Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut and the tiniest of such in Canada. It is one of the seven communities located on the largest island in Canada, the Baffin Island. Its population varies between 6000 and 8000, half of them being Inuit.
Like the other Baffin Island communities, Iqaluit is only accessible by air all year long and by sea from July to October according to the weather conditions. It is therefore a remote place for the hitcher.
During winter, snowmobiles are a preferred way of transportation in Iqaluit as in everywhere else in the 'Great North', this allows you a higher flexibility of transportation through the frozen land. Note that you may try to get a snowmobile ride to the community of Kimmirut (also known as Lake Harbour) which is a bit more than two hours away. Some people make it a day trip.
Most older settlements were built by military at the lowest material cost to be exclusively functional mainly because of the cost of material importation, which does not bring any particular interest towards architecture. Nowadays, the town is of political importance, which makes it a thriving community. The interests in the area remain in the large unspoiled Nordic landscape, midnight sun and other natural interests.
Iqaluit hosts the hitchhikingly famous Road to Nowhere. It really leads nowhere.
Everything is within walking distance, but people use the ubiquitous taxis, as they are available at a flat rate (6$).
Hitching within the community is very limited as the road network only stretch of about a kilometre outside town to the community of Apex, officially part of Iqaluit. Because of the non-existent hitchhiking culture, Inuit don't really understand what the gesture is for, though they might stop out of curiosity. There are a lot of cars, and people often give rides to pedestrians they know, especially when the weather is harsh.
It would be very difficult for a hitchhiker to reach Iqaluit overland. During the summer, one could try Hitchhiking a boat to Baffin Island which would be one of those three situations:
- Cargo boat or sealift coming from Montreal
- Round-the-world or adventure sailboats (harder to find)
- Arctic cruise ship : most come from Nuuk in Greenland and stop in Iqaluit before heading South. They are not regular lines.
Keep in mind that there is no marina in Iqaluit, not even a dock. Ships remain in the Frobisher Bay while a barge unloads the goods. Smaller boats are sent for people. This could make it very difficult to hitch out of the community.
One could try Hitchhiking a plane. The passenger airlines reaching Iqaluit from communities linked to Canada's main road network are Canadian North, First Air and AirCanada. They depart from Montreal and Ottawa, and indirect routes from Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife. But as airliners are usually not good to hitchhike on, one could have more chances with cargo flights, some of which also leave from Val d'Or in Quebec. It varies with the time of the year and weather conditions.
Private plane owners could be found by networking with Nunavut's only flying club : Polar Pilots
Even though some adventurers historically crossed to Baffin Island from the mainland, this is not something you should consider. The currents in the Hudson Strait are very strong and locals do not venture there, very few would cross by boat during summer. During winter, changes in the climate also make Arctic sea ice formation less predictable and reliable, and some straits that use to freeze fast cannot be trusted anymore. People also tend to believe that the Hudson Strait freezes over the winter, but multiple sources and local's knowledge contradict this.