The Franklinian sequence in the Canadian Arctic Islands may have been initiated by rifting in Late Proterozoic or Early Cambrian times. Unfortunately, no record of this early phase of basin evolution is exposed; the oldest known strata are weakly metamorphosed mudstones, limestones, and sandstones of the Kennedy Channel Formation. Although these have previously been considered late Precambrian in age, the presence of minor trilobite and brachiopod debris indicates an Early Cambrian age, possibly corresponding to a pre-Olenellus trilobite zone. Strata of the Kennedy Channel Formation reflect repeated progradation of shallow-water facies into a slowly subsiding basin that developed in response to subsidence at a late stage of rift development along the Franklinian shelf margin. The first two cycles involve storm- and tide-influenced clastics derived from the Precambrian Shield to the southeast, whereas the third and fourth cycles involve progradation of carbonate ramp and rimmed platform facies. The contact with overlying dolostones of the Ella Bay Formation represents a depositional and diagenetic facies boundary and not an unconformity.