Projects: Thule House Replica  

Considering the overall limited offer of Inuit historic and archaeological programming in Iqaluit IHT wants to fill in that gap by developing a new archaeology interpretive site that is close to the city, provides easy access to visitors, offers a unique "face to face" experience with ancient Inuit history to the visitor and thus has a long lasting inspiring and educational impact on visitors.

Therefore we would like to construct a full size replica of a Thule culture whale bone house either in the direct vicinity of an archaeological (pre-contact) site along Sylvia Grinnell River or behind the old graveyard along the Apex Trail.

In addition to the Thule house being a permanent exhibit, cultural performances and archaeological and ethnographic summer camps could be conducted at the site and thus form a bridge between Inuit past

The Thule house shall be a full replica of a whale bone house. This means that it shall contain:

  • Semi sub-terranean base layer with rock plates for the floor and rocks for the sitting platform
  • Whale bone skeleton structure for the walls and roof
  • Wood, skin and sod for roof top layer

A big concern for the site is disturbance or vandalism by humans. IHT is intending to address this issue by involving the community as much as possible in the construction process and partnering with other local organizations who ideally would share the responsibilities of maintaining and managing the site with IHT.

Accessibility to the site is probably the backbone to the success of the overall project idea (archaeology education and extraordinary visitor attraction in Iqaluit). The example of the interpretive site at Peterhead Inlet shows that a great site does not generate many visitors if other infrastructure is insufficient.

Easy accessibility and thus more visitors also mean a higher risk of damage through disrespectful visitors. Nunavut communities including Iqaluit are known for high rates of mischief and vandalism. 24/7 surveillance through cameras or security personal may not be realizable for a project like this near Iqaluit. Securing the heritage site through fencing to keep people off the area during closing hours probably is very costly and will pay a huge toll to the scenic quality and ambiance of the proposed site.

Consequently these and other options of safeguarding the site need to be explored in more detail. One factor could be limited accessibility or the structure's vicinity to other buildings that are already regularly monitored for security purposes. The three proposed locations of the Thule house show different levels of accessibility. This and other pros and cons of the respective sites will be discussed in the following section:

Under the lead of Inuit Heritage Trust a project development and implementation committee has been established (Thule House Project Planning Committee). This team consisting of key organizations from Nunavut with expertise in culture, heritage and tourism matters will meet regularly for planning sessions.

Further information on Thule houses at the Glenbow Museum website.





The aim is to construct a full size replica of a Thule culture whale bone house.