Kekerten Park is a reminder of the European and American Arctic whaling days of long ago. Located on Kekerten Island, about 50 kilometres south of Pangnirtung, the park area was first used as a whaling station after the island was charted by Scottish whaler William Penny in 1840. Soon after, Kekerten and the surrounding Cumberland Sound became a major location for whaling by both the British and the Americans. Knowledge of whales, the area and of Arctic survival made the Inuit people essential allies in the arctic commercial whaling industry.
Today, a three hour boat ride will take you to Kekerten Park where you will find the remnants of this bygone era described by signage along an interpretive trail. Among the many features of the site are the foundations of three storehouses built in 1857 by Scottish whalers, large cast-iron pots once used for rendering whale oil, blubber-hauling pins and the remains of a whaleboat ship.
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.
The simplest way is to take a scheduled flight with First Air or Kenn Borek to Pangnirtung, which both fly regular schedules during the week throughout the year. It is always best to confirm these flight schedules before arrival.
In late spring (early May to mid-June) the best way to reach Kekerten from Pangnirtung is by snowmobile, although cross-country skiing is also a great way to get there. Regardless of the mode of transportation, visitors should always prepare for unexpectedly cold temperatures and winds that eat through several layers of clothing. Visitors should also be aware that ice conditions can be very uncertain during the latter weeks of June and early July, and are best left to Inuit who are well versed in pre-breakup travel.
Summer travel to Kekerten is usually by Lake Winnipeg boat or freighter canoe, but should not be planned for earlier than July 15 since ice often lingers this late in the year. Once the ice clears, boat trips to the park are possible until late September, when the waters slowly begin to ice up again. Even on the warmest of summer days, warm and waterproof clothing, including rubber boots should be carried. Local licensed guides or outfitters will provide a survival suit for boat travel, and carry proper survival gear.
If travelling without an outfitter, rent a survival suit somewhere in town. Check with the local Angmarlik Visitor Centre in Pangnirtung for information on the tides in Pangnirtung Fiord which are tremendous and will dictate your departure and arrival times.
Aside from ski excursions, which will take more time, a round-trip to Kekerten – with time out to enjoy the park – takes about 12 hours. Camping is not permitted in the historic site, but there is camping available outside the historic size area. There is also a cabin at the park for shelter in an emergency.
In Pangnirtung, you can camp at the Pisuktinu Tunngavik Territorial Park which offers tent platforms, outhouse and other facilities. Check with the Angmarlik Visitor Centre in Pangnirtung for information.
There is a couple options for staying in Pangnirtung. Pisuktinu Tunngavik Territorial Park also provides new campsite facilities including picnic tables, firepit and washrooms.
Trips to Kekerten are best arranged in Pangnirtung through the Angmarlik Visitor Centre in Pangnirtung – the best source of information to help you make the most of your visit. The Centre will also direct you to the different outfitters and services offered.
Kullualik Outfitting and Fishing Camp
Peter’s Expediting & Outfitting Services
Visit the Uqqurmiut Centre to see vibrant arts and crafts from the community, or watch local carving and printmaking at the gallery or throughout the hamlet.
The Angmarlik Visitor’s Centre provides interpretation for Kekerten Territorial Park, the HBC Blubber Station, and the history of whaling in and around Kimmirut. Staff at the centre will also direct you to guides/outfitters, arrange walking tours of the town, and set up home-stays.
Angmarlik Visitor’s Centre
Kekerten Territorial Park Editorial – [.pdf – 870KB] This four page editorial offers information on Kekerten Territorial Park.
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.