Churchill, Manitoba


Churchill is a town of 900 or so up around the Manitoba-Nunavut border (picture stopping for gas in downtown Minnesota - then heading another 850 miles due north as the crow flies). Full-on Canadian tundra on the shore of Hudson Bay. Churchill is also the polar bear capital of the world.

My son was in grade 10 (just started grade 12 this week) when a teacher at his school first approached us about having him spend some time in Churchill on a University of Manitoba polar bear expedition. We got more details and decided sure - might as well let him go before the polars bears go extinct.

This was an educational & humanitarian 2 week excursion with a handful of University profs and 22 high school students across the greater Toronto region. They brought along 400 pounds of fruits and vegetables and about double weight in household items - your diapers, toothpaste, etc. A good will gesture towards the indigenous folks who don't often get to go shopping...

Lots of indigenous studies background in Winnipeg for a couple days before they went up so they wouldn't look quite so much like "tourists". They were also given a tour of the genetics labs at the U & the Winnipeg Zoo pertaining to their polar bear and beluga whale research they would be involved with.

Most all of the pictures my son took include high school age females for some reason, but I can post a couple.

They got lucky and had ideal northern lights the first night in Churchill - and my son decided not to take pictures since he wanted to experience them, not watch through his phone. Well done, son. Too bad clouds covered the sky for the next 10 nights as temps went down. By the last three days of August, they were in full winter jackets/gloves/toques, etc and lucky if the windchill was above 0C. Winds in the 50 mph range kept them from getting audio recordings of belugas, but they did get to go out on the Bay one day to search for pre tagged belugas. Another day was too windy for a flight to an outpost in Nunavut so he spent the day tracking caribou through Wapusk National Park. I've never heard of that park either...

This one is from their tundra buggy. They were not permitted to leave the compound in Churchill without armed guards with them. He said every single day had polar bears wandering through town. Usually 3 or 4 at a time.


 There are 2 behind the tree, sleeping...


This is where the ones that come into town wind up until they can be moved back into the wild.



Damn.  Quite the high school field trip.  Glad your boy got to experience that.  

Thanks Ken. 

He's a good kid - who has lucked out by having a couple teachers willing to challenge him along the way. This trip was through a different high school, but his biology teacher made the arrangements for him to be included.

One of the profs he met has reached out to us to see if he might like to join a smaller trip (2 profs, 5 doctorate students) to Iceland in the spring around Easter. 


I know it wasn't Betsy that said something like "I love the poorly educated", but when I see her on the news I just shake my head...

Great experiences in special places! First time for me to see Manitoba. Thanks.

when we got to winnipeg...


nice photos and a great experience for the lad, a memory he will have forever. imagine the stories he will have when he starts uni next year. it's great to be able to have the oppurtunity to send the kids on adventures, i'm sure he appreciated you and the wife sending him

Wow. A school trip? Thanks for sharing. Closest I’ll ever get to manitoba right there.

Back in the mid 80's Me And My Uncle took a road trip to Churchill to see Polar Bears. We drove and camped from the Philly area as far as we could go, which was Thompson, Manitoba and from there we took the train north to Churchill. All we had was paper maps and phone booths! I remember making a call on a phone booth that had some kind of dish on it for the uplink and driving through areas of wildfires where we had to assemble in a convoy and be escorted through the burn areas. Didn't see polar bears, wrong season, but Beluga whales were abundant. I think we are lucky to have had no issues, but then again my Uncle did homestead land in Alaska, build his own cabin and live off the land so I had good experience with me.