Churchill Gets “Arctic – Turf” for Canada Day

Churchill, Manitoba town square

New synthetic turf in the Churchill town square. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.

Churchill is moving into the 21st Century with a new synthetic turf field for the town square behind the chamber of commerce information kiosk. Looking more like an artist’s depiction than the real thing, this image from Alex De Vries – Magnifico in Churchill shows the newly “mowed” field. The old field and town “green” was far from that with hard dirt and scattered rocks throughout. This will hopefully encourage the youth and adult population to participate in sports such as baseball and soccer throughout the summer months. The field will be finished just in time for Canada Day on July 1st and the annual ball tournament and other festivities!

I can’t help thinking of a funny Canada Day story that occurred when I was guiding Churchill Arctic Summer trips years ago. When I first started I would stay in Churchill and await the arrival of the group on the VIA Rail train with my Natural Habitat Adventures co-guide. Once they arrived we would guide travelers across the tundra in search of flowers and wildlife and over the waters of the Hudson Bay and Churchill River to see the beluga whales. The amazing biosphere of Churchill would be home for the next five days. At the end of the trip my co-guide would return to Winnipeg with the group by air and return a few days later by train. Not a bad gig!

Via rail in Churchill

Churchill’s Via rail station with a train at the dock. Cartan Tours photo.

Train arrivals in those days, much like train arrivals these days, were often three – four hours late. Due to the warm weather and shifting permafrost in the summer months, trains would be issued “slow” orders that would only permit them to travel at recommended slow speed so to not place undo stress on the steel rails. Unfortunately, overloaded grain cargo trains heading to the Port of Churchill often disregarded the slow orders and periodically derailed in front of the passenger trains. These accidents caused huge delays and sometimes the necessity to reroute travelers on flights to Churchill or bus to get to a bigger town to wait out the track repairs. Not much has changed there either. All part of the adventure.

Churchill was putting on its usual festivities and I was taking part in the annual town softball tournament. Teams from the Churchill Northern Studies Center, the hospital, restaurants, Parcs Canada and just friends putting a team together were all enjoying the friendly competition on the diamond. Throughout the morning of the tournament, the train’s late – arrival had been updated numerous times and last I heard estimated to arrive in Churchill at roughly 3:00 pm. I came to learn that “roughly” in Churchill is all part of a vernacular we often refer to as “tundra time”.

Our game was going on around 1:30 pm and I was in my softball attire of sweats and a t-shirt, up at bat with the softball at the apex of its arc when I heard the train’s horn blowing loudly across the square. After raking a base – hit to right field (actually the aforementioned dirt and rocks) I glanced over to see the train limping into the station and I ran. Not towards first base but instead toward the Seaport Hotel to my room to change into proper Nat Hab guide attire and then cruise over to the station and meet the arriving group! I received lots of ribbing from the team for that panicky though funny exit…still makes me laugh to this day. Never trust the train schedule or rumors to its arrival in Churchill. Tundra time indeed!


Canada day itinerary Churchill

Canada Day is on July 1st. Here’s an itinerary of the events planned. Town of Churchill image.

Ross’s Gull sighted in Churchill After five Years

The most elusive Arctic bird for bird watchers in Churchill has returned to the region. Well, at least that’s what Parc’s Canada is claiming on their website and twitter accounts. Of course the bird really hasn’t resurfaced until you see it if you’re the one in quest of the life – lister. There have been some reports of sightings and word is getting around that in fact the “Ross” is here and waiting to be checked off your life list. Come try and see this elusive gull this treasure packed Churchill Arctic summer!

Ross' gull

Ross’ gull along the rocky Churchill shore. Brian Small photo.

Ross's gull

Ross’s gull in flight. Bruce Mactavish photo.

Polar Bear Love Video- Happy Holidays

This amazing polar bear video filmed around Wapusk National Park in Manitoba near Churchill is just right to get everyone in the holiday mood. Watching these playful polar bear cubs interact with their mother and with each other really inspires the feeling of the coming season. With all the stress that accompanies the hustle and bustle of this time of year, watching this footage from Parcs Canada will surely put you in a relaxed mood. Enjoy!


Churchill Photos of the Week-Summer

Some fresh summer shots from Churchill local photographer and Parc’s Canada ranger Rhonda Reid. Churchill is full of many surprises as summer starts to blend into fall during August. A Natural Habitat Adventures group was incredibly fortunate to see polar bears, beluga whales and northern lights last week which is always an incredible feat!

Northern grass of parnassus.

Northern grass of parnassus with pollinating insects in petals. Rhonda Reid photo.

Precambrian shield in Churchill.

Precambrian shield sloping down towards the Hudson Bay. Rhonda Reid photo.

Polar bear mom and cub Churchill River.

Polar bear mom and cub nearing the dock at Cape Merry. Rhonda Reid photo.

Manitoba Conservation officer monitoring polar bears.

Manitoba Conservation officer monitoring bears emerging from water. Rhonda Reid photo.

Polar bears near Cape merry Churchill.

Polar bear sow and cub on the far point rocks near Cape Merry. Rhonda Reid photo.

Common Crane Makes Rare Appearance in Churchill

This photograph by Parcs Canada is an amazing discovery of a common crane. The bird is rarely seen in North America and Churchill has been lucky enough to be the landing spot for this particular crane. Mixed in with a group of sandhill cranes, this common crane seems to be on the lam from somewhere. The cranes were spotted at the grain ponds by the Port of Churchill. Birdwatchers are keeping eyes open for other rare bird species in Churchill!

common crane in Churchill

Common crane spotted in Churchill mixed in with sandhill cranes. Parcs Canada photo.

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