Home > North meets South > Inuit Recollections on the Military Presence in Iqaluit > The first military site at Frobisher Bay: “Lower Base”

Assuituq National Park, near Broughton Island.

On the shore of Ungava Bay south of Killiniq.

The first military site at Frobisher Bay: “Lower Base”

Elijah Pudlu

"I heard that there was a war when the Americans were here. They even had a cannon on top of the hill because they were keeping watch. Also over by the airport where there was a military base for the Americans, I heard that they had a big cannon. […] They were protecting the Inuit. This town probably wouldn't exist if the Americans hadn't come here to protect us."
In Chapter Four, the Elders talk about Lower Base built by the Americans at Iqaluit in 1942-1943. Sammy Tikivik remembers the first houses, some of which looked like tents, and the gun set up on the hill. Simonie Michael and Ooleepeeka Nooshoota also recall the living quarters that looked like tents, which the Inuit called tupiujait. Simonie Michael, Bill MacKenzie, Tomassie Naglingniq, Jimmy Kilabuk, Napatchie Noah, Jayko Pitseolak and Jimmy Nooshoota recall the Iqaluit of the day, describing the buildings the Americans built that today have almost all been torn down, which makes Bill MacKenzie sad. Some of the Elders tell that the planes that landed in Iqaluit carried military goods and equipment on its way to Thule. Simonie Michael says that the Americans stayed in Iqaluit for eight years. The Canadian Air Force took over after they left and the Canadian government only came much later, in 1954. Elijah Pudlu talks about his family and their arrival in Iqaluit. He thought that the people who lived there were rich; he says that the Americans helped all the Iqalummiut a lot and protected them. According to him, Iqaluit would probably not exist if the Americans had not set up there and protected the Inuit. Martha Michael tells us that the river was moved to build the landing strip, which Bill MacKenzie, however, denies. He also says that the Canadian Air Force provided medical services to the aboriginal people, and Saami Qaumagiaq talks about his stay in the American hospital. Iqaluk Ipeelie, Kanaju Ipeelie, Simonie Michael, Tomassie Naglingniq and Akisu Joamie talk about the differences between the Canadians and the Americans. For some, there was no real difference, while for others, it was obvious. But they all agree that the food and their uniforms were different and that the Canadians were not as generous as the Americans. What’s more, their goods cost more. Geosa Uniuqsaraq reveals that the Inuit were sad after the Americans left.