How to Build an Igloo

This classic short film shows how to make an igloo using only snow and a knife. Two Inuit men in Canada’s Far North choose the site, cut and place snow blocks and create an entrance--a shelter completed in one-and-a-half hours. The commentary explains that the interior warmth and the wind outside cement the snow blocks firmly together. As the short winter day darkens, the two builders move their caribou sleeping robes and extra skins indoors, confident of spending a snug night in the midst of the Arctic cold!

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Douglas Wilkinson
Douglas Wilkinson
Michael Spencer
Chester C. Kissick
Neil Harris



    “Really interesting, have been researching this since seeing a documentary on Discovery about it, To fair seems like a skill in itself and I could imagine it would take more than the first attempt! Excellent article thanks John” — JAYJAY, 15 Feb 2014

  • Rhodora

    “Show it to your classroom. Explain to them that when the film was made (in 1949) we didn't know any better. I just showed it to my 4-year old (after building a snow fort in the back yard) and she loved it. ” — Rhodora, 10 Feb 2013

  • Lynne13

    “Having worked with the Inuit (Eskimo as the narrator calls them in this film) for several years I came to understand that the term "Eskimo" is extremely offensive to them. I enjoyed the film but could never show it in my classroom (I'm a teacher) because of the terminology. Perhaps this is what the fuss is all about??? ” — Lynne13, 12 Jan 2013

  • Nathaniel

    “I once built an igloo with a friend here in the UK, we only used a large kitchen knife and a sledge to move the snow to where we were building, it was great fun :)” — Nathaniel, 23 Nov 2012

  • tolora

    “Love these old films - reminds me of my school days. We were always excited as a classroom when the teacher would wheel in the film projector. As far as this film being unsuitable for a Christian audience . . . perhaps it has something to do with the way the narrator says 'fox skin'. I giggled a little when he said it, and then it hit me that perhaps that is what the highly sensitive borrower was referring too. Can't think of what else it would be.” — tolora, 1 Mar 2012

  • saxaphonium

    “It's a shame when people don't have the humanity to recognize the value of other ways of life, and in this case, justify the negative perception of Christians. As a counterpoint, as a Christian myself, I have a tremendous interest in and respect for the traditional skills and beliefs kept alive by indigenous peoples, and for organizations like the NFBC for archiving so many valuable videos.” — saxaphonium, 13 Oct 2010


    “When I was a young officer at the Canadian Embassy in Addis Ababa, back in 1966, we had a lending library of NFB films including this one. We once received this film back from a borrower with the comment "not suitable for a Christian audience". To this day I don't know what the problem was.” —, 22 Jan 2010

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