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Churchill is the beluga whale and polar bear capital of the world. Some 1,000 people live there year-round, but every fall, another few thousand come to see the polar bears waiting for the Hudson Bay ice to freeze. Situated on the coastline, Churchill is rich with a diversity of sub-Arctic species small and large, including caribou, wolf, Arctic fox, moose, seal, and Arctic hare. Birds including Bonaparte’s gulls, herring gulls, king eiders, jaegers, Pacific loons, Arctic terns and 250 other species arrive during May and June. In July and August, thousands of white beluga whales come to calve and play with snorkelers and kayakers in the rich ...

Churchill is the beluga whale and polar bear capital of the world. Some 1,000 people live there year-round, but every fall, another few thousand come to see the polar bears waiting for the Hudson Bay ice to freeze. Situated on the coastline, Churchill is rich with a diversity of sub-Arctic species small and large, including caribou, wolf, Arctic fox, moose, seal, and Arctic hare. Birds including Bonaparte’s gulls, herring gulls, king eiders, jaegers, Pacific loons, Arctic terns and 250 other species arrive during May and June. In July and August, thousands of white beluga whales come to calve and play with snorkelers and kayakers in the rich waters of the Churchill, Seal and other rivers emptying into the Bay. Summer is excellent for Arctic blossoms and viewing national historic sites either side of the Churchill River. During October and November hundreds of polar bears stroll, snooze, spar and otherwise entertain tourists from around the world. January to March brings cold nights but clear skies under the auroral oval, and the best opportunity to see northern lights. Churchill is accessible by air or train from Winnipeg or Thompson. The 1,000-mile railway line was built in 1929 by 3,000 men to provide a shorter grain shipping route to Britain from Churchill, Canada’s most northerly port. Visits to Prince of Wales Fort — built in the 18th century by the Hudson’s Bay Company to protect British fur trade interests — and the Parks Canada Visitor Reception Centre lend insight into the human and natural history of the area.

Catherine Senecal
About the Expert

Catherine Senecal is the author of Pelicans to Polar Bears, a wildlife viewing guide to Manitoba, and has written about Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and other places for Michelin Guides, Rand McNally, and Reader’s Digest Atlas.

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Catherine Senecal for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A town on the west shore of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, just south of the Nunavut/Manitoba boundary. It is most famous for the many polar bears that move toward the shore from inland in the autumn which has helped its growing tourism industry.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer for whales, blooms, hiking and history; fall for polar bears and shopping; winter for northern lights and Hudson Bay Quest; late spring for birding.