CHIEF ARCTIC EXPLORER
The 7-hour journey begins tomorrow at 5 a.m. where we make our way to LAX for our flight to Winnipeg. After an overnight in Winnipeg we catch a short flight to Churchill, Canada (population 900). The next morning we will take a turbo beaver plane to Seal River Lodge, which is located in the wilderness of the Northern Manitoba Tundra. Seal River is a natural habitat for wildlife, in particular the Polar Bears.
POLAR BEAR CAPITOL OF THE WORLD
We now find ourselves in Churchill, Manitoba a small town 800 miles north of Winnipeg, in the frozen sub-arctic tundra. Its latitude is 57 degrees north. This small community has one main street, no traffic lights, bill boards, only one paved road, and no cell phone towers. We got off the 26-passenger plane, where we were greeted by Rose who works for Seal River in Churchill. Rose organizes guests, as wall as supplies for the lodge. She took us to Helen Webber’s home where we would be staying while in Churchill.
After we met Helen, saw our rooms and got cleaned up, we visited Brenda at the Northern Images arts shops. This particular store is part of a co-op program across northern Canada that allows the northern and local goods to be showcased. Brenda explained to us the native ways of life such as trapping, and living in the North. She then showed us many of the clothing items that are still used today. Some of these items include seal skin coats for the children, Caribou fur outer shoes, and a special infant-carrying jacket.
After we met with Brenda we walked down the street to dinner at the Northern Nights Hotel and Restaurant. Being a remote town in the middle of nowhere, everything is flown in, delivered by train, caught or picked off the land. Most of the meat up here is fish, Snow Geese, or Caribou which can all be found right outside. All the restaurant menus depend on what is available at the time of year.
The next day we got up and had breakfast with Helen, who was renamed the “President of Churchill” by my father. Being an established chef with lots of cookbooks, Helen’s breakfast was amazing. Afterwards, Rose came to pick us up to go to the tundra buggy docking station. We went over safety instructions and then headed off to see some Polar Bears!
Early the next morning we were driven to the airport. We quickly boarded the small 8-passenger turbo beaver and flew for about 28 minutes. While flying we spotted both Caribou and Polar Bears. We then landed on the short gravel runway and were at Seal River Lodge. Just as we were taking off our coats and boots, we were greeted by an unexpected visitor; a huge Polar Bear!! It came right up against one of the windows in the main living room, not even two feet from where I was standing!!! The guides were telling us that he usually came around when the plane flew in and was given the name Bob and the role of the greeting committee.
After the excitement we waited for the other people to arrive, had lunch, and then it was out into the wild. We hiked for two hours and saw five bears as well as ptarmigans (birds), snow buntings (birds), a snowy owl, and an arctic hare.
ARCTIC EXPLORER HOME AT LAST
We have gone from -20 degrees to +85. I had so much fun but I’m happy to be home. Although I am upset to be away from the cute but not too cuddly Polar Bears. I learnt so much about all the animals, the natives and the culture of the north. It was great to learn so much from the locals too. One thing I love about Churchill and Seal River is that the people are so consciences of their environment and go out of their way to be very eco friendly. It’s all about the animals. I know we could learn one or two things from them!
I had an amazing trip!!!!!!
About Make-A-Wish® Canada
Since inception in 1980, Make-A-Wish® has helped make over 225,000 wishes come true for children around the world. Make-A-Wish® in Canada consists of eight regional Chapters and the Canada Office, which is located in Toronto, Ontario. We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.