You are Here - 80 years of Canadian Geographic maps

The North

Home Land
Vulnerable Environments
Northern Resources

Eskimo campsites, Canadian Eskimo population

Image of a map of northern Canada showing aboriginal campsites from 1944

Today, the native populations of Canada’s Eastern Arctic and Greenland are known as the Inuit. In the past, explorers and anthropologists referred to them by one broad term: Eskimo. It was originally used by non-Inuit to refer to native populations in a derogatory way (Eskimo was thought to mean “eaters of raw meat,” but linguists, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, now believe it is a word derived from Ojibwa meaning “to net snowshoes”), which is why the term is no longer used.

When J. Lewis Robertson wrote in a September 1944 feature article for the Canadian Geographical Journal that the “Canadian Eskimo population is not a homogenous people ” the term was still acceptable. The 15-page piece outlines the demographics of the native population in the eastern Arctic, describing the seasonal camps of Inuit communities and some features that differentiate them from populations in the western Arctic. The accompanying map shows the distribution of Inuit settlements in the east, identifying seasonal camps (including “usual” and “occasional” summer and winter camps), and unoccupied posts and “white” settlements. It encompasses the districts of Mackenzie and Keewatin to the west, Ellesmere Island and Greenland to the north and Nunavik to the east.

"Eskimo campsites" and " Canadian Eskimo population" from "Eskimo Population in the Canadian Eastern Arctic", Canadian Geographical Journal, September 1944