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Travel Guide North America Canada Manitoba Churchill

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Introduction

Churchill is a town in northern Manitoba, Canada on the west shore of Hudson Bay, roughly 110 kilometres 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" that has helped its growing tourism industry. Churchill is located along the Hudson Bay at the 58th parallel north far above where most Canadian populated areas are located. Churchill is located far from any other towns or cities, with Thompson, approximately 400 kilometres to the south, being the closest larger settlement. Manitoba's provincial capital, Winnipeg, is approximately 1,000 kilometres south of Churchill.

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Sights and Activities

Aurora Borealis

Like all northern communities in Canada, Churchill can sometimes see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) when there is a high amount of solar activity. Visibility also depends on the sky being dark enough to see them, which usually precludes their visibility in the summer due to twilight all night long.

Polar bears

Starting in the 1980s, the town developed a sizable tourism industry focused on the migration habits of the polar bear. Tourists can safely view polar bears from specially modified buses known as tundra buggies. Use of the buggies helps sustain local tourism, but can also cause damage to the local ecosystem when driven outside the established trails. October and early November are the most feasible times to see polar bears, thousands of which wait on the vast peninsula until the water freezes on Hudson Bay so that they can return to hunt their primary food source, ringed seals. There are also opportunities to see polar bears in the non-winter months, with tours via boat visiting the coastal areas where polar bears can be found both on land and swimming in the sea.

Beluga whales

Thousands of beluga whales, which move into the warmer waters of the Churchill River estuary during July and August to calf, are a major summer attraction. Polar bears are present as well, but can only be seen via helicopter tours at this time of year.

Cape Merry

An old cannon battery was set up in 1747 to protect the Hudson Bay Company's business on the Churchill River, rather stupidly, as the cannons there could be captured by an enemy and used to fire upon Prince of Wales Fort across the river. Nonetheless, it is a great scenic spot to look out on the bay and river and fort, with a genuine tundra ecosystem. The battery has been reconstructed with original stones found on location, with a single cannon left as a reminder of the site's history. Keep an eye out in bear season, as polar bears frequent the area when heading out onto the sea ice. It's not safe to walk from town, because of the bears, so take a taxi, get someone to give you a ride, or rent a car.

Eskimo Museum

One of Canada's oldest collections of Inuit artefacts (opened in 1944 by Catholic missionaries and still operated by the Diocese of Churchill-Baie d'Hudson), this museum has well detailed exhibits of all sorts of weird and interesting Inuit archaeological finds and sculptures. You will want well over an hour for the exhibits, and then some for the gift shop. Suggested donation $2.

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Weather

Churchil has a short but fairly warm summer, averaging around 18 °C, although it can be over 30 °C sometimes, and frost as night is even possible in high summer. Winters are long and cold, between -20 °C and -35 °C between December and February. Temperatures close to -50 °C have been record and above zero just rarely happens. Winters are dry with some snowfall when it is not too cold. Most of the precipitation falls in summer but still not very mucht, around 50 mm a month.

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Getting There

By Plane

Churchill is serviced by two scheduled airlines offering flights to and from Winnipeg and to points north of Churchill in Nunavut. Calm Air offers service from Churchill Airport with daily flights to Winnipeg and the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut.

By Train

The Hudson Bay train is operated by ViaRail and travels north from Winnipeg to Churchill, making for a much more adventurous way to go this way compared to flying.

By Car

There are no roads from Churchill leading to the rest of Canada.

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Getting Around

It's quite easy to walk within the city limits on one's own. It's also possible to rent a car in Churchill, and there are several taxi drivers who tend to hang out around the airport and train station.

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Eat

Most hotels will have something to eat, but the main restaurants in town are the three below. Expect high prices, but perhaps surprisingly, the food here is delicious.

  • Gypsy's Bakery, 253 Kelsey Blvd, ☎ +1 204-675-2322. 6:00am-9:00pm daily. Any local will affirm that 25-year-old Gypsy's is a must. More than a bakery (which makes heavenly apple fritters), Gypsy's makes great fried chicken, Mediterranean dinner specialties (it's owned by a Portuguese family), and traditional breakfast. Watch the prices, though, as some dishes can surprise you with an extremely high price tag! No alcohol. Boxed lunches available for picnics/buggy tours. $12-45.
  • The Reef, 299 Kelsey Blvd (Inside the Seaport Hotel), ☎ +1 204-675-8807. M-Sa 7:00am-10:00pm, Su 8:00am-10:00pm. The Seaport Hotel's restaurant has arguably the best traditional breakfast in town, and quite good lunch and dinner. It's pretty quiet, and does tend to attract more tourists than locals, but don't let that discourage you—this is a solid option with really nice servers and a full bar. $15-35.
  • Tundra Inn Pub, ☎ +1 204-675-8831. Jun-Sep: Tu-Sa 4:00pm-midnight; Oct-Nov 6:00am-midnight daily. Breakfast is available only in bear season, and it's a pretty simple buffet (i.e., the other two restaurants have better breakfast). But dinner here is excellent, with some local oddities rolled into a menu of hearty carb-hugs, much needed at the end of a cold day. As the Tundra Lounge is next door, they have good beer and cocktails. No lunch. $20-40.

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Drink

Not long on bars, Churchill really only has two, aside from the Legion: the Tundra Lounge and the Pier Beverage Room at the Seaport Hotel. The Tundra Lounge is a safe bet for a good outing any night of the week.

  • Liquor Mart, 203 Laverendrye Ave (Bayport Plaza), ☎ +1 204-675-2317. Jan-Jun: Tu-Sa 11:00am-6:00pm; Jul-Sep M-Sa 11:00am-6:00pm; Oct-Dec M-Sa 11:00am-6:00pm, Su noon-6:00pm. The liquor selection is actually pretty good here. The wine and beer a bit less so, but those are easy to get in the restaurants.
  • Royal Canadian Legion Branch #227, 23 Hudson Sq, ☎ +1 204-675-2272. Legion members only, but a good place to meet locals.
  • Tundra Inn Pub & Lounge, 23 Franklin St, ☎ +1 204-675-8831. Jun-Sep: Tu-Sa 4:00pm-midnight; Oct-Nov 6:00am-midnight daily. There's really only one show in town as far as bars go, and it's actually a really great spot. There is frequent live music (usually every Friday) that often gets people dancing, a pool table, and a good mix of tourists and locals. Of the beers available, the Manitoba craft brews from Fort Garry are quite good.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Tundra House Hostel51 Frankin StreetHOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet usage is wide-spread in Canada. Wi-fi is available in many locations in larger cities, sometimes free and sometimes at a cost. You will find Wi-Fi in coffee stores, some restaurants and also hotels and motels more and more offer this service for free, but with a code usually. Internet cafes are common along major streets, and and in larger cities, charge between $3 and $4 for an hour, usually in 20-minute increments.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Canada is: 1. To make an international call from Canada, the code is: 011. Emergency services can be reached by dialling 911. This number will give you free access to Police, Fire and Ambulance services and can be used from landlines, phone booths and cell phones.

The populous areas of Canada along the border with the USA have excellent cellular and wired telecommunications, meaning that travellers are never fair from an international phone call home, a WIFI connection or an internet cafe. Depending on the mobile phone provider, coverage could be either CDMA and GSM coverage. Travellers wishing to purchase SIM cards for GSM phones should look for Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility, which all offer nationwide availability.

Post

Postal service is provided by Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government but run as an independent business. Most post offices keep hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm though in bigger places longer hourse might be available.

To format the envelope of a letter sent within Canada, put the destination address on the centre of its envelope, with a stamp, postal indicia, meter label, or frank mark on the top-right corner of the envelope to acknowledge payment of postage. A return address, although it is not required, can be put on the top-left corner of the envelope in smaller type than the destination address.

The lettermail service allows the mailing of a letter. The basic rate is currently set at $0.63 for one standard letter (30 grams or less). The rates for lettermail are based or weight and size and determine whether the article falls into the aforementioned standard format, or in the oversize one. The rate is the same for a postcard. Mail sent internationally is known as letterpost. It can only contain paper documents. The rate for a standard letter is of $1.10 if sent to the United States, and $1.85 if sent to any other destination. Oversize or overweight letters may be charged a higher fee. Larger parcels can be shipped via Canada post both domestically and internationally, the rate is dependent on the weight and destination. [1]

Federal Express, TNT, UPS or DHL also provide interntional shipping from Canada and are usually very quick and reliable though might cost a little more compared to Canada Post.

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Accommodation in Churchill

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Churchill searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Churchill and areas nearby.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 7:57 on Feb 29, 16 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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