New Ways of Mapping: Using GPS Mapping Software to Plot Place Names and Trails in Igloolik (Nunavut)


  • Claudio Aporta



Inuit place names, Inuit trails, mapping, Geographic Information System, GIS, Global Positioning System, GPS, Igloolik, toponymy


The combined use of a GPS receiver and mapping software proved to be a straightforward, flexible, and inexpensive way of mapping and displaying (in digital or paper format) 400 place names and 37 trails used by Inuit of Igloolik, in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. The geographic coordinates of some of the places named had been collected in a previous toponymy project. Experienced hunters suggested the names of additional places, and these coordinates were added on location, using a GPS receiver. The database of place names thus created is now available to the community at the Igloolik Research Centre. The trails (most of them traditional, well-traveled routes used in Igloolik for generations) were mainly mapped while traveling, using the track function of a portable GPS unit. Other trails were drawn by experienced hunters, either on paper maps or electronically using Fugawi mapping software. The methods employed in this project are easy to use, making them helpful to local communities involved in toponymy and other mapping projects. The geographic data obtained with this method can be exported easily into text files for use with GIS software if further manipulation and analysis of the data are required.