Churchill photographer Katie de Meulles was able to capture these haunting yet beautiful images of the iconic Ithaca shipwreck. The ship lays grounded on the rocky sea – bed 12 miles east of town in Bird Cove. When the ship grounded it was being operated by the Clarke Steamship Company to deliver nickel from Rankin Inlet. She was sailing on return north filled with supplies for the settlement when the ships rudder fractured in 80 mph winds. When the anchors failed she ran aground on September 14th, 1960 and never moved again. All 37 crew and passengers aboard were rescued. Because the Hudson Bay is shallow along coastal areas the waves are less likely to break old wrecks apart during storms.
These intriguing shots are unique with the northern lights glimmering above the rusting hulk.The beauty blends with the symbol of tragedy to stir mixed emotions in the viewer!
MV Ithaca in Churchill. Katie de Meulles photo.
Northern lights above the MV Ithaca. Katie de Meulles photo.
Erie view of the MV Ithaca in Churchill. Katie de Meulles photo.
Darkened mass of the MV Ithaca in Churchill. Katie de Meulles photo.
MV Ithaca with glowing aurora borealis in the sky above. Katie de Meulles photo.
MV Ithaca with a strand of northern lights behind. Katie de Meulles photo.
MV Ithaca under the aurora borealis in Churchill. Katie de Meulles photo.
If you have been to Churchill you have more than likely seen the infamous Ithaca shipwreck just off the coast heading toward the airport or polar rover launch-site. The ship rests on the sea-bed 12 miles east of Churchill in Bird Cove.
Built in Three – Rivers, Quebec the Ithaca is eighty meters in length. Operated by the Clarke Steamship Company to deliver nickel concentrate from the works at Rankin Inlet, she sailed from Churchill on 10 September 1960 to collect her cargo, carrying supplies for the settlement. The ship’s rudder fractured in an 80 mph gale force wind and when anchors failed to hold she ran aground on September 14, 1960. The vessel came to rest on the rocky shoals, where it sits today, and all 37 men aboard were rescued.
MV Ithaca (September 2012) Source: Heidi den Haan
Low tide often allows locals and travelers to walk out to the wreck and gain a close-up vantage point of the rusty behemoth. You will need to keep an eye on the tide chart however as you might end booked in a “rustic” cabin heading nowhere fast. It has happened.
There’s a bit more history of the Ithaca but this is the main crux of the wreck. It stands in the Hudson Bay as a monument to all those seamen that have traveled the waters of the north.
Churchill is a funky frontier town with some unusual characters and a town center right out of the movies. The town is self-contained with just about every activity you want located in the town complex. Northern restaurants and bars line the main drag which is Kelsey Boulevard. Polar bears even saunter into town so if one is patient one doesn’t have to head out to the Churchill Wildlife management Area in a polar rover to see them.
Here are five attractions outside of Churchill proper that are worth checking out if you happen to visit the northern village.
1. Ithaca Shipwreck: Just off the coast near Bird Cove in Churchill, this old freighter is a classic landmark of the region.
2. Cape Merry: This iconic overlook on the precambrian sheild above the Churchill River and Hudson Bay is a classic starting point for any Adventure group arriving in Churchill. One can become geographically centered here and get a feel for the immensity of the Hudson Bay.
Natural Habitat group at the Cape Merry battery. Karen Walker photo.
3. Port of Churchill: A major economic stalwart of the town, this massive grain storage and port facility facilitates the cargo train as well as enormous cargo ships transporting grain products across the oceans via waterways accessible to the the Hudson Bay.
Grain port of Churchill.Steve Selden photo.
4. Observation tower at Goose Creek: In the summer this spot is a great place to observe various marsh birds and ducks. You also can get a distant view of an annual osprey nest as well as a clear vista about eight kilometers up the Churchill River. A quiet respite with amazing sky and landscape views.
Observation tower at Goose Creek marina.
5. Anglican Church: If you like the intimate atmosphere of a quaint church service, this is the place. If you also want to see a national treasure you can do that as well. The Lady Franklin stained glass window is displayed to the right of the alter. This grand piece of art was given by Sir John Franklin’s wife, Jane, in appreciation of all the search efforts put forth to find her husband and their lost Arctic expedition of 1845.
Anglican church in Churchill rests on the edge of the Hudson Bay.
Close – up of the Lady Franklin stained glass window Photo Karen Walker