Coral Harbour | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Coral Harbour

Coral Harbour, Nunavut, incorporated as a hamlet in 1972, population 891 (2016 census), 834 (2011 census). The hamlet of Coral Harbour is located at the head of South Bay on Southampton Island in Hudson Bay, 715 km southeast of Iqaluit. The name Coral Harbour is descriptive and refers to the fossilized coral in its harbour. The Inuit’s traditional name for the site and the island, Salliq, is also descriptive and means “flat island.”


Situated on bedrock ridges above the tidal flats, Coral Harbour was originally the home of the Sadlermiut. The Sadlermiut perished from disease contracted from European whalers. The whalers subsequently brought in people from the Wager Bay─Repulse Bay area along with Inuit from Baffin Island and northern Quebec. Native Point, 64 km southeast of Coral Harbour, has the remnants of a large Sadlermiut village.

Settlement and Development

The present community of Coral Harbour was formed in 1924 with the establishment of a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. The post was previously located on Coats Island to the south. The Canadian and United States militaries built an airfield here during the Second World War. The airfield was later taken over by the federal government.


In the 1950s, the last caribou on the island was shot, affecting the Inuit’s traditional hunting practices. More emphasis was subsequently placed on marine mammals and birds. In the late 1960s, a new caribou herd was introduced to the island.

Today, the Inuit continue to live a traditional lifestyle although many are employed by the government. Residents also rely on seasonal work including the caribou harvest, guiding and construction.