Did you know that Canada has more land mass in the Arctic region than any other country?
It's true! Canada has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, yet much of its vast northernly region remains unexplored and uninhabited.
Lucky are the travelers who have already experienced the wonders of the great Canadian Arctic, namely the wildlife, the rugged terrain, amazing ice formations, the Indigenous history, Inuit settlements, and the remote bodies of water that make up the incredible North. But explorers of the Canadian Arctic are sure to fall in love with this unique and exciting destination.
One of the most fascinating and visually stimulating destinations in the Canadian Arctic is Devon Island. It’s one of many islands in Baffin Bay that are part of Nunavut, a Canadian territory largely inhabited by the Inuit, who have lived in northern Canada since long before the arrival of European explorers.
On the Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland expedition, you'll have the chance to explore the north shores of Canada and western coast of Greenland to search for wildlife and visit local communities where visitors will gain insights into cultural art, traditions and modern ways of life in the Arctic.
Where is Devon Island?
Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada is one of many islands that make up the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, a term that describes the most northern islands in the nation.
Devon Island is the second-largest in a chain of islands called the Queen Elizabeth Islands. Located in northern Canada, Devon Island also the sixth-largest island in the entire country.
Sailing a passage through Baffin Bay, a large body of water that separates the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from neighboring Greenland is how to get to Devon Island. Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada, is situated south of Devon Island on the other side of the bay.
Baffin Island’s breathtaking glaciers and picturesque natural wonders separate the two islands, providing adventurers with incredible views as they navigate through Baffin Bay. Devon Island is often reached through the Arctic waterway just off the coast of the island called Croker Bay.
Fun facts about Devon Island
Now, let’s talk about some interesting facts about Devon Island.
First and foremost, it is the largest uninhabited island in the entire world. To this date, there are no permanent human residents on Devon Island, and one of the main reasons is that it’s colloquially known as “Mars on Earth”.
Indeed, much of the land is a polar desert, with its harsh climate and freezing temperatures, marked by shades of red that make the landscape resemble the red planet of Mars.
In 2019, a team of researchers published their findings on the island on Google Street Views, allowing would-be adventurers to get a visual preview of the Mars on Earth environment of Devon Island before their arrival.
Despite its lack of permanent human residents, there is life on Devon Island in the form of rich and diverse vegetation and wildlife. Most of the precipitation occurs in an area of the island known as the Truelove Lowland Area, which is where an abundance of water accumulates throughout the year.
Devon Island is covered in snow for almost the entire year, and only snow free for fewer than two months—which means the window of opportunity is limited if you wish to experience Devon Island without snow!
Devon Island Wildlife
Despite the ruggedness of Devon Island, the area offers explorers a chance to experience what life in a terrain resembling Mars might be like without requiring long space flights!
There are wild animals that roam across the island, including musk oxen, which are native to the Arctic and known for their thick coats and musty odors used to attract the opposite sex. You may have a chance to witness musk oxen as they graze the land while you're out venturing on a kayak through the Canadian Arctic.
The wildlife in the Arctic is vastly different than what you would find on a polar expedition to the Antarctic which is one of the ways that exploring the northern Arctic differs from the southern Antarctic.
Wildlife and bountiful natural wonders are the main highlights of the Arctic Express Canada: The Heart of the Northwest Passage adventure. This is a 9-day experience that begins with a flight from Toronto to the northern town of Resolute, Nunavut.
From Resolute, you will embark on your sea voyage and sail through much of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, including a voyage that shows you how to get to Devon Island. You’ll have the chance to see musk oxen, walruses, and polar bears and witness the Devon Ice Cap, one of the largest glacial features in the Canadian Arctic.
How to get to Devon Island
The fabled Northwest Passage was a trek through the Canadian Arctic undertaken by many European explorers in search of a direct route to mainland China.
One of those voyages was undertaken by Sir John Franklin, who led what became known as the Franklin Expedition through the Canadian Arctic in 1845.
Retrace the path taken by the Franklin Expedition on our coveted Northwest Passage: In The Footsteps of Franklin expedition. This 17-day voyage begins with a flight from Toronto eastbound to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Once you arrive in Greenland, you’ll board your vessel and sail northwest through Baffin Bay towards the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Devon Island is one of the scheduled stops on this journey. You’ll sail into the port of Dundas Harbor and have an opportunity to visit an abandoned beachside outpost once manned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Your adventure guides will point out landmarks and other historic sites that commemorate the history of explorers who navigated these frigid waters before you and paved the way for others to learn how to get to Devon Island and experience the wonders of a polar desert setting.
Many Arctic travelers' first sight of Devon Island is from the decks of ships sailing in Croker Bay. In fact, South Croker glacier is part of the massive Devon Ice Cap.