Resolute is one of Canada's northernmost communities and is second only to Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island. It is also one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, with an average yearly temperature of −15.7 °C. As of the 2016 census the population was 198, a decrease of 7.5% from the 2011 census. Like in most other northern communities, the roads and most of the terrain are all gravel.
The area shows evidence of being occupied sporadically by the Dorset culture (Tunit) and later the Thule people from as early as 1500 BCE until 1000 CE. However, modern Inuit did not occupy or use the area until the 1953 relocation.
In 1947 Canada and the United States built a weather station, Resolute Weather Station, and an airstrip as part of the Joint Arctic Weather Stations, known today as the High Arctic Weather Stations. This was followed in 1949 by a Royal Canadian Air Force base, RCAF Station Resolute Bay. At that time the population was made up of military personnel and specialists, such as meteorologists, from the south. Today the base serves as a starting point for Arctic research and access to both the North Pole and the North Magnetic Pole.
Named after the Arctic exploration vessel HMS Resolute, the community of Resolute got its start in 1953 as part of the High Arctic relocation. Efforts to assert sovereignty in the High Arctic during the Cold War, because of the area's strategic geopolitical position, led the Government of Canada to forcibly relocate Inuit from northern Quebec to Resolute (and to Grise Fiord). The first group of people, which included one Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, Ross Gibson, who was also to become the community's first teacher, were relocated in 1953, along with a second group in 1955, from Inukjuak, Quebec (then known as Port Harrison), and from Pond Inlet, Nunavut. They were promised homes and game to hunt, but the relocated people discovered no buildings and very little familiar wildlife. They also had to endure weeks of 24-hour darkness during the winter, and 24-hour sunlight during the summer, something that does not occur in northern Quebec. They were told that they would be returned home after a year if they wished, but this offer was later withdrawn as it would have damaged Canada's claims to sovereignty in the area and the Inuit were forced to stay. Eventually, the Inuit learned the local beluga whale migration routes and were able to survive in the area, hunting over a range of 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) each year.
In 1993, the Canadian government held hearings to investigate the relocation program, and the following year the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued a report entitled The High Arctic Relocation: A Report on the 1953–55 Relocation. The government paid $10 million CAD to the survivors and their families, and gave a formal apology in 2008.
The community was originally built 5 km (3.1 mi) from the base but by the 1970s the number of research people arriving in Resolute was causing problems. Between 1974 and 1975 the community was moved to a location allowing better municipal services, but poorly sited for hunting purposes.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, people in this remote community have a low unemployment rate. Most citizens are employed at least part of the year; however, with 2010s changes to American policy toward polar bear hunting, the local economy is at risk as many Inuit cater to American sport hunters seeking polar bear trophies.
On August 8, 2007, CBC News reported that Canadian Forces documents showed plans to build an army training centre in the community along with a $60 million deepwater port at Nanisivik 370 km (230 mi) to the southeast.
On August 10, 2007, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the construction of a pair of multimillion-dollar military facilities within the contested waters of Canada's Arctic territory. The facilities consist of a new army training centre at Resolute, and a deep-sea port at Nanisivik Naval Facility. A statement issued by the Prime Minister says, "The Training Centre will be a year-round multi-purpose facility supporting Arctic training and operations, accommodating up to 100 personnel. Training equipment and vehicles stationed at the site will also provide an increased capability and faster response time in support of regional military or civilian emergency operations."
The Tudjaat Co-op, part of the Arctic Co-operatives, runs a grocery/retail store and a hotel. There is also an airport gift shop called Polar Bear Hut.
The town has three hotels – Qausuittuq Inns North, South Camp Inn, and the Airport Hotel – which have fewer than 100 rooms each, and several lodges. Other facilities include a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment, a school (which provides education from kindergarten to Grade 12) and a gym.
Resolute has a polar arctic climate with long cold winters and short cool summers. Resolute's average high for the year is −12.7 °C (9.1 °F) while the average low for the year is −18.6 °C (−1.5 °F). Resolute has a very dry climate with an average precipitation of 161.2 mm (6.35 in) a year, most of it falling as snow from August to September. The record high for Resolute is 20.1 °C (68.2 °F) on July 2, 2012. The record low for Resolute is −52.2 °C (−62 °F) on January 7, 1966.
Resolute has never experienced an above freezing temperature between October 20 and May 6.
Between around April 30 and August 13, Resolute experiences midnight sun, whilst between around November 7 and February 4 there is polar night. Between late November and mid-January the sun is so low that there is not even civil twilight, with the only exception from complete darkness being a deeper blue sky called nautical twilight at noon, but there is no true experience of 24 hours of pitch black darkness around noon. that occurs for a few hours in mid-day. For about two weeks before and after the midnight sun in Resolute, the nights are still quite bright since it does not get any darker than civil twilight (this is the twilight where surrounding objects are still visible and outdoor activities can go on without the need for artificial lighting). Resolute, however, does not experience night (the phase of day) from about March 14 to September 29.
Resolute does experience thunderstorms during the summer but they are typically rare in the region.
Besides hunting guides and hotels Resolute has mixed and small sized employers:
Limited services available with most in Iqaluit and Ottawa:
Although not as busy as it once was, Resolute Bay Airport is still the core of the town, serving as an aviation hub for exploration in the region and connected by direct service to Iqaluit.
Within the community, most travel is by snowmobile and walking. Cars are limited. There are no taxis or public transit but hotels offer shuttle service.
Joseph Idlout, grandfather of singer Lucie Idlout and father of Leah Idlout, the community's second teacher, moved to Resolute in 1955 from Pond Inlet. Idlout, an Inuk hunter who was the subject of two National Film Board documentaries, Land of the Long Day, filmed in 1952 in Pond Inlet, and Between Two Worlds in 1990. He was for a time one of the most well-known Inuit and was shown on the back of the Canadian two-dollar bill.
Resolute is the starting point for both the Polar Race and the Polar Challenge, in which teams race the 350 nautical miles (648 km; 403 mi) to the North Magnetic Pole.
In 2007, the British television team Top Gear embarked from Resolute and became the first team to reach the 1996 position of the magnetic north pole with automobiles, with Jeremy Clarkson and James May reaching the Pole in a UK plated 2007 Toyota Hilux 3.0 litre Diesel heavily modified by an Icelandic team on a mixture of diesel and avgas, against Richard Hammond who was being pulled by a team of sled dogs.