Historic Sites of Manitoba: Akudlik (Churchill River Road, Churchill)
In the mid-1950s, the federal Department of Northern Affairs relocated a group of Inuit people from what was at that time known as the Keewatin district of the North West Territories (today, absorbed into Nunavut) to a former construction camp near Fort Churchill, the military base about 2½ miles southeast of Churchill. It became known as Akudlik, an Inuit word meaning “The Place Between.” In 1958, the regional headquarters for the Keewatin district were established at Akudlik, along with a transient centre for people coming to Churchill for medical treatment. At that point, cedar-log bungalows were built. Unlike the houses at Dene Village, the houses at Akudlik were serviced by water and sewer.
In the 1970s, the Keewatin government office was relocated to Rankin Inlet. Manitoba conservation officers informed the remaining Inuit that they were no longer permitted to hunt in Manitoba. They could kill a polar bear only if it was on sea ice, which was defined as belonging to NWT, but not on land around Churchill. Most of them moved to Rankin Inlet and other northern communities.
The buildings at Akudlik became the property of the Manitoba government and they sold most of them to people from Churchill who moved them off-site, including to spots along the Churchill River, where they became homes and summer cottages. A few of the buildings remained at Akudlik into the early 1980s when a non-profit entity known as the Churchill Northern Studies Centre was established. It was based initially in the former Keewatin office building and a couple of the other nearby buildings. The Centre later relocated to the former rocket range.
At the time of a 2018 site visit, only one of the former buildings at Akudlik remained, surrounded by derelict vehicles.
Photos & Coordinates
“Housing needed to prevent Churchill fires,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 1961, page 57.
“Churchill research base gets support,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 April 1975, page 6.
“Churchill fears village closing,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 April 1978, page 76.
“Province of Manitoba Department of Government Services – Land Acquisition Branch, Notice of Tender, Surplus Buildings – Akudlik Settlement,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 September 1981, page 95.
“Inuit Land Use and Occupancy in Northern Manitoba” by Roderick Riewe, Luke Suluk, and Lorraine Brandson. Northern Review No. 3/4 (June 2015).
Financial support for research reported on this page was provided by Manitoba Heritage Grant 18F-H49829.
We thank Maria Zbigniewicz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 October 2019