Sign Up for our Newsletter!
1-866-UGO-WILD (846-9453)

Archive for April, 2011

Churchill Wild 2010 Photo Contest Winners

Best Polar Bear Photo – 1rst Place

Best Polar Bear Photo 2010 Churchill Wild Photo Contest - Photo by Allan Gold

Freshly done nails… Photo by Allan Gold

The Churchill Wild 2010 Photo Contest has officially come to a close. Guests from all of our adventures submitted their favorite photos and it was great to see all those magical moments again!

We saw polar bears wandering the icy coast line, lazily lounging on rocks and some even sparring.  Guests got up close and personal with polar bears and some enjoyed an awesome display of northern lights.

No matter what the photo, each submission was good for one reason or another, which made this an extremely tough job for our judge.  We do like to keep him on his toes!  Dennis Fast was in charge of judging the contest this year and he has done a great job. It was very tough naming just one first prize winner for each category.

Please watch for all submissions to be posted on the Churchill Wild Web site next week. Without further adieu we announce the winners of this year’s photo contest.

Best Polar Bear Photo – 2nd Place

Best Polar Bear Photo 2nd Place Rudolf Hug

I can make your heart beat faster… Photo by Rudolf Hug

Best Other Arctic Wildlife Photo – 1st Place

Arctic Wildlife Photo Other Winner Sean Crane

Breakfast on the rocks… Photo by Sean Crane

Best Other Arctic Wildlife Photo – 2nd Place

Arctic Ground Squirrel Photo

Cheeky… Photo by Robert Postma

Best Arctic Landscape Photo – 1st Place

Polar Bear Walking on Tundra - Best Arctic Landscape Photo by Jessica Ellis

Solitary walk… Photo by Jessica Ellis

Best Arctic Landscape Photo – 2nd Place

Arctic Landscape Photo 2nd Place Howard Sheridan

On the prowl… Photo by Howard Sheridan

Best People Photo – 1st Place

Arctic People Photo Winner Photo by Robert Postma

Arctic romance… Photo by Robert Postma

Best People Photo – 2nd Place

Arctic People Photo 2nd Photo by Claire Wilson

Couples… inside and out… Photo by Claire Wilson

We tried to think of some fun taglines for the photos, but if you have some better ideas, please let us know. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who entered! And congratulations to the winners!

Walking with polar bears… in the summer? Perhaps our guests say it best! What’s on your bucket list?

Polar bear in fireweed sticking tongue out

Why is this polar bear sticking his tongue out? Photo Credit: Michael Poliza

Our Birds, Bears & Belugas summer polar bear trip has become a hot ticket item among bucket-listers, especially at the trade shows we’ve been attending. That’s understandable. After all, where else in the world can you actually walk on the tundra with polar bears?

Our remote location north of Churchill, Manitoba on the coast of Hudson Bay is part of a vast coastal polar bear waiting room,  where the bears dream away the summer while they wait for the sea ice (their personal hunting ground) to return. Bears saunter by our Seal River Lodge on a daily basis, providing fabulous polar bear viewing, photography and video opportunities. They often come right up to the lodge windows and the front door! The scent of the gourmet meals at Seal River Lodge is probably part of the reason they visit so consistently, but we don’t feed them.

And if the polar bears are not in our back yard, peering in the lodge windows or lazing around the front door, we’re out on the tundra looking for them. And we do find them!

Beluga Whales on Hudson Bay - Michael Poliza Photo

Beluga Whales on Hudson Bay - Photo Credit: Michael Poliza

We’ve got beluga whales here too, and as weather permits we’re out on Hudson Bay in the Zodiaks jumping into the water and snorkeling with these ghostly white creatures. The polar bears, like the people, are interested in the belugas too (though for slightly different reasons) and we’ve actually seen them hunting beluga whales from the coastal rocks.

This isn’t polar bear watching from a buggy, this is on the ground viewing up close and personal. With gourmet meals in a remote fly-in polar bear lodge that would be considered luxurious by arctic standards. You have to be a bit of an adventurer to enjoy it, but that’s precisely why Birds, Bears & Belugas is making it on to so many bucket lists.

Perhaps our guests tell it best…

Recent Testimonials

Polar bear observing hikers

Who is that in the background? Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

We had outstanding up-close-and-personal access to polar bears and belugas that we would never have dreamed possible. We felt we were visitors in the bears’ home (rather than being at a zoo where humans are in control), yet we always felt safe. — Kerrie

There is NOTHING like walking amongst the top predator of North America that makes you acutely alive! The appreciation for every nuance of a glance or shuffle increased my awareness 100-fold. And to swim with belugas too??? Incredible, and unbelievable! Magic is an overused word, but it was indeed magic. I am so thankful I got to experience it all! — Leslie

Hosts Mike & Jeanne Reimer and their top-notch crew hosted us like family, feasted us like royalty and sent us home shaking our heads and still wondering, “was that for real?”  There is simply no wildlife viewing experience that tops this in North American, and probably in the world.  Just how close do you get?  While filming a bear that came up to greet me through their lodge’s observation fence, I smelt his hot breath.  And while hiking the tundra, our guides often determined that it was safe for us to get within a 100 feet of them. — Paul Schurke, Great Northern Adventure Blog

More from TripAdvisor.com

Polar bear saunters by hikers at Seal River Lodge

Polar bear saunters by hikers at Seal River Lodge. Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

My family and I have recently returned from Canada and we had an amazing six days at The Seal River Heritage Lodge. It is a remote lodge which you reach by float plane from Churchill. We saw lots of polar bears and had an amazing experience swimming with beluga whales in the Hudson Bay – a once in a lifetime experience. The lodge was very comfortable and had great views out onto the Hudson Bay and the food was superb. The guides were amazingly knowledgeable about the local wildlife and were so welcoming with our 2 children aged 11 and 12. Our daughter made a plaster cast of wolf prints, which she was able to bring home. Great experience would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.  If you go, say hello to the belugas and polar bears for me. — Mrs. M. Smith

The reason I chose Churchill Wild over all other Churchill tours was the fact you go out hiking in bear country… Unbelievable! — Irish Captain

I am a wildlife photographer and have traveled to all seven continents pursuing great photographs of earth’s most amazing creatures. Polar bears were right at the top of my “amazing creature” list, of course, so finding the right venue to photograph them was of major importance. It’s important to note that I am somewhat tough to please regarding photographic opportunities. So, where do I go and how do I get close to the bears with unobstructed views in a safe environment? Polar bears do have a reputation, you know. OK, there are the tundra buggies out of Churchill. Do I want to spend all day in a crowded vehicle and then photograph bears from 12 ft. above them? Then, what about Norway? Do I want to attempt to view the bears from a long distance aboard a ship around Spitzbergen with the possibility of not even seeing a bear? For me, the clear answer to these questions was a resounding “no”. — Larry G. Kinney

A big thank you to Dennis Fast and Michael Poliza for many of the photos in the above gallery!

For help in taking Birds, Bears & Belugas summer polar bear watching off your bucket list, call Churchill Wild Toll Free at  1.866.UGO.WILD (846-9453) or 1.204.377.5090. You can also e-mail us at info@churchillwild.com.

Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce – A Churchill Wild Favorite!

Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce

Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce - A Lodge Favorite! And it's even better than it looks!

Here it is! A Churchill Wild favorite re-posted by special request. A delectable dessert that results in past guests’ mouths watering whenever it’s mentioned. Jeanne Reimer swears the wild cranberries make all the difference but feel free to try it at home. This recipe and many more are available in the Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbooks. Let us know what your favorite is we’ll post it in the future.

Cranberry CakeIngredients

  • 3 cups  flour 750ml
  • 4 tsp  baking powder 20ml
  • ½ tsp  salt 2ml
  • 3 tbsp  butter or margarine 45ml
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 375ml
  • 1 ½ tsp  vanilla 7ml
  • 1 ½ cups milk 375ml
  • 3 cups wild cranberries 750ml

Butter SauceIngredients

  • ¾ cup  butter OR margarine 175ml
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 375ml
  • ¾ cup  evaporated milk OR cream 175ml

Directions

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Note: It does not get all creamy and fluffy as it does in a butter cake, as the ratio of butter to sugar is not high enough. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating after each addition, just until it is mixed. Stir in the cranberries. (If you are using large commercial cranberries, chop them up a bit.)

Spread the batter in a greased 9 x 13” (23 x 33cm) pan.  Bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched.

The secret is in the sauce: combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  A wire whisk is very helpful to keep the sauce smooth.

Serve the sauce warm over the cake. Serves 12.

Enjoy!

Could President Obama and family walk with Churchill polar bears? Yes. They could.

Polar Bear Viewing Observatory Dining Room on Hudson Bay

New polar bear viewing observatory/dining room at Seal River Lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast

When Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer’s daughters Kate and Emily invited U.S. President Barack Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia to visit the polar bears in Churchill a few years ago it got us thinking. They probably considered visiting Churchill, but it’s unlikely they knew they could actually walk on the tundra with polar bears, or swim in Hudson Bay with beluga whales.

Churchill Wild eco-lodge owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer say the Obama and Doer families would be more than welcome to do just that at their Seal River Heritage Lodge 40 miles north of Churchill on the Hudson Bay coast.

“It’s the only place in Canada where you can actually go out and walk with the polar bears in their natural environment,” said Mike Reimer, who has been stomping the terra with the polar bears for over 30 years. “We would absolutely love to have the Obama and Doer families visit our polar bear eco-lodges and take part in all the activities we have to offer.”

Polar bear outside new Seal River Lodge dining room Summer 2010

Polar bear intently watching Hudson Bay outside Seal River Lodge

That of course, would include walking with polar bears on the coast of Hudson Bay and snorkeling with beluga whales in Hudson Bay, not to mention eating gourmet meals straight from the award-winning cookbook series Blueberries and Polar Bears, which were co-written by Jeanne Reimer’s mother Helen Webber of Webber’s Lodges.

Helen is married to Webber’s Lodges owner and former Churchill mayor Doug Webber. She is certainly no stranger to hosting dignitaries at the Webber’s home in Churchill and preparing spectacular feasts for them, including Ambassador Doer when he was Premier of Manitoba,

Helen’s dinner parties in Churchill are legendary, the last of which was held for the top international executives of the Canadian Tourism Commission, who later flew out to see the polar bears at Seal River Lodge. The dinner, and the trip to Seal River Lodge, received rave reviews.

Gourmet Dinner at Churchill Wild

Gourmet Goose Dinner at Churchill Wild

First Lady Michelle Obama, who is promoting healthy eating as her platform while in the White House, would likely enjoy herself immensely in Churchill Wild’s family-run tundra kitchen, which prides itself on utilizing the freshest ingredients available from the surrounding landscapes.

Mrs. Obama launched her Let’s Move initiative to battle childhood obesity and improve the quality of food in U.S. schools in February, 2010 and on March 16, 2011 she reached an agreement with Crown Publishing Group to author a cookbook in which she will talk about the garden she established on the South Lawn of the White House. Due out in 2012, Mrs. Obama’s new cookbook will also explore how improved access to fresh, locally grown food can promote healthier eating habits for families and communities. You can watch the video about the White House Garden here.

“Last year we built the new dining room,” said Reimer. “Right now we’re hauling in a new gourmet kitchen. It was designed by Len Friesen and it will be the first of its kind in the arctic. We’re planning on having a Celebrity Chef Contest at some point with a combination of original creations and recipes from the Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbooks that will feature seal, caribou, moose, goose, arctic char, northern pike, lake trout, local plant garnishes, wild blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. In between cooking sessions we’ll be out on the tundra with the polar bears or swimming with whales. We would love for Mrs. Obama to participate!”

But seriously, fabulous food and cooking contests aside, what about safety and secret service and fighter planes?

Polar bear in fireweed at Seal River Lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast near Churchill

Polar bear in fireweed. Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

“We’ve never had a polar bear problem in the 30 years that we’ve operated our lodges,” said Reimer. “It’s a unique, once in a lifetime experience and our guests love being able to get up close and personal with the polar bears. It’s one of the few places on earth where you can actually go out and walk with the bears, and there are numerous safety measures in place. I’m not sure what the bears would think of secret service agents and jet fighters. They probably wouldn’t even notice.”

While he was Premier of Manitoba, Ambassador Doer persuaded numerous high-profile people to visit Churchill, including Janet Napolitano, who is now President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security; David Wilkins, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada; and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Last fall, famous visitors to Churchill included George Stroumboulopoulos, Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida and Martha Stewart.

Still, try to imagine the Turbo Beaver taking off from Churchill for Seal River Lodge accompanied by fighter jets. Or the curious looks on the polar bears’ faces when the secret service agents arrive with the Obama family. And what kind of boat would be required if the Obama and Doer families decided to go swimming with the beluga whales? Would the Zodiaks suffice?

“It would something very special for us,” said Reimer. “We would like to extend a heartfelt open invitation to both the Obama and the Doer families to visit Seal River Lodge any time. It would be an incredible honor.”