Answer to Quiz #76 - September 10, 2006
Many thanks toBetsy Scott who submitted this week's quiz photo.
Where is this church located?
Answer: Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church
the "Igloo Church" is located in Downtown Inuvik
on Mackenzie Road, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada
Quiz Tip
The details in a picture can be important, but the major features are often the clue that
will give it away. In this case, it was the
shape of the church that was important. It
resembles an igloo.  If you search Google on Igloo Church, you will find many
websites with pictures of Our Lady of Victory Church.
Our Lady of Victory
Imperial Oil Review, Winter 2001 Volume 85  Number 443
The [Igloo] church was designed by a
local Catholic missionary, Brother Maurice
Larocque, and was largely built by
volunteers. Construction began in 1958
and took two years. The problem facing
anyone building in the Arctic is that the
permafrost (that layer of ground that
remains frozen year round) must be
shielded from melting or the building on
top of it will shift and settle and,
consequently, be damaged. Brother
Larocque came up with a unique solution
for the igloo church. It would have a
double shell and would sit on a
gravel-filled, saucerlike structure that
would be set into the ground. The design,
Brother Larocque correctly deduced,
would prevent heat from the building from
transferring to the permafrost.

At nearly 23 metres in diameter and
standing almost 21 metres (about six
storeys) high, the church was not easy to
build, especially in the Arctic, where
supplies are not readily available. Much of
the wood used in the construction was
transported by boat from Fort Smith,
N.W.T., 1,400 kilometres to the southeast.
And, reflecting a spirit of community
cooperation and involvement, the structure
incorporates recycled local materials
ranging from old hockey sticks to
discarded metal sheeting.

The entire cost of building the church was
$70,000, which was a considerable
achievement even by 1958 standards. Our
Lady of Victory was blessed by Bishop
Paul Piché of Fort Smith on August 5,

Much has changed in Inuvik since my first
visit nearly 30 years ago. But not the igloo
church. Now more than 40 years old, it is
still going strong. "It's quite amazing,"
says Garry Smith, a maintenance manager
with the local housing authority and a
member of the congregation who has lived
in Inuvik for a decade. "The structure has
not shifted at all in any way. In this
The Igloo Church
Copyright Harry Palmer 1997
environment, that's a real tribute to its design and the people who built it."
– Wynne Thomas
Two other views of the Igloo Church
Mona Thrasher was born in 1942 in a bush camp between
Aklavik and present day Inuvik. At a young age, a hunting
accident left her partially deaf and mute. Mona is a self
taught artist, with no formal training. At the age of 18, she
was approached by Father Adam to paint the Stations of the
Cross in the Roman Catholic Church in Inuvik (the Igloo
Church). Even though she had never done such a large
project, Father Adam knew she was capable. It took Mona
just three months to paint all 14 Stations, which still hang in
the church today. Since then she has created many paintings, mainly using the colours
Blue and White because she believes they best represent the traditional Inuit life - the
sky, water, snow and ice. She hopes that through her art, people get a better
understanding of the North and its people.
Inuvik, North West Territories, Canada
INUVIK – "the place of man" – is the farthest north
you can drive on a public highway in North
America, unless, that is, you wait for the winter
freeze and follow the ice road carved across the
frozen sea to the north. Canada's first planned town
north of the Arctic Circle, Inuvik was begun in
1954 as an administrative centre to replace Aklavik,
a settlement to the west wrongly thought to be
doomed to envelopment by the Mackenzie's
swirling waters and shifting mud flats. Finished in
1961, it's a strange melting pot of around 3000
people, with Dene, Métis and Inuvialuit living
alongside the trappers, pilots, scientists and frontier
entrepreneurs drawn here in the 1970s when a
boom followed the oil exploration in the delta.
Falling oil prices and the rising cost of exploitation,
however, soon toppled the delta's vast rigs and it
seems the oil is destined to remain largely untapped
until well into this century. Today the local
Click on thumbnail to
see that Inuvik is in the
middle of nowhere.
City of Inuvik Logo
The light green teepee represents the
Dene, the igloo represents the Inuit and
the dark green house represents the
Non-natives who live in Inuvik. The
Gold bands are the rays of the midnight
sun unifying all three major ethnic
groups which create the community
known as Inuvik, the "Living Place."
Each group comprises approximately
one third of the town's population
(Inuvialuit, Gwich'in, and other).
For community profile
of Inuvik, click
economy also relies on government jobs, services and the town's role as a supply and
communication centre for much of the western Arctic. Due to its location, this town
experiences an average of 56 days of continuous sunlight every summer and 30 days of
continuous night every winter. It is located East Channel of the Mackenzie Delta,
approximately 100 km from the Arctic Ocean and approximately 200 km north of the
Arctic Circle. and
Don Bain's Virtual Guidebook to the Northwest Territory
To see a really cool 360 deg panorama of Downtown Inuvik,
including the Igloo Church, click
This is where the Dempster Highway ends — Inuvik, 456 unpaved miles north from
Dempster Corner on the Klondike River. There is a winter-only road that continues
north from here to Tuktoyaktuk, and even to offshore islands, but it can only be
traveled when the lakes, rivers, and tundra are frozen solid. Inuvik is Canada's
northernmost modern town, located almost 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was
built by the Canadian government in 1955-63, largely because the existing town in the
area, Aklavik, seemed about to be washed away by the Mackenzie River. Every building
in town was built on pilings, to prevent melting of the permafrost. Central heat, water,
power, and sewage are provided through a system of insulated above ground "utilidors"
connecting all buildings — utilities cannot be buried in the frozen ground. The
population of about 3000 is split more or less evenly between Athapascan Indians (the
Déné), Eskimos (Inuit), and other Canadians, many of them working for the
government. Points of interest in this panorama are Boreal Books (in the red building),
the distinctive Igloo Church, and one of the town's large pubs.
For instructions on how to build an igloo, click here.
Comments from Our Readers
This was a good one, not hard at all. I was done in 5 minutes with it. The shape of the
church. At first I thought it was a military base with the painted rocks around the
lawns, but the military would have most likely built a quonset hut. I then put "IGLOO
CHURCH" in Google image search and bingo lots of pictures and details.

Yes look for the details, but when the details are lacking stay mindful of the whole
picture. After all a picture is worth a thousand words or just one in this case, "IGLOO"!
                                                                                     Fred Stuart

Hope you get good responses to Betsy Scott's photo. It was a challenge for me and
my wife until she said it looked like an igloo. Bingo!                                   
Stan Read

It was obviously a church and from the general architecture of the surrounding pictures
I assumed it was either a military installation or other government type installation, such
as used in remote camps and in the Arctic.  I searched on military and church, but that
got me no where.  As we can't seem to forego any opportunity to give things
nicknames, I then searched on igloo and church.  This led me to Oh yeah,
also, the white painted rocks.  I've only seen that on military installations and other
government installations (camps, reservations, etc.).
                            Rick Norman

Now I remember the word I was searching for- IGLOO!!  Looks like I made a couple
correct deductions,  though- Catholic Church, Coastal, Not-Metropolitan…I’m
ambivalent about whether or not I can take credit for the “touristy” deduction—The
coloring is obviously more ice-like…                                                     
Mary Fraser

I'd almost given up when wham! last night in bed I was pondering on the church and
thought ... it looks a bit like an igloo ... Today I Googled "igloo church" and it came up
straight away!!!!                                                                         
Elizabeth Mackie

Someplace tacky.  Painted white rocks are usually found on army bases.  The hastily-
put-up steel buildings and the uncut weeds and the grave in the front yard (!) indicate it
is someplace temporary.  "Round church" did not reveal the location, and the
hieroglyphics on the doors do not mean anything to me.  I do know that the members
speak English.                                                                                 
Marilyn Hamill

Hi Colleen, You are getting so good with your quizzes, but I am not.  In my massive
effort this week I found this really neat site but I did not find the answer.
http://www. I had no idea there were so many alphabets.

I was looking for the letters that were on the two doorways of the church.  This was
pretty neat. It didn't help me, but I found the Cherokee alphabet that my daughter can
use to show my grandsons and connect it with our Indian (1/128) ancestry.  Also the
Hieroglyphic letters that my grand daughter is totally into.  It was an instructive week.  
Sorry no answer.
                                                                                   Eva Royal
Congratulations to our winners!

Misty Bogle                Carol Haueter
Sue Edminster                  Rick Norman
Debbie Sterbinsky                Susan Edminster
Edee Scott                        Mary Fraser
David Lepitre                Elizabeth Mackie

If your name has been omitted from our list of winners, please let me know.  It was unintentional.
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the
Forensic Genealogy book.
Quiz #76 Results