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  • Lyndell Daniel

Churchill, Manitoba

After an unforgettable time living alongside the brown bears, hiking through some amazing scenery and encountering so many animals in Alaska, we were now making our way to Winnipeg.

On leaving Aialik Bay, we boarded the sea taxi for the four hour return journey to Seward and then took the amazingly scenic Alaskan Rail back to Anchorage, arriving around 11pm. I had arranged for a leisurely sleep in at a very nice hotel near the Airport, but on arriving in Anchorage found our flight had been changed to 5am. After a hot shower at the hotel, we were heading to the airport to board our flight to Minneapolis and then on to Winnipeg.

We arrived at Anchorage airport around 3.30am, to be told by the lovely lady at the check-in counter that there was a problem with us entering Canada. She advised she couldn't complete our check in as the screen was displaying a large cross beside our names. After quite some time trying to work out why we couldn't enter Canada, my brain registered that I had forgotten to apply for a Canadian ETA. After a frantic online application, waiting to be checked in again (this time successfully), we were running very quickly through the airport trying to make our flight.

The excitement didn't stop there, as upon touching down at Winnipeg airport, we were kept on the tarmac for about two hours, as there had been a fire in the terminal and everyone had been evacuated.

We stayed overnight in Winnipeg and spent the next day sightseeing, visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, The Forks, The Railway Museum, one of the local parks, took in a cricket match and did a bit of retail shopping.

The next morning we boarded Calm Air for our 2 1/2 hour flight to Churchill.

Welcome to Churchill, Canada.

One of our first stops was to Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy was a Curtiss C-46 Commando cargo aircraft, operated by Lamb Air in Northern Manitoba. The C46 flew in 1945 and was nicknamed Miss Piggy because of the size of the loads she carried from site to site in the north. On November 13, 1979, Miss Piggy left the Churchill airport. Shortly into the flight her No.1 engine oil temperature rose, and a drop in oil pressure forced the crew to descend and turn back to Churchill.

The aircraft couldn’t hold the altitude and a forced landing was made in rough terrain 1/4mile short of the runway. Reportedly, the aircraft was overloaded…a stuffed Piggy.

There were three crewmen injured in the crash but all survived. To this day, Miss Piggy rests on a cliff edge north of the airport and is an official tourist attraction for Churchill.

The Prince of Wales Fort in Churchill, Manitoba is an historic defense structure that was built in the 18th Century and continues to attract visitors more than 200 years later. Getting there is easy and involves a short zodiac ride across the bay, whilst being surrounded by so many Beluga Whales.

You are transported back in time and experience the live battle.

This fort began as a log fort built in 1717 by James Knight of the Hudson's Bay Company and was originally called the "Churchill River Post". In 1719, the post was renamed Prince of Wales Fort, but is more commonly known today as Fort Prince of Wales. It was located on the west bank of the Churchill river to protect and control the Hudson's Bay Company's interests in the fur trade.

If you take a visit to Churchill you will see 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.

Apparently the ship was bringing a shipment of good to Churchill and ran aground in a storm. It is said all of the crew walked to shore after the wreck.

At the end of the day, pull up a chair and watch the belugas swim past at Hudson Bay.

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