Polar Bear Photo Tour Churchill - Winnipeg to Churchill - Day Two

November 14, 2011

Polar Bear Photo Tour Churchill - Winnipeg to Churchill - Day Two

What a busy day ... we were up at 4:00 a.m. this morning for a 5:00 a.m. departure to the airport.  Our flight to Churchill was at 6:30 a.m.  A cold morning in Winnipeg with some snow overnight.  We boarded our twin engine prop aircraft and took off for our 2 hour and 30 minute flight.  It was dark when we took off but were treated to a beautiful sunrise as we flew north.

Once we arrived in Churchill we were met by our local guide Steve Clubb, who has been guiding in this region for 22 years.  His knowledge and experience of the region is going to be rewarding as we tour the region this week.  

Our first stop this morning as we left the airport was Polar Bear Holding Centre or also referred to as Polar Bear Jail.  Any polar bears that cause trouble or are trapped in one of the polar bear traps to close to Churchill end up here.  They are kept in pens in the dark and only given water as the idea is to make the bears not want to return to this sort of captive state.  Once Hudson Bay freezes they release the bears and they continue their migration north over the frozen bay.  Hunting and feeding on seals.  There are currently 28 bears in this holding facility.  This building is actually all that is left of a once very busy US military base in Churchill.

We continued on touring around the outskirts of Churchill, making numerous stops to take photographs.  We visited an old plane wreckage called “Miss Piggy”  this was a supply aircraft that took off one afternoon in the 1940’s only to blow an engine.  The aircraft ran into further trouble landing and ended up ditching close to the shore, and a 1/2 kilometer from the airport.  The avionics were removed and the aircraft became a piece of history.

On our way back into town, Steve stopped the bus to tell us about all these sled dogs which were chined up just outside of Churchill.  They are the last of the descendants of the original dog sled breed.

We visited the shoreline which is still not frozen and thus keeping the polar bears close to Churchill.  They have been spotting 40 to 50 bears each day, and tomorrow will be our first full day on the Tundra Vehicles so that should be pretty rewarding.

After lunch we visited the Eskimo museum and then had some spare time for exploring Churchill on our own before meeting for dinner at 6:00 this evening, then tonight we will attend a Slide Presentation by Mike Marci on Churchill and then weather permitting go out in search of the Northern Lights.

That’s it for today’s update from Churchill, it is currently -7 with a windchill that makes it fell like -20.  Tomorrow is a day out on the tundra and we will have lots of polar bear shots to share in Tuesdays post.  Good night from Churchill, from the chilled but very excited photo trekkers.

Enjoy the shots from today ....

Sunrise shortly after departing Winnipeg this morning.


Our first view of the tundra as we approach Churchill.


Final approach into Churchill.


Ramon leaving the aircraft and getting his first fell of the Churchill climate, it was very windy this morning when we landed.


Another view of our aircraft.  We flew via Calm Air and it was a very smooth flight ... no pun intended.


In the meeting area at Churchill Airport, Carmen, Peter, Colin, Bill and Brian as we wait for our luggage.


This is Steve our local guide.  He took us on a tour of Churchill and region today and will be staying with us during the weeks tour.


Here’s a shot of the Polar Bear Holding facility.  There are currently 28 bears being held and will be released once the ice freezes on the Hudson.  Some times the bears are flown out approx 60 km via helicopter, but usually return within 24 hours.


Harold taking a shot before we got back into the bus.


This is one of the polar bear traps they sometimes use.


Here’s a shot of the old plane wreckage, “Miss Piggy”.


This is one of the sled dogs, there were approximately 100 in this area as we drove through.


Another one checking us out.


This old gal was beautiful and stopped to pose for us.


Sue taking a shot of the giant inukshuk down by the bay.


It does not seem to be to cold for Ramon as he stops to catch some sun or would that be wind.????


That’s far enough Brian.  These signs are posted all over Churchill, cautioning that bears can be beyond this point.


A street view of Churchill.


We stopped at the post office to have our passports stamped showing the unique Churchill Postal Stamp.  The wildlife managers office is next door and this sign gives you updates of the polar bear stats.  Number of bears, sitings etc.


Inside the Eskimo museum ... I think Brian wants to rub noses!!!!!


A stuffed polar bear in the museum.  This is as close as we got to one today.


There were many interesting exhibits in the museum, check out the beautiful work in this outfit.  The museum had many carvings.


Here is one of the many carvings.  There was even a carving that an artist did with a couple of his own teeth.


Sue and Brian wanting to pose with the bear.  Guess we had to do the tourist type shots too.


Churchill Port and grain elevators.


Ela with a new friend?  Is that you Brian?????


Carmen and Ramon checking out the Northern.  This is the grocery store, hardware store, clothing and even fridges and skidoo’s.  You name it they have it and this is the only place you will get it.


Our final shot today is our first group photo of the trek.  Good night from all of us in Churchill.


Tags : PolarBearsDayTwo

Please add a comment

Posted by Claire Kett on
Looks really really cold up there. Love the photos of the sled dogs. Their eyes are fascinating. Have a great day tomorrow.
Posted by Nancy Anne on
Gotta love those puppies!
Posted by Shari on
Great photos. The sled dog shots are fabulous. Looks like a great trip so far. Hopefully some northern lights shots to come and lots of polar bears.
Posted by Jane on
Too bad it was only 13 in London today. Keep tabs on Brian, he probably can't read those warning signs!!

Look forward to seeing the bears tomorrow. Stay warm!! Jane
Posted by Diane Weiler on
Too Cool! - Literally and figuratively! Looking forward to seeing your first photos of the bears. Hey Bill - Don't forget to put sunscreen on your nose and any other exposed parts!! There's no moss growing on you Sue! Do you ever wake up and wonder where in the world you are now? Ahhh? If it's November ...It must be Churchill!

Have Fun! I hope the northern lights shine beautifully on you all.
Ciao for Now,
Posted by marysia on
It sunny here today, hope you have wonderful day.
Still waiting for the real bear.
The one in the store do not count!!!!!
Posted by Patti on
What gorgeous pups!!! It looks pretty chilly folks. Winter in London will be balmy after this trip.
Posted by Susan on
Leslie ~ Can't wait to see your pics!
hmmm cold enough there, but no ski hill ~ ??? 
Thanx for sending the link.