Canada day was just a few weeks ago and part of the festivities is the annual Hudson Bay dip took place in Churchill. The dip is an outpouring of community fun and bravery to enter the 40 degree F water. The year I took part there was still ice floating near shore and the water was exceptionally cold. Extremities become numb almost immediately but the thrill is worth the pain! Enjoy the fun from this 2013 footage!
These photos from Churchillian Katie de Meulles are from the annual Canada Day polar bear plunge into the Hudson Bay. With a water temperature around 40 F, the plunge will numb you pretty fast. I’ve experienced the event firsthand and my legs went numb halfway out to the flags….still a great day of Churchill fun!
Churchill’s summer is just around the corner….well, not really but it’s nice to think about on these frigid days and nights. With the temperatures averaging around -30 C for the next 10 days according to Environment Canada, thoughts of an Arctic summer in Churchill are almost like daydreaming of the Caribbean. Almost. Here are five good reasons to dream of summer in Churchill:
Beluga looking curiously up from the Churchill River. Steve Selden photo.
1.- Beluga Whales- Whether arriving by plane, train or ship, most summer travelers to Churchill come for the beluga whales. A few days out on the water, in and out of whale pods, can release any kind of stress from daily life. Add in the coarse summer fog and cool breezes blowing in across the Hudson Bay, and you have a unique wonderland evoking a feeling of transcendence from the modern technologically saturated world.
2.- Polar Bear Dip- Not talking about something you might find at Gypsy’s Deli in town…although it might be more enjoyable do jump into a vat of your favorite chip-dip then immersing yourself in the Hudson Bay in July. Canada Day falls on July 1st and the weekend closest to the date is filled with fun activities around the town of Churchill. One of the looniest, angst-packed endeavors is the annual Polar Bear Dip behind the town complex in the Hudson Bay. “Fun” might be an odd description for jumping and running into water around 40F or lower. Most legs turn to wood before ten seconds elapse and then the real fun begins. Watching people struggle to get back on shore after running out to a flag-line and back is great entertainment. This is a must try event if you happen to travel to Churchill in summertime.
3.- Ghost Town- Summer in Churchill gives you a chance to really feel the frontier lifestyle with considerably less fellow travelers. The majority of people see Churchill in October and November, which in its own right is amazing….though different. However, the weather during this time limits one’s ability to grasp the full feeling of living on the edge of the Earth. Getting out on the land and water to experience the full circle of life fills in gaps left from seeing mainly polar bears.
Churchill wildflowers on the tundra. Steve Selden Photo.
4.- Wildflowers- The diversity of flora in Churchill is the main reason I loved guiding the Arctic Summer groups. Hiking along tundra trails flooded with wildflowers, berry plants and orchids was a never ending adventure and classroom of biodiversity. Getting down and viewing the plants up close unveils a magical world that exists only a few short months. Each plant has a unique story of survival and propensity to propagate in opportunistic ways.
Dene elder Caroline Bjorklund giving a cultural talk. Steve Selden photo.
5.- Meeting Churchillians- When less travelers are in Churchill, businesses and the people in town have more time on their hands. This is the “normal” lifestyle locals are accustomed to and are more apt to take time to share stories about their lives in the north. After all, this is what “tundra time” is all about!