Anonymous undated essay
On the west coast of Hudson Bay, Rankin Inlet lies 300 miles north of Churchill, Manitoba. The area near the settlement is rocky and many small lakes dot the surrounding low hills. The ground is covered mostly with moss and grass. There are a few stunted willows, but no trees. The nearest communities to Rankin Inlet are Chesterfield Inlet, about 50 miles north, and Whale Cover, about 50 miles to the south. Approximately 435 Eskimos and 55 non-Eskimos live in Rankin Inlet, with some 550 Eskimos living in the surrounding area.
Until the early part of 1950 few Eskimos lived there, although some from the Chesterfield district used to fish at Rankin Inlet occasionally. It has never been a particularly good hunting ground. In the early 1950’s it was decided to develop a nickel deposit that had been discovered in 1929. The company, North Rankin Nickel Mines Limited, employed Eskimo labour during the construction phase, and when the mines went into production in late 1957, a number of Eskimos were trained to work in the mine and the mill. The surface crew was composed mainly of Eskimos.
As a result of the mine development, a community of considerable size developed. The Roman Catholic Church established a mission in 1956, and in 1957 an Anglican mission and a Pentecostal mission were also set up. The Hudson’s Bay Company took over the commissary of the North Ranking Nickel Mine, and in 1957 built a large modern general store.
In 1956, the mine built a single classroom school for children of their employees. By agreement with the company, the school was taken over by the Department of Northern Affairs in 1957: Present educational facilities include 6 classrooms, an industrial arts shop and a home-making cabin. School enrolment is now 136.
A housing program for Eskimos was started by the mine in 1956. The original Eskimo community of 14 houses was increased to 65 in 1959 by the Department of Northern Affairs, and now all Eskimos live in low-cost homes in a planned community.
The number of Eskimos employed in the mine varied with the season. During the busy summer months the total ran close to 100, while it dropped off sharply in the winter. At the lowest point, about 40 Eskimos were employed. Mining operations at Rankin Inlet ceased October 1962 and plans are being made for the development of other sources of income.
A fox trapping project was started last winter as one method to improve the local economy. Few foxes were taken, but the Eskimo trappers learned a good deal about improved trapping methods. The use of mechanized equipment, and the new skills will be put to good use when the fox population reaches toward the peak of the cycle, two or three years hence.
A contract crafts instructor started his program in May 1963. The instructor is organizing and improving the quantity and quality of craft work, carvings, graphic arts and the manufacture of clothing.
In conjunction with efforts to locate new local sources of income, unemployed Eskimos in this area are being actively encouraged to return to their home settlements. There is a possibility that new and substantial satellite settlements may be formed at Faly and Bernheimer Bays, north along the coast towards Repulse Bay where games resources are quite abundant.
The company hospital is now operated by Indian and Northern Health Services, with a staff of two nurses, one of whom is a public health nurse. The R.C.M. Police maintains a 3-man detachment in the community. Northern Affairs’ staff includes the Administrator, a clerk, six teachers, a contract craft instructor and a number of technical staff.
At Rankin Inlet, the temperatures range from 70 degrees above in the summer to 50 degrees below in the winter. Freeze-up occurs around the middle of October, and break-up about the middle of July. There are frequent high winds and blizzards during the winter months and considerable rain and fog during June, July and August.
There is one scheduled flight a week from Rankin Inlet to Churchill; and chartered flights are made on a year-round basis. During the navigation season, a number of supply ships call at Rankin.