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Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Complex



Field Station Management

General information:  

The CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Complex (55° 15' N, 77° 45' W) is located in the adjacent villages of Whapmagoostui (Cree First Nation) and Kuujjuarapik (Inuit), on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay at the maritime limit of James Bay, near the mouth of the Great Whale River. It is on Cree land and is run in collaboration with the Cree First Nation of Whapmagoostui. Station management is run by a local manager, present year-round.

Location:   The station is located within the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik village (1400 inhabitants, communities of Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik combined)
Owner:   Centre d’études nordiques (Centre for Northern Studies -CEN) and the Cree First Nation)
Address:   CEN station at Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik
Centre d'études nordiques (CEN)
P.O. Box 59
22020 rue Principale
Kuujjuarapik,Quebec, Canada
J0M 1G0
Opening year:   1971
Operational period:   Year-round
Station networks:  

Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators

INTERACT - International network for terrestrial research and monitoring in the arctic


Keywords:   Tundra, wetland, sea ice, coastal, taïga, sand dunes, ponds, atmosphere, trees, treeline, thermokarst lakes, cuestas, sporadic permafrost, isostatic uplift, raised beaches, glacial features, deltaic environments, large river
Climate:   Subarctic
Temperature:   Mean annual temp. -4 °C ; Mean temp. in February -22.4 °C ; Mean temp. in July 12.7 °C
Winds:   Mean annual wind speed 4.69 m/s ; Max. wind speed 26.94 m/s ; Dominant wind direction - ESE (changes to WNW in winter)
Precipitations:   Rain and snow ; total annual precipitation 648 mm
Ice breakup:   River and sea in May
Permafrost:   Discontinuous
Altitude:   50 m at the station ; 0 m to 140 m in study area
Natural environment:  

The climate at Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is strongly influenced by the proximity of Hudson Bay, and the recent, pronounced loss of sea ice in this sector of northern Canada has been accompanied by large increases in air temperature. Discontinuous or scattered permafrost occurs throughout the region and is degrading rapidly.

Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is located at the terrestrial boundary between the taiga and the tundra. The community is built on a sandy headland, at the mouth of the Great Whale River. Granites covered by a thick layer of sand characterize the soils of the region. This region continues to experience particularly rapid isostatic uplift in response to the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Parabolic dunes occur along the coast and are strongly influenced by plant cover. South of the Great Whale River is the taiga zone (Boreal forest), while north of the river, the forest tundra zone progressively dominates the landscape. Locally, the vegetation type is coastal forest tundra, with some 400 recorded species. Paleoecological studies have documented the Holocene evolution of landscapes, including lakes, wetlands, and forests.

The Manitounuk Islands, located just a little to the north along the coast, are part of the Hudsonian cuestas found on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. These islands are characterized by rocky beaches on the side facing the open sea and vertiginous cliffs on the shore facing the coast.

Human dimension:  

The first signs of human occupation in the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik region have been dated at 3800 BP. In the past, the English name Great Whale and the French name Poste-de-la-Baleine have been used to designate this community. The Hudson Bay Company (HBC) established the first fur trade post here in 1750 and marked the onset of continuous occupation. The Canadian army opened a military air base here in 1954, using Inuit and Cree workers. Later, the HBC post closed. After the World War II, the military base was transferred to the Canadian government and a Mid-Canada Line radar station was operated.

This bicultural community represents the ancestral limit of the Cree and Inuit territories. It is both the northernmost Cree community and the southernmost Inuit community in Quebec. Whapmagoostui-Kuujjjuarpaik has a population of about 1400 inhabitants.

The spoken languages are Cree, Inuktitut, and English with some French. Much work on the social dimensions has been conducted over time. Rapid social, economic, and environmental change initiated in the mid-20th century continues to this day.


Disciplines:   Anthropology, sociology, archaeology, atmospheric chemistry and physics, isotopic chemistry, climatology, environmental science, geology and sedimentology, geophysics, glaciology, geocryology, geomorphology, soil science, mapping gis, marine biology, oceanography and fisheries, microbiology, hydrology, terrestrial biology, ecology, paleolimnology, paleoecology, limnology.
Current research :  

Current projects include work on biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems; impacts of melting permafrost in the context of global warming; wetlands paleoecology; restoration of vegetation in degraded sites, and research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow).

Past research:   An overview of past studies in this region is given in: Bhiry, N., Delwaide, A., Allard, M., Bégin, Y., Filion, L., Lavoie, M., Nozais, C., Payette, S., Pienitz, R., Saulnier-Talbot, E., Vincent, W.F. 2011. Environmental change in the Great Whale River region, Hudson Bay: Five decades of multidisciplinary research by CEN. Ecoscience 18: 182-203.
Permits and licensing:  

CEN ensures that local leaders are aware of the projects undertaken by its researchers. See contact to make arrangements and for information on licensing/permitting issues. Permits are not required to access the station nor to conduct research in the area.

Climatic and environmental data:  

CEN operates 2 climate stations from the CEN SILA Network (www.cen.ulaval.ca/sila) in the area of Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik and has collected extensive climate datasets since 1957. CEN is a member of the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network and collects data for measuring external gamma radiation. The station also hosts a magnetometer of the AUTUMNX network managed by Athabasca University.

Nordicana D:   CEN's Nordicana-D series freely and openly give access to online climatic and environmental data reports archived at CEN, aiding the management of the wealth of environemental data sets produced by CEN's monitoring and research activities. The following data serie is available for this area :CEN 2013. Environmental data from Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Region in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada, v. 1.0 (1987-2012). Nordicana D4, doi: 10.5885/45057SL-EADE4434146946A7. Visit the Website www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad/ to view the complete list of available data.

Infrastructure and Local Services

Infrastructure presentation:  

This station is the CEN’s principle field station and has operated since the 1970’s, with diverse research projects on past and present environments.

In 2010, major upgrades to the station were undertaken, consisting of the construction of a state-of-art Community Science Centre to serve the needs of the circumpolar science community for research planning, information exchange, national research workshops and coordination of field operations, and the local communities for information exchange, identification of northern research needs, science training of northerners, exchange of traditional knowledge, and outreach activities.

The Community Science Centre offers a conference room with a capacity of 50 participants and a permanent, interactive display on CEN research activities as well as information on local human and natural history.

In addition to this new building, the station also counts seven renovated buildings including wet and dry labs, a greenhouse, a dormitory, a cafeteria (with full meal services during the summer season), offers vehicles rental, wireless internet, rental of sampling and camping equipment, and an onsite station manager. The station also includes a workshop, a garage and rents storage space. 

Number of rooms (beds):   A total of 13 rooms and a dormitory (28 beds) are available.

A station manager is present year-round. A cook and an assistant are present for the summer.

Capacity:   28 visitors at the time.

Showers are available in each house. Laundry facilities are found in the dormitory building. Solar and hydroelectric power are available 24/7. Water is drinkable and is provided from an artesian well. Garbage collection is on Tuesday and Friday mornings, containers are available for this purpose. Recyclables are not locally collected.

Communication :  

A telephone is available but users must use a calling card for long distance calls. Internet WI-FI is free but limited. Satellite phones and VHF are available for rent from the CEN secretariat. Printer, scanner and fax services are available. A fully equipped conference room with projector and sound system is available in the Community Science Centre.

Scientific equipment:  

Greenhouse available for experiments. Wet and dry lab are equipped with drying oven, electronic scale, microscope/binocular, glassware, and greenhouse. Note that WHMIS training or equivalent is required to use the labs. Absorbent material for environmental hazards on site. Chemical storage is not authorized. All products must be brought back after use.

Vehicles :  

Access to the surrounding area by chartered flights, rental of boat and/or all-terrain vehicles can be organized by the station manager. Motor boat, Zodiac, trucks (4x4), ATVs(quads), snowmobiles and bicycles are available at the station. Fuel is available in the community.

Local resources:  

Metal workshop (in town)
Wood workshop (in town)
Plexiglas workshop (in town)
Staff available to assist with construction.
Local guides and translators available for hire.

How to Get There

Access :  

Access to the station is provided by commercial flight, helicopter and ship. Three cargos and 1 barge normally visit in June, August, September and October. Two flights per day, from Radisson (100 km south) and Montréal are available year-round. Chatered flights are also available.

Charter services:  

Nunavik Rotors (Kuujjuaq), Héli-Inter and Whapchiwem (Radisson) offer helicopter services. Air Inuit and Air Creebec offer chartered flights.

Landing facilities:  

Gravel airstrip of 1531 × 45 m (length × width). Airport is located in town, 1 km from the station. Heliport available. Lake landing available. Ship docking facilities (port, landing wharf and pier and pontoon) are present.

Safety, Medical Services and Insurance

Safety equipment:  

Safety equipment recommended to work outside the village are : pepper spray, scaring pistol, communication device, first aid kit, weapon (if working in remote area). 

Insurance :  

It is the responsibility of the user of the station to ensure that he or she has the necessary insurance to complete his or her research.

The CSST provides insurance coverage to employees or student employees only for accidents at work. In all other cases, personal insurance must cover victims for accidents and evacuation. It is therefore essential to have adequate coverage in terms of activity and destination. Quebec Health Insurance is valid in the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik area. Note that no agreement exists with the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, even if these areas are located in Canada.

Medical services:  

Medical facilities are well equipped (standard) and include a medical suite. Staff with basic medical training is found at the CLSC (community hospital) with 4 nurses, 1 doctor. The station is not equipped with compulsory safety equipment.

Airborne medical emergency:  

Air medic offers individual, family, and temporary protection plan to obtain emergency medical or airborne services on 100% of the Quebec territory.

Reservation and Fees

Reservation presentation:  

Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Station and related services are available to all researchers (university, college, governmental and private) working in the area or who travel to other parts of the North.

The station can also accommodate groups of students at the secondary, collegial and university levels wishing to undertake training in the North. Scientific and educational workshops can also be held at the station. Please make arrangements in advance.

Availability :  

Calendar of reservations

Cost :  

Rate schedule

Rules at the station:  

Visitors, to make your stay comfortable and make sure you meet the requirements of CEN, please read the rules at the station.


On the web:  



Make your reservation online

Station Manager
Tel. : 819-929-3319 ext 227




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