Happy Father’s Day from Churchill

Wishing all the dad’s a great day and special Father’s Day time with the kids! This beluga whale pod is all males looking for schools of capelin in the Churchill River. Enjoy!


Beluga whales in Churchill

A pod of male beluga whales enjoying the Churchill River. Natural Habitat photo.

Five Magnifico Churchill Sunset Photos

These five fantastic shots from Alex De Vries – Magnifico highlight the epic sunsets Churchill routinely sees this time of year. Maybe these images convey hope for the residents of Churchill and a solution for the damaged rail line to the south…a silver lining of sorts. Nothing can derail the natural beauty of the Hudson Bay region in Churchill! Enjoy!

Churchill Sunset over inukshuk

Sunset across the Hudson Bay and behind the inukshuk. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.


sunset over ice floes in Churchill

Sunset over the spring break – up in Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.


sunset ice floes churchill, Manitoba

Magnificent sunset over the ice floes in Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.


Inukshuk and sunset Churchill Manitoba

Wide view of the sunset and inukshuk in Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.


Churchill sunset and ice floes

Waning sunset over the ice floes in Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.


Churchill Mayor Spence and Citizen Speak about Railine

The train crisis in Churchill is becoming a hot issue and Mayor Mike Pence has spoken out against the projection by track owner Omnitrax of a winter or even spring repair order and opening. A town meeting last night in Churchill drew nearly half of the 900 residents in town.This issue will be one we follow for the forseeable future as it has incredible impact on Churchillians and travelers hoping to visit for beluga whale and polar bear season. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.


Five Epic Polar Bear Photos

Polar bear season is still almost four months away but these shots should get everyone excited for another magical fall in Churchill. We are sending all our best wishes and prayers for the people of Churchill as they deal with their lifeline, the Hudson Bay Rail line being washed out and needing repair so vital supplies can reach the town. Let’s hope polar bear season will provide some relief to all in the form of jobs and alternative forms of transporting goods to Churchill!

polar bear churchill, Manitoba

Hanging loose in Churchill. Jeff Klofft photo.


polar bear mother and cub in Churchill

Mother and cub polar bear relaxing on the Precambrian shield in Churchill. Katie de Meulles photo.


polar bear in fireweed Churchill, Manitoba

Polar bear in the fireweed in Churchill. Dennis Fast photo.


polar bear seal kill

Reality of nature. Polar bear hunting a seal on the pack ice. Roie Galitz photo.


Polar bears sparring in Churchill, MB.

Polar bears squaring off on the tundra. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.

Hudson Bay Rail Line Closes – Churchill Layoffs Loom

Owner and operator Omnitrax has shut down the Hudson Bay Rail line for the forseeable future due to flooding causing destruction of the tracks. Estimates for reopening are now being projected as far out as next spring.

The “unprecedented and catastrophic” damage will take months to repair, said Peter Touesnard, chief commercial officer at OmniTrax, the Denver-based owner of the rail line that brings supplies into Churchill. “Until we are able to get people physically on the ground and do a proper inspection, it’s difficult for us to truly know [how long repairs will take],” Touesnard.stated.

The closure is also straining the local economy and workforce preparing for the summer beluga whale season. Businesses are being forced to consolidate their work staff as the number of tourists traveling to Churchill this summer will be drastically reduced. News of at least five layoffs so far has spread and more are expected soon with the official announcement of the rail line suspension.

Tundra inn Churchill

Tundra Inn owner Belinda Fitzpatrick in front of her restaurant. Hannah Manczuk photo.

Belinda Fitzpatrick, owner of the Tundra Inn had to deliver the bad news to five workers last Saturday. “Quite heartbreaking,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was really upsetting.”

Plans for a seasonal restaurant at the Tundra Inn slated to open next week had to be put on the back burner. Other businesses are facing the same challenges as the the closure becomes a reality.

Fitzpatrick has been calling guests and seeing if they are able to fly to Churchill instead. However, cancellations have been coming in and she estimates she will lose a majority of travelers planning to stay at the inn and hostel.

OmniTrax is reporting unprecedented and catastrophic damage to the rail line caused by heavy flooding resulting from heavy snow pack left over from two massive March blizzards. The company says the track gravel bed has been washed out in 19 locations along the line. At least five bridges have visible damage and assessments of 600 culverts and around 30 more bridges will need to be examined for structural integrity.

Churchill flooding

Flooding in the Churchill area and south along the rail line have forced its closure. Ricci O’connor photo.

“While the Hudson Bay Railway requires significant seasonal maintenance, the extent of the damage created by flooding this year is by far the worst we have ever seen,” Touesnard said.

Fuel for the town is an especially critical commodity, and while the port could be used, at least during the ice-free season, winter will pose another extreme hurdle and potential emergency for all of Churchill.

Home hardware churchill Manitoba

Home Hardware in Churchill under stress from the rail line closure. Facebook photo.

Dale de Meulles and his wife Rhoda have run Churchill’s hardware and lumber store for the past 14 years and with the train out they will be unable to stock lumber and other building and home supplies sufficiently. Although competition in town is not there, they will have a tough time meeting expenses and payroll for 10 staff people without money coming in.

“We don’t know how we’re going to survive, to be honest,” said Rhoda de Meulles.

Dale de Meulles gives two months as a deadline for the layoffs. Last year’s Port of Churchill layoffs have already put pressure on the workforce in the town and the rail closure will continue that strife. Seasonal workers will also be hit hard without the tourism dollars coming in.

“We’re trying our best to keep them,” he said. “They gotta feed their families just like everybody else.”

“We’re just trying to survive.”

“As a Churchillian, we will never give up,” de Meulles said. “We’ve had so many hurdles in front of us and we keep jumping over them, but we need help this time.”

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