Victoria Island


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At 280,000 km2, Victoria Island is the size of England and Scotland combined, but it is only the second largest island in the Canadian Arctic. Victoria Island lies immediately north of the mainland, from which Dolphin and Union Strait, Coronation Gulf, Dease Strait, and Queen Maud Gulf separate it.

A large part of the island's landmass consists of peninsulas. These include the broad Prince Albert Peninsula in the northwest, Wollaston Peninsula in the southwest, Collinson Penninsula in the east, and a large unnamed peninsula east of Hadley Bay. The coastline is very irregular, forming bays and capes all along the margins of the island. Several smaller islands are close to Victoria Island, including Stefansson Island that lies off its north coast.

There are three different topographic regions on Victoria Island: lowlands, uplands, and plateau. The lowlands lie in the southeast and comprise most of the island. The upland regions begin along the line running from the middle of Hadley Bay to the north of Prince Albert Sound. Northwest of a line between Walker Bay and Glenelg Bay, the highlands flatten to form a plateau.

The lowlands start in the southeast as a low plain, but gradually slope upwards towards the northwest. In the southeast, the bedrock is mostly limestone, but many areas are covered in glacial drift. Because the elevation of this area is so low, the land is spotted with lakes and rivers. There are a few small hills and one large hill, Mount Pelly, which is situated just northeast of Cambridge Bay. A large valley, only 100 metres above sea level, extends from the end of Prince Albert Sound. To the north and south of the sound, however, the landscape gradually rises to 300 m. The unnamed northeastern peninsula is much closer to sea level, but still possesses cliffs along its western edge. Much of the plain is covered by moraine deposits, which form drumlins and eskers that reflect the passage of glaciers. Other areas are exposed bedrock.

The upland region has both volcanic and sedimentary bedrock, which results in a landscape of rugged hills. Many of these hills form sloping escarpments that end in sheer cliffs. The lakes in this area drain towards Minto Inlet.

The northwestern corner of the island, the majority of Prince Albert Peninsula, is a plateau that ranges in elevation between 300 and 500 m. The area is cut by two rivers, both of which drain into Richard Collinson Inlet. On either side of these rivers, the land is dome-shaped.

There are two settlements on Victoria Island, one belonging to the Northwest Territories and the other, Nunavut. Holman (Uluqsaqtuuq), NWT, is situated just inside King's Bay and has a population of about 398 people. Cambridge Bay, in the southeast, is also called Ikaluktutiak in Inuktitut, which means "good fishing place". It has a population of 1309.