The Thelon sweeps majestically out of spruce-lined valleys, winding across the barrens through vast shimmering lakes set like mirrors in the treeless tundra, finally emptying into Baker Lake. This boreal-Arctic oasis supports a rich and unusually diverse northern concentration of wildlife. Paddle through a land of muskox, white wolves, moose, barren-ground grizzly, wolverine; soaring gyrfalcon, peregrine falcons and more than 10,000 moulting Canada Geese. The 275,000 strong Beverly caribou herd crosses the river in large groupings at a number of spots during the herd’s annual migration.
For the Inuit of the village of Baker Lake, the river is a vital source of caribou, fish and spiritual renewal. The Thelon, together with its sister river, the Kazan, has long been home to the Caribou Inuit, the only inland community of Inuit in Canada. The shores of the Thelon, particularly from Beverly Lake downstream, are a treasure-house of pre-historic artifacts and Inuit campsites, some dating back thousands of years. The Thelon continues to play a vital role in the lives of the Caribou Inuit, who now reside primarily in the community of Baker Lake at the river’s mouth. It was their strong desire and effort to have the river and their traditional life on that lead to its designation as a Canadian Heritage River in 1990.
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.
Canoeists paddling the upper Thelon may arrange a float-plane drop-off on Whitefish, Lynx or Eyeberry lakes and for the Hanbury-Thelon route, on Artillery or Sifton lakes. The lakes on the lower Thelon are also accessible by canoe from the Dubawnt River system, but Dubawnt Lake is often frozen into July. Canoeists can pre-arrange pick up by float plane or power boat pick up from 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
Outfitters offering Thelon Heritage River/Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary Trips
Canoe Arctic Inc. has been operating on the Thelon Heritage River and in the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary since the summer of 1975.
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.
Thelon Heritage River and Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary Editorial [.pdf – 882KB] – This four page editorial offers information on the Thelon Heritage River and the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary.
Thelon Heritage River Nomination Document [.pdf – 2.2MB]
Thelon Heritage River Management Plan [.pdf – 500KB]
Thelon Heritage River Management Plan 10-Year Review [.pdf – 1.3MB]
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.
Dienger, Carol. 1990. “The Timeless Thelon.” Up Here Magazine, March/April.
Hanbury, David.1904. Life and Sport in the Northland of Canada, Edward Arnold Co., London.
Pelly, David F. 1996. Thelon – A River Sanctuary, Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association.
Rossbach, George. 1966. “By Canoe Down the Thelon”. The Beaver, Outfit 297, Autumn.
Thomson, Sheila. 1989. “Down the Thelon: The tundra casts a spell.” Borealis, Fall: 34-38.
Thomson, Sheila. 1990. Journal of a Barrenlander, W.H.B. Hoare. Box 4435, Station “E”. Ottawa, K1S 5B4.
Whalley, George. 1962. The Legend of John Hornby, Macmillan, Toronto.