Debby and Charlie Main Page Alaska Australia-New Zealand South Africa Table of Contents

Start of Trip and International Peace Gardens ----- Day 3 drive to Dauphin, MB and Day 4 drive to The Pas, MB ----- Day 5 drive to Thompson, MB, ----- Day 12 drive to Grand Rapids, MB ----- Day 13 -15 drive to and visit Winnipeg


Churchill, MB and the Polar Bears

Our rooms weren't quite ready when we arrived at the Inn so we left our luggage in the Wagon Masters room and went exploring.


In town

There were a few stores near by. The first one was the Trading Post where we saw some very nice local artist stuff and met a personable young Dutchman from the Netherlands. He had come to Canada for college to study tourism and liked the North so much that he decided to relocate in Churchill. I also saw a beautiful handmade piece of two Eskimos in a canoe. It wasn't cheap but I would have bought it if we llived in a stick house. In our trailer we have no room for that kind of decorative stuff. In fact even amongst full timers a friend called us minimalists. We returned to the Inn and our room was ready. We moved our luggage in unpacked and it was lunch time. All things considered the food at the Inn was quite good by any standards not just in comparison with other restaurants we had eaten in on this trip. Shortly after lunch we had an appointment to tour the Eskimo Museum. Most of the group went the four blocks by bus, we walked. The museum was one large room with a lot of pictures and artifacts it was interesting but not time consuming.



Churchill has it's wolves as well

Debby returned to the Inn while I hung around to ask the Curator a question or two. She, along with a friend had walked around the outside of the School complex on the road along side the beach that people were not allowed on for safety reasons. Polar bears were known to frequent the beach and town. We were instructed if we heard fireworks to head for cover and duck into any nearby building.


Enterprise (Star Trek in Churchill)_________________________________ _Inukshuck

Our respective walks next to the beach were uneventful and we met up on the road near the Inn. From there we proceeded to walk down the towns main street and stopped in several gift stores. We didn't buy much except some gifts for the kids and a bottle of water. When we got back to the Inn it was dinner time so we went to dinner. We had instructed the Wagon Master that we wanted to be roused out if the Northern Lights were visible. That night they weren't. The next day we got up early about 6:30 for an early breakfast and a trip by bus out to the Tundra buggies. Our buggy driver Kevin turned out to be a knowledgable guide with a lot of information. It was cold and very windy on the tundra but we saw several polar bears. Probably would have seen more but Kevin told us that they were just as uncomfortable in the wind and hunkering down to keep a low profile. We had a coffee break and lunch of soup and sandwiches on the buggy prepared by the Gypsy Bakery in town. I am a soup fan and this was great soup. We returned to the Bus and went back to the Inn where we took a brief walk in town before going to dinner.

tundra buggyStove

Outside --------------------------------------------------Inside



sleeping bearbear

click on the pictures above for more Polar Bear pictures

The next day was Monday and Canada's Thanksgiving. This was a coincidence of our trip scheduling and not part of the trip design. The bus driver Paul picked us up after breakfast for a tour of Churchill. In retrospect the tour was somewhat lacking and possibly ill advised because it was on Canada's Thanksgiving. Admittedly I was not bored during the tour and didn't find it objectionable or problematic at the time. Thinking about it later I realized it was rather shoddy. We were taken to a site overlooking the Churchill river where we could see an abandoned fort on the far bank that we couldn't explore. We then drove past the grain elevators and the port which would have been interesting although the area was probably restricted. We also drove passed the multi function complex as well. I am sure some town official would have been more then happy to show us around. One of our group walked in on his own and was shown the curling rink, pool and arena, the building also includes the school that Debby and I had walked around a bowling alley and maybe more. I think some of us might have enjoyed a trip to the power plant and a Parks Canada presentation concerning the historic train station if such could have been arranged. There is also a research facility in town which might have been more interesting then what we did and I don't doubt that the RMCP (Royal Mounted Canadian Police) would have been happy to meet with us and tell us more about the community then the tour driver did.


We did stop on the road adjacent to the Hudson Bay and were able to stick our feet in the bay which was in the adjoining province of Nunevet.

beachHudson Bay

Photo by Steven Krauss

Steve and Marcvy


Unfortunately one lady did fall and injure herself. Luckily it was not a serious injury. Given the age of the group it was surprising that more of us didn't fall and injure ourselves. The tour also included a stop at a crashed cargo plane, amazingly intact, and visit to the tour guides house which was interesting and provided an opportunity to see aspects of the culture not otherwise seen.

cargo Plane

The Polar Bear Jail was the highlight of this tour. Bears come into town. While people are not generally seen by them as food I don't think they would hesitate if the opportunity presented itself. There is other food in town as well. Bears are nothing if not smart and inquisitive. Bears coming into town are marked from a distance obviously and then scared away with fire works. If they return three times they are captured usually with a dart gun and placed in the Polar Bear prison, a large corrugated building with holding cells. Bears can hear and smell but not see each other or the human keepers.

bear prisonbear traps

After several days in captivity they are airlifted by helicopter and placed far from town.

bear in net

Picture by Steven Krauss

On each occasion the color of the marking is changed. If they return for a third visit they are put down. After the tour the bus dropped us off at the Gypsy Bakery for a pleasant lunch.

gypsy bakery

Since stores are usually closed on Sunday our trip planners thoaght we could shop Monday so the original plan was for us to spend the afternoon shopping in the many gift shops. Unfortunately since it was Thanksgiving many of these stores were closed although a few gift shops did open for us and I baught two shirt in a store where the shoppkeeper left her thanksgiving dinner table to serve us. The inn restaurant prepared and served a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner for us before they all sat down for their own thanksgiving dinner. The dinner was much like the American Thanksgiving dinner we were familiar with, turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin or apple pie. The waitress was kind enough to serve me apple pie ala mode even though it wasn't on the menu.

That night we were rousted out before we had gone to bed for the Northern Lights which despite the clouds were quite colorful. The next day our last in Churchill it had snowed over night and everything was covered by a light dusting of snow. After breakfast the bus took us out to the Tundra Buggy for the days tour. Despite the covering of snow it was a pleasant day and we saw more polar bears.

polar bear

Click for another gallery and more Polar Bears,

tundra hoteltundra hotel


On each of the two days out on the Tundra we saw some great sceanery and we passed several Tundra Hotels. A Tundra Hotel is similar to the Tundra Buggys but they are larger and stationary even thou on wheels and are outfited with a kitchen,dining room, showers and sleeping quarters. As you can see in several pictures the bears are all around and often come visiting.

We also saw arctic hares a red fox, several arctic foxes and a lone caribou before heading back for an early dinner.

red foxartic foxcariboo

After dinner we checked out of the Inn and went to the Historic Train Station to board our train for the overnight trip to Thompson. Our Wagon Master really didn't understand what a berth was so he couldn't describe them. There weren't enough rooms to go around so several of us had to be in berths. Even though a drawing was held Debby and I volunteered for berths planning to stay up reading and dozing all night. Unfortunately the Portess (female for porter) had set up the berth for sleeping. At first we hung out in the dining car but after a while decided to give the berths a try. They were just like in the movies where the seat comes down and forms a bed. I had been in such a train when I was 3 1/2 going with my Mother to Florida but I can't say I remember them. The berths were more then adequate, roomy and quite comfortable. Although I hadn't been in an upper since my Army days I didn't mind climbing. We had breakfast on the train and pulled into Thompson about noon. The rig was warm and comfortable at 50 degrees although we did turn up the heat immediatly on our return. While we were in Churchill our furneces had used about two thirds of a 40 Lb. propane bottle. Even though I still had the other third and a full 40 LB. bottle I decided to refill what had been used anyway. We had one night left in Thompson and one night boondocking on our way to Winnipeg and I didn't want to chance running out of propane. As a group we car pooled to the local Thompson museum. The same museum that Debby and I had parked at on the second day in Thompson when we walked on the Spirit Path. The museum presented an interesting history of Thompson and nickel mining as well as displaying the usual indigenous stuffed animals. After the tour of the museum I went for gas and we settled in for the evening.

Start of Trip and International Peace Gardens ----- Day 3 drive to Dauphin, MB and Day 4 drive to The Pas, MB ----- Day 5 drive to Thompson, MB, ----- Top of page Day 7 - 10 ----- Day 12 drive to Grand Rapids, MB ----- Day 13 -15 drive to and visit Winnipeg

Debby and Charlie Main Page Alaska Australia-New Zealand South Africa Table of Contents