Who Found Button Bay-Was It Lost?

If you have been to Churchill you probably have heard of Button Bay. If you have been to Churchill in the Summer you might have even ventured by boat to the bay itself.

Sow and cub in the rocks off Eskimo Point in Churchill, Manitoba. Stefanie Fernandez photo.

Sow and cub in the rocks off Eskimo Point. Stefanie Fernandez photo.

Button Bay lies northwest of Churchill just a short spin by zodiac around the tip of Eskimo Point and Fort Prince of Wales. From the fort you can gaze across the thickets of willows and wildflowers to the often glassy surface of the secluded inlet. It’s also possible to look across the Churchill River past Fort Prince of Wales on the point and see the glimmering surface of the bay.

Beluga whale under water,

In Button Bay the water is crystal clear and belugas are quite visible under water. Steve Selden photo.

The bay was commemorated by Sir Thomas Button in 1612 when he and the crew of the Resolution ventured to “New Wales”, as he named it for England. He is credited with securing the lands along the west coast of the Hudson Bay for England. The Nelson River estuary and Port Nelson within those lands, were named after the Master of the Resolution who perished on the journey and is buried there.


Sir Thomas Button.

On May 15, 1912, 300 years later, when Manitoba’s boundaries were extended, Port Nelson was included in the new territory designated to the province. Thomas Button is therefore known to be the first white man to visit this area in Manitoba.

Polar bear in Button Bay in Churchill, Manitoba.

Polar Bear along the coast of Button Bay. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.

Button Bay is a well known beluga whale hot spot in the summer. On the fairly rare occasions when whales are scarce in the Churchill River and mouth of the Hudson Bay, the 20 minute motor over to Button Bay usually produces pods of whales following the capelin run. On the journey by boat or zodiac, there’s always the chance of spotting a polar bear or two nestled along the rocky coast. I have often seen bears dipping paws into the bay or pulling up onto the rocks after a swim.

Button Bay is a little secret gem of the region. the bay itself is considered part of the Nunavut territory.

Come see the whales and bears of Button Bay!  Arctic summer trips are still available.

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