Polar bears get all the press in Churchill, Manitoba. They are why most travelers head north to the Hudson Bay shoreline… hoping to see the “king of the Arctic”. Another animal is quite prevalent in the area and they inhabit the town year-round.
Sled dogs of different breeds are scattered all across the tundra on the outskirts of town. Mushers locate them in groups of 10-50 in designated areas on crown land leased for that purpose. With the increasing popularity of dog-sledding from a tourism standpoint as well as the increase in passion for professional endurance races such as the Hudson Bay Quest, the iconic “husky” sled dog has become an animal attraction for those wanting to get the full flavor of the Arctic.
Enjoy these fantastic photographs from Churchill…the new “sled dog” capitol of the north!
Hudson Bay Quest race start 2014 in Churchill, MB. Brad Josephs photo.
Canadian Eskimo sled dog outside Arctic Trading Company in Churchill. Karen Walker photo.
Sled dog team waiting for the signal in Churchill.
Sled dog taking a quick rest between runs in Churchill.
Churchill musher Charlie Lundie and his dog team. Steve Selden photo.
Churchill sled dogs going for the gold. Brad Josephs photo.
Come to Churchill for a sled dog excursion with Natural Habitat Adventures! visit nathab.com for more information on these incredible experiences.
Dog sledding in the north is part of the fabric of the culture. Enjoy this documentary of the Inuit lifestyle. Following another successful Hudson Bay Quest on the heels of the Iditarod in Alaska, this documentary gives good insight into the extent dogs play in northern peoples culture. Everywhere you go in Churchill dog yards or remnants of old ones exist. Over the past decade dog sledding interest in Churchill has peaked. With the way the mushing scene is gaining traction all over the world it can only continue to grow even more.
Qimmit: A Clash of Two Truths by Ole Gjerstad & by Joelie Sanguya, National Film Board of Canada
All the racers are in from Gillam and what a brutally cold race it was. With weather reported in the -30’s with a wind chill of -45 or higher, the Hudson Bay Quest was a tough one this year. Only four mushers scratched with 10 completing the course. One registered dropped prior to the race.
A dog patiently waits to run. Cheryl Sommerfeld photo.
The unofficial results are as follows:
1. #1 Peter McClelland 1:19:47
2. #14 Shawn McCarty 03:29:21
3. #15 Troy Groeneveld 03:29:21
4. #2 David Daley 06:11:30
5. #11 Matt Groth 06:35:44
6. #8 Jesse Terry 09:36:xx
7. #9 Hank DeBruin 09:40:xx
8. #13 Ed Obrecht 14:02:08
9. #12 Jim Oehschlaeger 14:57:25
10. #4 Charlie Lundie 18:17:21
#10 Dan Dimuzio finished but time not yet available.
#3 Julie Robitaille
#5 Stefaan DeMarie
#6 Alvin Hardman
#7 Ryan Anderson
Congrats to Peter McClelland for winning the race with a standout time. Dave Daley from Churchill and race organizer took local top honors with a fourth -place finish. The racers fought through incredible cold temps which ironically are the trademark of this sub-arctic classic challenge.
Here’s a little cool story about the winner relayed by the HBQ Facebook page updated by Dave Daley:
Peter McClelland was telling a group of us how he got such a lead on Troy. Turns out they were egging each other on, and at a rest in Lamprey they found a couple of comfy chairs, put their feet up for a few minutes and threatened each other to give chase if the other took off.
The chairs must have been really soft and nice, because Troy closed his eyes for just a moment and rested his weary head, while Peter pretended to rest his weary bearded head. Next thing Peter realizes, Troy lets out a soft snore!
Peter, being the gentle soul that he is makes a decision that Troy needs his rest, so he signals a finger to his lips and whispers “shhhh” to the Rangers, and tip toes outside so he doesn’t disturb his dear fellow competitor.Once outside, he finds his dogs, hooks up, and goes to Churchill to let everyone know that Troy will be coming along soon.
Dogs awaiting the next leg. Cheryl Sommerfeld photo.
It’s all about the dogs. Cheryl Sommerfeld photo.
Congratulations to all the mushers and their dogs for a well run race. I’ll post the official results when they become available.
Churchill is buzzing these days with all kinds of excitement! Aurora trips are in full swing with this being one of the best years to view the “northern lights” due to incredible solar flaring. Also, Churchill’s annual Aurora festival begins in March and overlaps with the start of the Hudson Bay Quest which begins in Gillam, MB on March 15th and finishes in Churchill this year. And..oh yeah..polar bears are always in the news with the ongoing debates on how they should be listed on the endangered species list. Lots to think about in the heart of winter up north.
A polar bear keeps a watchful eye from the shelter of willows.
Polar bears were listed as endangered in 2008. in 2010 the United States petitioned the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) to upgrade the listing from appendix II to appendix I..which would prevent any international trade in polar bear parts. That year the motion was declined and now this March 3-14th the USA is once again trying to push the change through. Of course there are many sides to the issue but passage of the motion would surely have ramifications all over the planet. This article goes more deeply into the reasons many different proponents and opponents have interest in the upcoming symposium.
Avid sled dogs in Churchill,MB. Brad Josephs photo.
The Hudson Bay Quest is ramping up to full speed in preparation for the March 15th start date. An amazing field of mushers has already registered. Here’s the updated list below:
1. David Daley, from Churchill, Manitoba
2. Julie Robitaille, from Otter Lake, Quebec
3. Ryan Anderson, from Ray, Minnesota
4. Charlie Lundie, from Churchill, Manitoba
5. Stefan deMarie, from Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan
6. Alvin Hardman, from Ludington, Michigan
7. Dan DiMuzio, from Churchill, Manitoba
8. Jim Oehlschlaeger, from Newberry, Michigan
9. Ed the Sled Obrecht, from Otter Lake, Quebec
10. Blake Freking, from Finland, Minnesota
11. Troy Groeneveld, from Two Harbours, Minnesota
12. Jesse Terry, from Sioux Lookout, Ontario
13. Peter McClelland, Ely, Minnesota
14. Shawn McCarty, Ely, Minnesota
15. Matt Groth, from Two Harbours, Minnesota
16. Laura Daugereau, from Kingston, Washington
17. Hank DeBruin, from Haliburton, Ontario
This is shaping up as the most competitive field to date. Returning 2012 champion Shawn McCarty and 2011 hometown champion Charlie Lundie are both in the field with hopes to win again. Come on up to Churchill for St. Patty’s day and catch the racers as they mush into town on the16th and 17th.
Recently I posted some photo’s of one of Natural Habitat’s aurora groups building an igloo. Take a look at the finished product..fun was had by all. What an experience in cold temperatures!
The real thing in the Arctic. Photo Rhonda Reid.
Warm inside…frigid outside. Photo Rhonda Reid.