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Posts Tagged ‘polar bear trip’

Wish to see Polar Bears in Churchill comes true thanks to Make-A-Wish Foundation and Churchill Wild

This is from Azzurra Riley’s Blog.  She is a 10-year-old old girl who came to Churchill Wild‘s Seal River Lodge through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Guests are greeted by both staff and Polar Bears

Guests are greeted by both staff and Polar Bears

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.

Eye to eye with the mighty Polar Bear

Eye to eye with the mighty Polar Bear

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

Make-A-Wish® Canada is part of the largest not-for-profit wish granting organization in the world, serving 30 countries with international affiliates on five continents (Make-A-Wish International®).

Make A Wish Foundation

You Can Help Make a Child's Dream Come True

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.

Churchill polar bears make Olympic Torch weekend memorable in Manitoba

Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbook

Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbook

The weekend of November 6-8, 2009 was an exciting time to be in Churchill, Manitoba. Not only was polar bear season in full swing, the Olympic Torch also made its way into this tiny arctic seaport community of less than 1000 round residents.

The weekend celebrations began with a town social (a Manitoba tradition to party and raise money for events and charities).  There was an excellent turn out of local townspeople, tour operators and especially tourists, who were flocking to the Polar Bear Capital of the World to try and catch a glimpse of these ice giants.

Saturday was a typical day in Churchill during bear season. The streets were filled with tourists and buses were zooming back and forth with people going to see the polar bears on one of the massive buggies that operate just east of the town.

At the Webber house, Helen and I were busy in the kitchen preparing a meal fit for a king. We had been asked by Lynda Gunter of Frontiers North if we could host a dinner for a group of people who were here to see polar bears and take part in the Olympic Torch Run.

Cranberries & Canada Geese Cookbook

Cranberries & Canada Geese Cookbook

Our guests showed up that evening after a very eventful day on the Tundra Buggy. Among them were Steve Allen, the Chairman of the Board for the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), and his wife Marjie; Charles McKee, Vice President International for the CTC; Sandra Teakle, the CTC representative from France; and Donna Campbell, the CTC representative from Australia. Our guests were also staying at the Webber house for the weekend!

Dinner went off beautifully and our 15 guests also included Lynda and Merv Gunter from Frontiers North, their son John and his wife Lisa Joy. The only interruption of the evening was the postponement of dessert so we could all go out and enjoy the fireworks display that was put on that night.

After breakfast the next morning we ventured out to watch as the Olympic Torch was carried through Churchill to the Town Square, where the Olympic Cauldron was lit. Among the officials in attendance were the President of Coke, the new Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger, and Deputy Premier Eric Robinson, Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs.

Icebergs & Belugas Cookbook

Icebergs & Belugas Cookbook

After watching the Olympic ceremonies we took a group of seven from the CTC and crowded into the Turbo Beaver for the 25-minute flight north along the coast of the Hudson Bay to Seal River Heritage Lodge. We thought we were just going for quick lunch, but upon arrival there was a sleeping polar bear only 100 yards away from the airplane.

The big white bear awoke from his sleep and proceeded to check out the new arrivals! He was within 20-yards of us before he decided we were not a threat, and he sauntered off to his napping spot again. We made the 10-minute trek to the Lodge through six inches of glistening white snow, all the while keeping an eye on our new white friend, who had moved to the runway to pushover one of our marking signs.

After a quick lunch of Hamburger Soup and Chocolate Banana Crater Cake, our hosts Mike and Jeanne Reimer, gave us a bit of an orientation, including a history of the area. We took a quick tour of the Lodge, and got the call that the plane was in the air already on its way to pick us up. That was quick! Ten minutes later we looked out the window and saw nothing. We were fogged in and it wouldn’t lift until sundown, which made it too late for the plane to take off from Churchill. We were at the Lodge for the night.

Black Currants & Caribou Cookbook

Black Currants & Caribou Cookbook

But there was more than enough room, and the staff appeared to enjoy accommodating an extra seven people for the night. In fact, our extra guests were treated no differently than any other. They enjoyed appetizers and cocktails, as well as the slide shows we present in the evenings about polar bears and the local wild life in and around our Lodge and the Churchill area. Everyone had a bed to sleep in, their bellies were full, and we even found extra toothbrushes and contact solution!

We awoke to a stunning sunrise over the ice forming on Hudson Bay. And just when the sun had fully risen, a large male bear walked up the road and right to the front door of the Lodge. He must have smelled breakfast! And all of our guests had a chance to get up close and personal with the bear while staying in the warmth and comfort of the Lodge. We made it out of the Lodge that morning and everyone made it home safe and sound.

For many in the group it was the polar bear trip of a lifetime.

The friendships and memories created that weekend will certainly last that long.