5 Fascinating Islands of Canada

February 4th, 2019

Canada has more coastline than any other country. It borders the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. A country surrounded by that much water is going to have some islands, and Canada has its fair share.

No doubt you've heard of the Canadian islands that are most popular with tourists, like Vancouver and the Prince Edward Islands. There are travel websites where you can read about those places—our thing is geography!

This article focuses on five Canadian islands that reflect the geographic diversity of their country. Take Baffin Island, for example. It's huge, cold, and hosts a large population of lemmings. Victoria is the second largest Canadian island, and from the air, it looks like a Canadian maple leaf. We'll cover details like that, and more.

Like the lemmings of Baffin Island, let's dive head first into this tour of five fascinating Canadian islands!


Baffin Island
Baffin Island polar bear.

When we think about Canada and its provinces, it's easy to forget about the territories. A huge chunk of Northern Canada is divided into three territories: Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

Nunavut is the farthest north, and it is home to Baffin Island, Canada's largest island, and the world's fifth-largest island. Its area is 195,928 sq mi and the island has about 11,000 residents.

Baffin Island has been inhabited for over 3,000 years, first by a Paleo-Eskimo culture, then by ancestors of the Inuit people. It was named for English explorer William Baffin, but Bjarni Herjolfsson, a Norse-Icelandic explorer, got there much earlier than Baffin did. In around 985, while trying to get to Greenland, he was blown off course and became the first European to see Baffin Island.

Baffin’s remote Arctic landscape gives it a rugged beauty. It's home to hundreds of animal species, including barren-ground caribou and polar bear. The island is teeming with Arctic hare and lemmings, which is good for the resident Arctic foxes, as hare and lemmings are their primary source of food.


Rene-Lavasseur island on Gogle Maps.

Located in Quebec, René-Levasseur Island is the world's second largest lake island, ceding the top spot to another Canadian island, Manitoulin, in Lake Huron.

The island is in the middle of Lake Manicouagan, which was formed when a meteorite struck the Earth over 214 million years ago. It was one of the most powerful impacts that our planet has ever experienced.

René-Levasseur Island has a total area of only 780 sq mi, but it supports a remarkable concentration of old-growth forest. Many environmental groups have recommended that it be protected, proposing that it be declared a Canadian National Park or an ecological reserve.


The Canadian Arctic Archipelago sits right between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. That island group includes Victoria, the eighth largest island in the world. It's Canada's second largest island; Victoria's total area is 83,897 sq mi.

The island is home to a species of caribou that's endemic to Canada. A large herd of migratory barren-ground caribou live on Victoria Island, but only during the summer. They annually migrate across the Dolphin and Union Strait to their winter home, the rugged terrain of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

The island's coastline features numerous indentations, and, weirdly, it resembles that most recognizable of Canadian symbols, a maple leaf.


Colorful houses built on the rocky slope of the Signal Hill in St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.

Newfoundland is located in the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, just off the east coast of the Canadian mainland. It's part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and is home to most of the province's residents.

With an area of 42,031 sq mi, Newfoundland ranks as the 16th-largest island in the world, and Canada's fourth-largest island.

The island was first settled by an ancient Paleo-Eskimo culture. Icelandic Vikings visited during the 11th century, and later, migratory fishermen came from Europe.

Princess Royal Island

Princess Royal Island is located off the coast of British Columbia and is part of that province. At 869 sq mi in total area, it's the fourth largest island in British Columbia.

This island is in the middle of nowhere! Situated 320 mi north of Vancouver and 120 mi south of Prince Rupert, you can only get to Princess Royal Island by boat or air.

This remote island is uninhabited, but, over the years, it has served as a temporary home for those involved in gold-mining, fishing, and logging.

In 1950, The U.S. Airforce lost a nuclear weapon in the vicinity of Princess Royal Island. A plane carrying the device crashed into nearby Mount Kologet. The crew ejected, and after the incident, 12 of the 17 airmen were found alive on Princess Royal Island.