The Sallirmiut People
Southampton Island has been inhabited by Inuit for thousands of years because of its abundant resources.
Coral Harbour is located on Southampton Island, at the north of Hudson's Bay.
The Island has been inhabited by Inuit for thousands of years because of its abundant resources.
Until the early 20th Century, the Island was populated by the Sallirmiut people, who are believed to have been the last of the Thule Inuit in the Arctic. The Sallirmiut were well known for their short stature, unbelievable strength, different hairstyles, and their unique language.
Tragically, they died from an epidemic, the deadly typhus disease, carried by the Scottish whalers in 1902. However, 3 Sallirmiut survived the epidemic and were brought ashore by whalers. A woman and 2 children. The RCMP, in the sprinf of 1902, transported the individuals back to Chesterfield Inlet. The woman and one child were taken to the Baker Lake area. The woman died shortly after arriving there. The child was taken to Repulse Bay where he died in 1948.
You can still visit a Sallirmiut camp at Native Point, located 64 km southeast of Coral Harbour, where you will find sod huts, bones, ruins and animal parts.
The Hudson's Bay Company and WW II
In 1925, the Hudson's Bay Company established a trading post at the present site of Coral Harbour by combining secondary posts from Chesterfield Inlet and Coats Island.
The traders brought with them Inuit from Baffin Island, northern Quebec and Keewatin to repopulate the area.
Just outside Coral Harbour, an American military air base was built in 1941 as a staging point for aircraft being ferried to Europe during World War II.
The site later became a military training area, then a weather observation point, before becoming the current municipal airport. There are many artifacts and buildings still standing attesting to a more violent time. Many of the bases's tools, equipment and bottles were buried and left behind by the military. These items occasionally surface. This site is now protected by the Archaeological Ordinances.
During the 1950's and 1960's, the Government of Canada increased its presence by building a school in 1955, a nursing station in 1963, and other government buildings and houses ever since.
Inuit were encouraged to move permanently to the central Community of Coral Harbour from their outpost camps to obtain much needed health care, education and essential services.
In recent times, the inhabitants of the area have formed private companies to provide local services as well as outfitting and hospitality services to visitors.
Tourism has also expanded because of the Island's rich resources. Southampton Island has a healthy population of Polar Bears, Caribou, Walrus and many others.