Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Igloo Church

Possibly the Northwest Territories most iconic, most photographed structure, the Our Lady of Victory church in downtown Inuvik. Also known as the Igloo Church, it is a bleach-white cylinder capped by a silvery dome, imitating the Inuvialuit snow-houses of old and is truly unlike any other church on earth.

Our Lady of Victory Church
By Adam Jones, Ph.D. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The round or igloo shape was chosen to mitigate possible structural damage that might be caused by frost heave. Its unique structural system, "a dome within a dome", further protects the church with a foundation consisting of a bowl-shaped concrete slab on a gravel bed atop the permafrost and, in the building itself, an intricate system of wooden arches to support the load.

Interior of Our Lady of Victory Church
By Adam Jones, Ph.D. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Designed by Brother Maurice Larocque, a Catholic missionary to the Arctic who had previously been a carpenter, designed the church despite a lack of any formal architectural training, sketching it on two sheets of plywood that are prominently displayed in the building's upper storeys. Construction was started in the late 1950s  and completed by a group of volunteers in 1960. The church was then rebuilt in 2005. A trip north of the Artic Circle would no be complete without a photo in front of the Igloo Church.

What are 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here


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