Omitrax Hit With Arson in The Pas

The Pas arson

Railroad ties owned by Omnitrax in the Pas were destroyed by arson. RCMP photo.

A $5,000 reward is being offered by Omnitrax Canada for information that helps locate an arsonist that destroyed about $1 million worth of railroad ties that were to be used this summer on the Hudson Bay rail – line.

Fire lit up the sky around 5:30 a.m. in The Pas Monday morning from the Hudson Bay Railway yard. With relations strained between local residents and Omnitrax due to their recent abandonment of the Port of Churchill, communities all along the Hudson Bay rail-line are running high on emotions.

Omnitrax will offer the bounty to someone who can supply information leading to both an arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fire. Fortunately, no people were injured during the blaze.

“We are very troubled by this terrible act,” Omnitrax Canada president Merv Tweed said in a release.

The company has set up a tip line at 204-947-0033. The local RCMP number is 204-627-6204.

Arctic Art Alert- Whitehorse Horse

The abundance of exhilarating art in the north has necessitated a periodic new posting on Churchillpolarbears.org. We will feature different stories of artists and their art that is prolific all over the Arctic and sub – Arctic. This week’s feature is this amazing found – object art metal horse known as the Whitehorse horse as it’s at the top of Two Mile Hill in Whitehorse,YT created by artist Daphne Mennell and welder Roger Poole. The sculpture is made from donated recycled materials and was dedicated in 2011.

Whitehorse horse Daphne Mennell.

The Whitehorse horse by artist Daphne Mennell. CBC north photo.

 

Whitehorse horse placard.

Placard at the Whitehorse horse. Sue Spargo photo.

 

Whitehorse horse Daphne Mennell.

Close – up of the Whitehorse horse by Daphne Mennell. Sue Spargo photo.

Train Finally Arrives in Churchill

A freight train loaded with food and supplies pulled into Churchill three weeks late on Monday afternoon. Since March 1st, trains have been unable to travel the heavily snow – drifted train tracks than wind there way to Churchill. Two massive blizzards had virtually shut down the town and depleted stores of food and other crucial necessities ..such as beer.

train in Churchill

Train with supplies finally makes it to Churchill. Rhonda Reid photo.

snowplow on train churchill

Vintage snow plow on the front of a via train. This is what connected Churchill to the outside world. Rhonda Reid photo.

Cold temperatures like Monday’s -40 C prevail thought the clearing visibility has allowed Omnitrax, owner of the rail line into Churchill, the ability to clear the tracks and allow trains to arrive from the south. Milk, fruit and vegetables were gone and meat of any variety was in short supply. Beer, in the one liquor store in town was down to a few cases.

After Churchill was hit by the third longest – lasting – blizzard in town history, residents began digging out of the massive snowfall that was accompanied by 31 hours of zero visibility and 58 long hours storm conditions.

The landscape in and around town out past the airport and beyond has been described as a moonscape by some. Purely surrealistic conditions!

Churchill blizzard

Blizzard ravished Churchill. Heidi Den – Haan photo.

 

 

Hudson Bay Quest Cancelled

Hudson Bay Quest musher and dogs.

Hudson Bay Quest musher off at the start. This year’s Quest is cancelled as a result of the recent blizzard! Brad Josephs photo.

Race organizers have made the decision to cancel the 2017 Hudson Bay Quest dogsled race due to the recent blizzard that buried the Churchill and Gillam regions this past week. The race was scheduled to depart Gillam this Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, and finish in Churchill.

Unsafe conditions are the main reasons for deciding to scrap the race this year as deep packed and drifting snow have blanketed the course and inhibited train service from Thompson to Churchill while track sections are being cleared. The train transports supplies as well as mushers and their dog teams to the race and serves as a lifeline to the south.

Just recently the Town of Churchill declared a State of Emergency, allocating resources toward snow removal and dealing with the aftermath of a storm that necessitated the Churchill community businesses to shut down for three full days last week. The race will be missed for sure, however the safety of the mushing teams and all support staff out on the trail between Gillam and Churchill is of prime importance.

Here is the official statement from the HBQ organizing committee: “While many sled dog races have cancelled due to lack of snow, we have wiped the smug looks off our faces now that we ultimately have too much snow. The Organizing Committee for the 2017 HBQ wishes everyone a safe and productive year as we navigate through this experience, and begin our planning for the 2018 Hudson Bay Quest.”

We look forward to the 2018 Hudson Bay Quest, back even stronger than before!

Churchill Blizzard Finally Subsides

Environment Canada defines blizzard conditions as visibility is less than 400 m resulting from blowing and/or falling snow for a minimum of four hours. Well, Churchill endured these conditions and more for over 56 hours and now the digging out begins.

Between 9 a.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m.Thursday the town and region was under siege from mother nature’s wrath and was under full blizzard conditions. Now the town looks like the north pole. Wind and frigid conditions have prevailed hindering clean – up efforts and it will be awhile before the town is functioning normally.

Peak gusts of 105 km/hr kept the town at a standstill with only the health center open after the loading dock was cleared and used as an entrance for patients. As usual in Churchill, snowfall will be hard to measure within town limits as the wind gusts move the snow into massive drifts. More accurate measurements can be found in the boreal forest but hard to reach for sure.

These photos are pretty unbelievable and are the most snow we have seen from one system in decades! What a ride the last few days have been for all the hearty Churchillians! We should be getting some epic northern lights shots within the next week with unique snow formations in the frames.

churchill blizzard

An eight-foot tunnel of snow to get into the house! Kelly Turcotte photo.

 

churchill blizzard

Churchill’s loader clearing the streets finally. Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

churchill blizzard

No way out of the human door even. Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

Churchill blizzard

Snow piled up in Churchill all the way to second story of apartments. Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

churchill blizzard

Churchill is surely snowbound. Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

churchill blizzard

Engine compartment of a Churchill vehicle. Belinda Fitzpatrick photo.

Churchill Blizzard Continues Raging

A hellacious blizzard is continuing to bury Churchill with heavy, drifting snow. People have been advised to remain inside and stay safe until the weather lets up sometime on Thursday. In many cases leaving the house isn’t a choice as snow buried any access to doorways anyway. Northern lights will obviously be obscured for awhile as the storm rages on. This is by far one of the most incredible storms in a long time that the town of Churchill has experienced! Stay safe and hopefully the newly updated Hydro system will keep power on!

 

Check out this video on location in Churchill!

Churchill blizzard

Snow creeps up to the edge of window in Churchill. Kelly Turcotte photo.

 

“Snowed in” just got real! Kelly Turcotte photo.

 

Blizzard Churchill 2017

Blizzard causes havoc in Churchill! Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

Churchill blizzard

Buildings are barely visible in Churchill. John Hrominchuk photo.

 

blizzard 17 churchill

Dogs getting out in Churchill blizzard. Jodi Grosbrink photo.

 

Pin It on Pinterest