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Churchill

Located on the edge of the Arctic, Churchill offers the feel of a frontier town with the amenities of an international tourist destination. A unique and accessible Arctic community, the town comes alive each time the train or plane arrives

Polar bears are everywhere – on murals, signs, souvenirs, and sculptures – and the live version occasionally wanders in to town as well! Snowmobiles roar through town in winter and ATVs cruise by in summer.

The town of Churchill grew from a remote outpost to a bustling seaport with the construction of the Hudson Bay Railroad and Port of Churchill in the late 1920s. Through much of the 1950s and 1960s, the town was a thriving military community.

Set amid rugged wilderness, life in Churchill today for the 1,000 residents (and thousands of visitors) depends on the latest technology as well as traditional life skills. The community melds tradition and innovation in many ways – the multimillion-dollar Town Centre Complex, for example, features interior walkways lined with brightly coloured Inuit wall hangings and prints. This remote but accessible northern community stays connected with the world through cell phone coverage along with high speed and wireless Internet.

Churchill, population 1,000, is currently accessible only by air. Unfortunately the rail line, which was built over permafrost and muskeg in 1929 and required a crew of 3,000 to complete, was washed out in spring floods in 2017. Calm Air, Kivalliq Air run regular scheduled air service from Winnipeg, Thompson and Gillam year-round.

In summer, white beluga whales surface and plunge in the blue-green waters of the Churchill River. You'll be talking distance of the most vocal whales in the world. More than 3,000 beluga whales come in early July to feed and calve. Seals can also be seen in the harbour and caribou are frequently sighted along the coast.

Visitors are awestruck upon seeing the haunting beauty of our aurora borealis (northern lights). Blue, green and white in colour, they swirl and dance in the still northern sky with performances that can be seen on clear nights. According to legend, the northern lights will dance their way down to earth if you whistle at them. Why not give it a try?

Churchill is a birdwatchers' paradise-some 250 species of birds including the rare Ross Gull, nest or pass through on their yearly migrations. Bird Cove is an excellent spot for bird-watching. The wreck of the Ithaca, caught in a windstorm in 1960 while carrying nickel ore from Rankin Inlet to Montreal, is at the western tip of the cove. Akudlik Marsh and Harbour Board Ponds are also very good spots for birdwatchers.

On the tundra, lichens and miniature shrubs and flowers bloom each spring and fall. A short distance inland are patches of taiga (subarctic) forest, with black spruce, scattered white spruce and a thick mat of lichens. Twin Lakes is an island of boreal forest rising out of the surrounding subarctic tundra.

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