With Churchill’s northern light season just about a month away, here’s a video clip from Natural Habitat Adventures guide Drew Hamilton in the great white north….soon to be the great “green” north! Of course, aurora borealis occurs throughout the year in the Arctic and sub – Arctic, however, January through March is the prime window for viewing, when skies are the clearest. The Hudson Bay on the Churchill shores freezes over and no moisture rises to form cloud cover or fog. This season is promising to be one of high-intensity auroral action as we are still in a cycle of heavy solar flare activity. We will be posting regularly with all the news and views from the heart of the northern lights action in Churchill!
Anyone ever wonder how Arctic towns above the tree – line get their Christmas tree for holidays? Well, we just discovered the secret…is Santa flying that helicopter? Everything that happens in the Arctic is unique. Let’s hope we can protect this amazing land for future generations.
The tiny green dot descended upon the community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec in time for this year’s holiday season. Over 14 meters tall, this is the fifth year the community has had a community Christmas tree delivered from the heavens.
Mayor Tunu Napartuk has a vivid memory of that first occasion.
“I was there, and I remember exactly the moment and the feeling — the euphoria basically — of seeing from a distance a helicopter coming in, slinging a large tree,” said Napartuk.
“If you were there with me, you would’ve been seeing a grown man jumping up and down like a little boy, being all excited.”
Councillor George Berthe, of the newly formed town council, suggested in 2012 the town have the biggest tree it could find flown into the remote town.
“It wasn’t so far-fetched,” said the mayor.
“Kuujjuaq is one of the few [Nunavik] communities that has trees readily available not too far to the south,” said Napartuk.
A couple of men from the town went on a scouting trip to find the perfect tree.
“They found it right away. And a couple of days later, we asked the helicopter to go pick it up.The only way to access it was to pick it up by helicopter. We don’t have a big enough sled to pull by skidoo. “
“Of course, we don’t have access to it by road, by truck, so the only option was to get it by helicopter,” said Napartuk.
The annual Christmas tree drop is becoming a tradition. After the tree is secured in its resting spot next to the town hall, city staff decorate the tree utilizing equipment, then an angel is placed on top of the tree.
An individual who’s made a contribution to the community is selected by town council, and the honoree has the prestige of lighting the tree.— and people are “just mesmerized by it,” says Napartuk.
There have been some wolverine sightings this polar bear season in Churchill. These have been few and far between over the years and here is a short video from BBC’s Planet Earth productions that gives a little insight into the animal’s behavior we seem to know very little about. Enjoy!
Colder than usual temperatures have seemed to accelerate this polar bear season somewhat so that the annual chatter about an early freeze-up of the Hudson Bay is happening again. This ominous discourse always brings dread to the community and travel companies since an early freeze is followed by polar bears heading to the ice in search of seal protein and fat reserves from these meals.
In the meantime we have a plethora of incredible polar bear and other Arctic wildlife being captured by photographers in Churchill. This video from Explore.org is pretty special and there will be more to come. Enjoy!
Kal Barteski’s amazing journey in Manitoba culminates in Churchill where she falls in love with the Hudson Bay outpost amidst regal polar bears and the dancing northern lights. Of course curious beluga whales are one of the major draws of the region as well. Enjoy!
Polar bear season has begun on the tundra and Explore.org has a live feed from the Churchill Wildlife Management Area near Churchill. The early snow cover will make for active and photogenic bears out on the tundra. Polar bears are amassing all along the Hudson Bay coast and to the east in Wapusk National Park setting up what looks to be an action-packed polar bear season around the Churchill region!