Cold Season Dwellings
Inuvialuit traditionally used several types of dwellings during the long, cold and dark winter months.
The igluryuaq is often referred to today as a 'sod house', as it was built from a frame of driftwood and covered with layers of sod cut from the tundra. People entered through a long covered entrance passage dug below the level of the floor. In winter an igluryuaq would look like a large snow dome (Danish National Museum/Fifth Thule Expedition neg. 2845).
In the early 1900s Inuvialuit started using wood stoves in their sod houses instead of heating them with oil lamps. Tunnel entrances were no longer required, and instead people built sod houses with a door made of wood or skins. This type of sod house is known as a napaqtaq (NWT Archives/G79-001-302).
The kadjigi, also known as the 'men's house', was built from driftwood and sod. It had a single room, with benches along the sides. It was used by men as a sort of clubhouse, and by the entire community for festivities such as drum dancing and singing. This photograph shows a partially-destroyed kadjigi at Kittigaaryuk, near the mouth of the Mackenzie River, in 1909 (Public Archives of Canada/C23947).
'Iglu' in Inuvialuktun means 'house'. However, this general term also refers to the beehive-shaped houses made from blocks of snow. A large snow bench was built above the level of the floor to create a warm place to sleep. The entrance to the iglu was through a low passage, built of snow blocks below the level of the sleeping bench to keep the cool air outside (because cold air sinks and would be trapped in the entryway). When heated with an oil lamp, a bubble of warm air formed inside the iglu. A snow iglu could be built quickly, and was often used as temporary shelter while traveling or hunting.
1887 Les Grandes Esquimaux. E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie. (Translated and reprinted in 1981 as Among the Chiglit Eskimos. Translation of "Les Grandes Esquimaux", by E. Otto Höhn. Boreal Institute for Northern Studies, Occasional Paper No. 10, 1981.)
Émile-Fortuné Petitot (December 3, 1838-May 13, 1916), was an Oblate missionary who travelled extensively in the Canadian Northwest, and who wrote many articles and books about the aboriginal inhabitants of that region. Les Grandes Esquimaux, translated into English as Among the Chiglit Eskimos, describes his encounters with Inuvialuit in the Anderson River and Mackenzie River areas in the 1860s.