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Winter visit to Churchill?

Warroad, MN USA
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9 posts
60 reviews
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Winter visit to Churchill?

Believe it or not, I'm not all that interested in seeing the polar bears. Would a trip up in late February be interesting at all? I think it would just be neat to go that far north in the wintertime. I live in northern MN, so it's not far to get to Winnipeg and then get on the train from there. Have any of you gone during that time of the year?

Tierra Verde...
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1. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

I just returned from Churchill a couple of days before Thanksgiving. The Tundra and Boreal Forest is special as is the ice. But you will see Polar Bear, Moose and Red Fox. You will enjoy it and for the trip check out Natural Habitat Adventures. The polar bear season is past, but the Aurora is next.

Warroad, MN USA
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9 posts
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2. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

Thank you for the information....it sounds wonderful!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

February is not a good time for seeing the polar bears given that by that time they are far away on the ice fishing/hunting/eating. October/November are the prime bear viewing months in and around Churchill.

FYI on the train, it is not very dependable in the winter, so be advised if you do plan on taking it into Churchill.

Ladysmith, Canada
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4. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

i was thinking of taking the train to churchill in early march. what do you mean that the train is not very reliable? will it leave me stranded somewhere along the way?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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5. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

It runs late regularly . . . and by late, sometimes a day or more!

Churchill, Canada
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6. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

Take another look at the train situation, you keep saying it's unreliable in the winter and that could not be further from the truth. The train has arrived at 8 a.m. faithfully for months.

Graton, CA
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7. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

My family and I just returned from Churchill where we had gone on an Aurora Safari, and frankly I was kind of relieved NOT to encounter any polar bears as I have a distinct problem with any animal who could swat my head off with a casual swipe of his immense paw. For us the adventure was just to go so incredibly far north (I'm originally from southern California) in such fantastic cold, which might not be such a treat for somebody from Minnesota. I also love train travel, and it's not easy to get to Churchill any other way than the two-day train trip from Winnipeg.

Plusses: it's cold -- my gawd is it cold! Temperatures soared to 9 degrees above zero on our departure day and some locals seemed to think this was shirt-sleeve weather. I liked it, though it was a challenge to deal with. Churchill is a "small town" and I like small towns. I was thrilled to walk on Hudson Bay (on it, not in it) and the cultural museums there are very interesting. We stayed at The Aurora Inn because our room featured a complete kitchen, a definite boon if you cook; there's a well stocked supermarket with everything you could want just around the corner. There are plenty of opportunities for local excursions to see polar bears, Wapusk N.P., helicopter rides, sled dog rides, etc., as well as community happenings like cookouts and games. It's also Canada, and Canadians are almost unfailingly nice people. The train ride was swell, staffed by very friendly attendants, and quite comfy (I always travel Sleeper Class). We were also either on time or ahead of schedule going up.

Minuses: We were so late going south that our attendant, a lovely individual, treated my family to a free meal in the diner car...but the food on the Churchill/Winnipeg train is pretty miserable; frozen microwaved stuff unhappily reminiscent of "Lean Cuisine" and not even included in the ticket price as per usual. In fact it was kind of expensive, and in very modest portions. And you know, everything is kind of expensive up there. It's hardly surprising since it's 1800 kilometers south to Winnipeg, so everything from soup to nuts has to be hauled all the blasted way up there. It's also a "company town," with the immense grain silo facility at the north end of the peninsula being the biggest employer, and I was bitterly disappointed no to be allowed to even see the inside of it, since my grandfather (a Saskatchewan wheat farmer) sent his annual crop through here for export his entire life and this is arguably the closest I would ever get to the old boy (he died long before I was born), but apparently since 11 September 2001 the Americans declared this spot a "security risk" --?!?-- and entry is forbidden. Huh; thank you, George W. Bush, for another foreign policy triumph. And though I hesitate to mention it, I had some unhappy encounters with First Nation people (Cree, Inuit, etc.) whenever I ventured to the store to buy a beer. Alcohol seems to be a serious problem for them. One shop I went into had a very drunken chap ranting at the counter about not being served even though he "wasn't drunk," by which he apparently meant "wasn't unconscious," while another actually DID feature two semi-comatose Indians lying out in the snow near the door --- at about 11:00 in the morning. I was, to be frank, kind of shocked at this, and did not appreciate being hit up to buy other slob-drunk guys some cheap sherry the same way I've been hit up by pimply underage hooligans back in California, and then cursed out when I declined to do so. The sober ones I met were not especially friendly, either. I can't say I blame them, considering their dreadfully unhappy history, but it sure didn't perk up my trip.

Lynn Lake, Canada
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84 posts
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8. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

Churchill is a great town. Do your research before going. The train takes two days on time. When the bog starts to thaw the tracks move and the train derails and takes longer. So between June and oct, except delays. Via rail will not notify you of these. Pack your own food, and you'll be fine. Snack are the same as you would pay in the north, not cheap.

The auroa lights, feb and march. Winter carnival march. Belugas June to aug. bears get no land and can be found if looking hard July till oct. bear season oct and early nov. birding season late may till early July.

There are tour groups, rental cars, tons of hotels and resturants. Do your research and you'll have a blast. I saw many people get off the train while I was living there and arrive dr the wrong season, which can be a huge disappointment.

MSG me if needed

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9. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

Churchill's Aurora Winter Festival and Gillam's winter carnivals are usually mid-March every year. One of the highlights is the Hudson Bay Quest Dogsled race. It has been run from Gillam to Churchill for the past 3 years but this year it is starting in Churchill on March 13th and the racers should start arriving in Gillam late Friday, early Saturday. Having attended the last couple dog sled starts from Gillam, there is quite a bit of excitement from both the dogs and the crowds at the Start Line, we'll have to see how it is at the finish line this year! There is also the awards banquet dinner on Sunday, March 16th for the mushers and anyone else lucky enough to grab tickets.

Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: Winter visit to Churchill?

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