An overview of Churchill, Manitoba, photo by Peterfitzgerald.
A ‘polar bear jail’ is visible bottom right under the curved galvanized roof. This is where bears that have wandered into town are kept until they can be transported to an area that offers food other than humans.
On the frozen shores of Hudson Bay small and unattractive Churchill is the best place on earth to see polar bears, whether out on the icy tundra in a Tundra buggy, or rooting around Churchill’s garbage cans lit only by the northern lights. Other creatures that make this desolate land their home are white foxes, arctic hares, lemmings, owls, falcons, whales, seals and eco-tourists.
Temperature in Churchill averages -27C (-16F) in January, and 12C (54F) in July, summertime.
Winter in Churchill lasts from October to June and the short summer sees a flurry of wildlife activity as hundreds of species of birds, beluga whales and fur seals stop by en route for their breeding grounds.
Needless to say wildlife watching is the main attraction in bizarre and isolated Churchill, with the northern lights as technicolor wallpaper, nature’s way of saying ‘it’s not really so dull out here! ‘
The best time to see polar bears is October to early November as they chill out while waiting for the Hudson Bay to freeze over so they can get to ringed seals, their staple diet.
Bears that spend too much time scavenging for food in Churchill are put in bear jail until the bay freezes. Staying at a simple but friendly and informative tundra lodge is a good option as you’ll be surrounded by bears without a daily drive but costing about $6, 000 pw per person! Yow!
The best time to see beluga whales is the July-August calving season in the Churchill River estuary.
The best time to see birdlife is June-August, with 270 species recorded in the area.
Northern lights (aurora borealis) are frequently seen here December-April and in late August.