After weeks of delay, ice and weather conditions in Frobisher Bay finally gave way this weekend, allowing a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker to carve a path to Iqaluit's shore for this season's first supply ships.  

"It's completely atypical. Usually by this date the first ships are already in Iqaluit for a few days," says Louis Robert, the marine communications and traffic services officer for the Coast Guard.

Robert says he has not seen delays like this in more than a decade.

The icebreaker Pierre Radisson had been waiting at the mouth of Frobisher Bay, with unseasonal ice conditions, fog and wind direction delaying its arrival.

Icebreaker approaches bay

The icebreaker Pierre Radisson had been waiting at the mouth of Frobisher Bay, with unseasonal ice conditions, fog and wind direction delaying its arrival. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

"In the middle of Frobisher Bay right now is a large floe of multi-year and first-year ice which exceeds approximately 10 kilometers in width," says Mike Desormeaux, the Coast Guard's acting regional director of the Coast Guard. He says southeast winds were keeping thick sea ice jammed in the bay.

The conditions also prevented anxious hunters and fishermen from getting their boats in the water.

"[In the] past 10 years we had been out boating before July 1," says Kowmagiak Mitsima, a lifelong hunter. "It was melting so fast."

With no roads to this territory, goods can only be sent by air or ship. Frozen waterways had meant empty shelves in the grocery stores and a lack of supplies in the city.

According to the Coast Guard, now that the ice has been broken, the first supply ships should be arriving in the next week or two.