Kuujjuaq is Nunavik's largest community, located on the west shore of the Koksoak River, about 50 km upstream from Ungava Bay. Daily life in the community is governed by the tides of the mighty Koksoak River whose ebb and flow constantly alter the landscape and impose their rhythm on traditional summer activities. Kuujjuaq is surrounded by boreal forest, and patches of black spruce and larch grow in marshy valleys.
First known as Fort Chimo, "Chimo" being a mispronunciation of the Inuit sentence "Let's shake hands!" early fur traders were often welcomed with those words, which they eventually adopted as its name.
The first Europeans to have contact with the Inuit of what is now known as Kuujjuaq were, in fact, Moravian missionaries; Brothers Benjamin Kohlmeister and George Kmoch, who arrived a few kilometres downstream with the intention of converting the Inuit to Christianity.
In 1830, the Hudson's Bay Company began fur-trading activities in the area, which continued until 1866. Interestingly enough, Montagnais and Naskapi also came to trade at the post, along with local Inuit. During World War II, Americans built an air base along the west shore of the river, laying the foundations for the community before returning the base to Canada when the war was over.
In 1948, a Catholic mission was established, followed by a clinic, a school and a weather station. In 1958, the Hudson's Bay Company relocated upstream to be closer to the airstrip left by the Americans, a move that prompted remaining families near Fort Chimo to follow.
Now boasting two airstrips, Kuujjuaq has become the transportation hub of the entire region, boasting a number of hotels, restaurants, stores, arts and crafts shops and a bank.
There is plenty of Atlantic salmon and Arctic char fishing in the area. A visit to the original settlement of Fort Chimo is also a must for history enthusiasts.