- Lyndell Daniel
Churchill, Manitoba - Coastal Tour
When I tell people we spent time in Churchill and plan to go back next year in winter, most have no idea where it is located. Churchill is a small town in northern Manitoba, Canada on the west shore of Hudson Bay, roughly 110 kilometres (68 miles) from the Manitoba–Nunavut border. It is most famous for the many polar bears that move toward the shore from inland in the autumn, leading to the nickname "Polar Bear Capital of the World".
Located on the edge of the Arctic, Churchill offers the feel of a frontier town.
When you are in Churchill, you will see the diverse landscapes surrounding Churchill, from the boreal forest at its northern edge to the expansive Arctic tundra. It’s an evocative terrain that will compel you to admire the strength of the many plant species that inhabit this uncompromising environment.
You certainly don't encounter too many people on Hudson Bay Beach, but I'm told you can come across a few stray polar bears. We spent some time watching the Belugas swim past and also freezing our butts off at midnight watching the Northern Lights.
Patrolling for polar bears around the Prince of Wales Fort.
A half day coastal tour around Churchill with some spectacular bird sightings and the beluga whales (photos below).
The beluga whale, or white whale, is an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean. Belugas have long been a source of fascination for many, due to their unique white colouring and lack of a dorsal fin. Beluga whales are among the smallest species of whales. Adult males range from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6.1 meters) in length and weigh 2,000 to 3,000 lbs. (907 to 1,361 kilograms), according to National Geographic.
Beluga whales have white skin that is adapted to its habitat in the Arctic. Our guide also informed us that the beluga is able to swim backwards.
The word beluga comes from the Russian word "bielo" meaning white. However, these white whales are born dark gray. It can take up to eight years before they turn completely white.
We spent many hours kayaking and being surrounded by the beluga whales . These white whales are very social and would swim past and under our kayaks. If you are lucky you will even have one come up to you and allow you to touch it and perhaps nibble on your fingers.
The setting of the sun was spectacular and we made sure we didn't miss one during our stay.
Like all northern communities in Canada, Churchill can sometimes see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) when there is a high amount of solar activity. Taken overlooking Hudson Bay.