Niels Rasch Egede founded the colony of Aasiaat in 1759 near Eqalussuit, north of Nassuttooq, on behalf of the Danish General Trade Company. The colony was named Egedesminde in memory of Niels Rasch Egede’s father, Hans Egede, who was the first missionary to arrive in Greenland. The colony was founded in an attempt to prevent Dutch whalers in trading with Greenlandic people. In 1761, Niels Egede was replaced by J.P. Dorf (1718-1787).
In 1761, the General Trade Company ordered J.P. Dorf to find a more geographically suited location for the colony. The colony was thus moved to the island of Aasiaat in the summer of 1763 under the direction of J.P. Dorf, Jens Schmidt, and Adam Thorning. The location was known by Dutch whalers as “Jesse Bay”. Egdesminde was the official name of the colony for many years to come, although Greenlandic people have always known it as Aasiaat, which is now its official name.
The General Trade Company had a monopoly on all Greenlandic commodities and a monopoly on selling all European commodities. The General Trade Company went bankrupt in 1774 and was replaced by The Royal Greenlandic Trading Department (Den Kongelige Grønlandske Handel, KGH, in Danish). KGH was economically secure due to the relatively dense population of the Disco Bay area, as well as the well-placed Aasiaat, and with it, trade with blubber, fox furs, sealskins, whale baleen, and eiderdown. Later, the colony became the trading- and administrative center of the southern part of the Disco Bay.
The greater surrounding area of the colony, with its many settlements, set the economic foundation for trade, and the relative density of the population furthered the emergence of proselytes, or, converts. The preaching of Christianity as well as education were important jobs for missionaries, and Hans Hansen Tulle became the first missionary in Aasiaat in 1768. In 1793, the population of Aasiaat was approximately 64 people, five of which were infidels. The Indigenous population’s nomadic way of life was one of the reasons for the hardships of missionary work in the first year. Over time, the missionary work was done with the help of the Indigenous catechists outreach to the settled population. A school for children was established in 1914, and in 1928, a boarding school for boys was established. The boy’s boarding school was followed by a girl’s boarding school in 1933, and the latter offered, as the first in Northern Greenland, educational teaching.