Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada
Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada

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It was at Cape Dorset that the remains of an ancient Inuit people, who flourished between 1000 B.C. and 1100 A.D., were found. They were called the "Dorset Culture" afer Cape Dorset. The Baffin Inuit of Cape Dorset are descendents of the later "Thule Culture" knowns by their legends as the "Tunlit".

The cape itself was named by Captain Luke Fox on September 24, 1631, after Edward Sackville, Earl of Dorset. Sackville, a Lord of the Admiralty, was one of Fox's sponsors in his unsuccessful attempt to find the Northwest Passage. The "cape" on Dorset Island is actually a 243 meter [798 feet] high mountain, part of the Kinngait Range. Kinngait means "high mountain" in Inuktitut, hence the name of the community.

The Hudson's Bay company established a trading post in 1913. A Roman Catholic mission was established in 1938 but closed in 1960 as the majority of the residents are of the Anglican faith.

In 1947, the well known Artic supply ship, the RMS Nascopie, struck an uncharted reef at the harbour's entrance and sank. The ship and its cargo were lost, but the crew and passengers were saved: a cairn was built in memory of the disaster.

In 1953, the Inuit of Cape Dorset built the Anglican Church on their own initiative. In the same year, the artist James Houston arrived in the community. Mr. Houston and his wife spent 10 years in Cape Dorset, finding gifted artists, encouraging carving and handicraft production and introducing print-making. The West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative was founded in 1959. In that year the first major exhibition of Cape Dorset Inuit sculpture was held at the Stratford Festival. It was a success and carving and graphic art have now become the economic mainstay of the community.

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