Gjoa Haven is a community that is closely tied with the saga of the Northwest Passage. Its storied history includes contact with Scottish explorer John Ross and his crew in 1829 who were trapped in ice. It was because of the assistance of the local Inuit that they survived. Gjoa Haven was also the location of the ill-fated John Franklin expedition in 1845. John Franklin and his crew perished without ever finding the Northwest Passage.
It was Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen who founded ‘Gjøahavn’, noting it was the ‘finest little harbour in the world; He successfully traversed the Northwest Passage as the first explorer in 1906 due in large part to the local Inuit people who taught him how to survive in the Arctic.
The permanent community was founded after the Hudson’s Bay Company opened a trading post in 1927, which was followed by Roman Catholic missionaries. In the 1950’s, the population was only 110 people but has grown steadily with the establishment of schools, a nursing centre, and other essential services.
The Northwest Passage Territorial Trail will provide you with an amazing overview of the ancient and modern history of Gjoa Haven. You will see the signs of how Inuit once lived in the area, and how their interaction with the land continues today.
Today the community is a vibrant one, and still closely connected to the history of the the Northwest Passage. It is a popular destination for Arctic history buffs.