In the area around Churchill, Manitobe, a lot of interesting things. This area is often called the capital of polar bears. They have been living here since the founding of the city in 1771. From October to early December, up to 1,200 polar bears gather at the place where the Churchill River flows into the Hudson Bay, waiting for the bay to freeze to resume hunting for seals. At this time, many tourists come here to see these magnificent animals. The population of the city is increasing by more than 10 times. There were times when some of the most curious animals came into the city!
Note that more than 300 days a year you can observe the northern lights. The easiest way to get to Churchill is by plane, but if you want to see from the land the plains and Lake Manitoba that the fur traders once crossed, take a 36-hour “tour” on the VIA train coming from Winnipeg.
Even in the midst of summer, it’s worth grabbing warm clothes, as Churchill evenings are often cool. In 1717, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading mission here, and in its warehouse – located on the main street – you can still rent equipment for camping and walking excursions. In Inuit craft shops, you will find not souvenir crafts, but real handicrafts, leather and fur products that do not violate the local law on the protection of rare species. The Eskimo Museum (Eskimo Museum; open: June – October Mon 13.00–17.00, Tue – Sat 9.00–12.00 and 13.00–17.00; November – May Mon – Sat 13.00–16.30) gives a good idea of the life and art of local Inuit.
Sightseeing tours around the bay and to inland areas that are not otherwise accessible are organized on tundra buggies with giant wheels or half-track traction (half-day and full-day excursions). To get acquainted with the bay, several cruises are organized along the shore of the bay, giving the opportunity to see belugas in July and August, and in the fall polar bears; one route includes a tour of Fort Prince of Wales at the mouth of the Churchill River. In 1782, the massive stone fortresses of the Hudson’s Bay Company surrendered to the detachment of the French navigator Laperouse, without firing a shot.
If you prefer to relax on your own, rent a car and drive to Cape Merry, which offers a good view of the fort, especially at sunset. Take binoculars to look at belugas that swim in the river with the tide and then swim back.
The polar bear is the largest of the land predatory mammals. The average adult male weighs from 350 to more than 680 kg, reaching a maximum size by ten years. The average female weighs about half as much as the male, on average about 200-300 kg, reaching its maximum size by five years. Females give birth to calves about two months after they lie in dens. Newborn cubs – only 30-35 cm long and weighing just over 0.5 kg.
Polar bears found in the Arctic tundra live mainly near the sea, preferring to stay on ice while hunting seals, which make up their main diet. In the Arctic, bears hunt all year round, but where ice melts in summer, for example, on the southwestern shore of the Hudson’s Bay, they are forced to stay on the shore until autumn cold sets in and the bay freezes. If you are unable to travel at this time or if you do not want to look at polar bears outside their traditional habitat, you can always book a tour to the tundra, where you can watch polar bears from a car or even take pictures of them.
The Canadian city of Churchill is located on the shores of the Hudson’s Bay, in the province of Manitoba. Tourists are attracted to the city by the opportunity to see a polar bear – these majestic animals, migrating to the north, come annually to the vicinity of the city in October – November. Tourism is the main article of Churchill’s economy – in order to promote its development, the city was given the name of the world capital of polar bears.
Since time immemorial, the nomadic peoples of the Arctic have lived and hunted in this region. The first permanent European settlement arose here in 1717. The fort and trading post, as well as the river at the mouth of which they were located, received the name of John Churchill – the first Duke of Marlbor and the ancestor of Winston Churchill. Initially, the main occupation of the townspeople was the extraction and trade of furs, as well as logging.
Since 1980, ecotourism has been actively developing in the region. Each year, the city is visited by more than ten thousand adherents of this type of recreation. For safe observation of polar bears, tourists are provided with special modified buses. In summer, the main attraction of the area is the thousands of whale whales, who sail into the warmer waters of the mouth of the Churchill River. Also, from May to August, in the vicinity of the city, you can observe the migration of many species of birds.