Located at the southern tip of Baffin Island’s Foxe Peninsula Cape Dorset was named by Captain Luke Fox on September 24, 1631, after Edward Sackville, Earl of Dorset. Sackville, a Lord of the Admiralty. Sackville was one of Fox's sponsors in his unsuccessful attempt to find the Northwest Passage. The "cape" on Dorset Island is actually a 243 meter [798 feet] high mountain, part of the Kinngait Range. Kinngait means "high mountain" in Inuktitut, hence the name of the community.
Several Archaeological Sites of ancient Dorset people have been discovered that date back as far as 1000 B.C.
The Hudson Bay Company (HBC) founded a trading post here in 1913. Inuit people traded stretched furs, tanned skins and ivory narwhal tusks for supplies like tobacco, ammunition, kerosene, flour, tea and sugar. In 1947, an HBC supply ship called the RMS Nascopie ran aground off the shores of Dorset Island. Before it sank completely, the resourceful local Inuit people salvaged its supplies and retrieved wood from the ship to construct their homes.
At some point during the 1940s, the great Inuit photographer Peter Pitseolak acquired his first camera here from a Catholic missionary. Cape Dorset has since become a world-famous centre for Inuit drawing, printmaking and carving. In 1957, the Canadian artist, author and filmmaker James Archibald Houston established a graphic arts workshop here. This art studio experimented with etching, engraving, lithography and silkscreen printmaking techniques. Between 1959 and 1974, Cape Dorset artists produced more than 48,000 limited edition prints. Famous artists from Cape Dorset include Pudlo Pudlat and Kenojuak Ashevak. Canadian postage stamps and a Canadian quarter (25 cent piece) have featured Ashevak's distinctive drawings of snowy owls. The art classroom at Peter Pitseolak School is dedicated in Kenojuak's name.
Formally established as a hamlet in 1982, picturesque Cape Dorset is considered the "Inuit Art Capital of the World" due to the art industry employing almost a quarter of the population. Found off the southwest cost of Baffin Island (in the Hudson Strait), this isolated community of approximately 1500 people (over 90% of which are Inuit; 2006 Statistics Canada) is rapidly increasing, with a growing percent of its population (approximately 45%) under the age of 25. Cape Dorset is home to many services, including a Co-op, Northern Store, Hockey/Skating Rink, outdoor rink, a hotel, airport and other amenities.