing Canada’s Wilderness Rivers, Key Porter Books, Toronto.
Pelly, D. and Chris Hanks, eds. 1991. The Kazan: Journey into an Emerging Land. Outcrop: the Northern Publishers. Yellowknife, NWT, 135 pp.
Pelly, D. & A. Stewart. 1989. “The Kazan”. Canadian Geographic, Sept/Oct.
Travel Keewatin and Keewatin Chamber of Commerce. Canoe the Keewatin Wilderness.