A family history of adventure tourism.
Twenty-five years ago, guide Mike Reimer and professional photographer Dennis Fast were flying north up the coast from Churchill, Manitoba to look at a few tumbled down shacks near the mouth of the Seal River. They were hoping to find a spot for a lodge.
Fast shook his head in disbelief when he first saw the site.
“You better buy it quick before Jeanne (Reimer) sees it!”
They did, and the rest, as they say, is history. A history that goes back on Jeanne Reimer’s side of the family for close to 100 years in northern Manitoba; and which now includes four luxury eco-lodges, three of which are located deep in the heart of polar bear country on the Hudson Bay coast.
Jeanne’s parents, Doug and Helen Webber, met, married, and raised their children in Churchill and have been involved in adventure tourism in the Arctic region for over 40 years. Going even further back, Helen Webber’s father Fred Martin, along with his future brother-in-law Oscar Sigurdson, established a trading post on the Maguse River in the Northwest Territories in the late 1930s.
In 1941 Helen’s parents were married and her mother made the move to the trading post from Churchill (a 240 mile trip made by boat or dogsled). In the 1960s Doug and Helen Webber started both a family and business together, Webber’s Lodges. Daughters Jeanne, Toni and Shari contributed to the business from the moment they could, expediting, hauling building supplies, cooking, cleaning, conducting guest mail outs, fueling aircraft, and much (much) more.
Mike Reimer was a southern Manitoba farm boy with a passion for the north. His adventures landed him a job with Doug and Helen at their luxury fishing lodge, North Knife Lake Lodge. Nature’s chemistry worked its magic, and in 1988 Mike Reimer married Jeanne Webber.
Churchill Wild (and a new family!) became a reality a few years later, and Mike and Jeanne continued their long-standing tradition of family-owned and operated adventure tourism in the north, expanding and pioneering the world’s first and only polar bear walking tours.
Churchill Wild now operates polar bear walking tours and photo safaris from its three remote fly-in eco-lodges on the Hudson Bay coast, including Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge, Seal River Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, as well as a new northern lights viewing adventure from their North Knife Lake Lodge.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without our guests,” said Mike. “A big polar bear hug goes out to all of you, for spending your hard earned dollars and time with us. We have thoroughly enjoyed your company and made many lifelong friends.”
“Thank you for making this all possible.”