The tiny ‘trees’ of Iqaluit

Outside the Arctic Circle but within the frozen, forbidding landscape of Baffin Island, Iqaluit, at the head of Frobisher Bay, is the territorial capital and the largest community of Nunavut. Englishman Martin Frobisher sailed here in 1576, thinking he’d found the route to China and the elusive Northwest Passage, but it took another 330 years for Amundsen to finally complete the journey. The Arctic Willow Salix arctica grows around Iqaluit, and though it is locally known as a ‘tree’ it is more a shrub; the willow’s tap root only extends through the top 15 centimetres, the permafrost preventing deeper penetration and subsequent vertical growth. This is the last place you’ll feel anywhere near civilisation, though just past the town border it’ll seem you’d left it long ago, so overawing is the Arctic wilderness beyond.

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