Coastal mountains at Canada's northern tip possess many of the desirable properties that make the Antarctic glacial
plateau attractive for astronomy: they are cold, high, dry, and in continuous darkness for several months in winter.
Satellite images suggest that they should also benefit from clear skies for a fraction of time comparable to the best mid-latitude
sites, and conventional site-selection criteria point to good seeing. In order to confirm these conditions, we are
testing three mountain sites on northwestern Ellesmere Island, in Nunavut. On each we have installed a compact,
autonomous site-testing station consisting of a meteorological station, a simple optical/near-infrared camera for sensing
cloud cover, and - at one site - a more advanced all-sky viewing camera. The systems were deployed by helicopter and
run on batteries recharged by wind (a compact methanol fuel cell is under study as a supplementary power source).
Effective two-way communications via the Iridium satellite network allows a limited number of highly compressed
images to be transferred. The full-winter dataset is stored at the site on flash-drives, thus requiring a return visit to
retrieve, but day-to-day station performance can be assessed using telemetry and a computer model. Based on site-testing
results, the plan is to select one site for the addition of a seeing monitor and a small but scientifically productive