by Churchill Wild Polar Bear Guide Andy MacPherson
The Oceans North Expedition led by Virginia Petch of Northern Lights Heritage Services spent a week up at Hubbard Point in early July, once again researching the wild history of the fabulous Hudson Bay coastline.
John Tronrud and I built the camp and kept everyone safe from large white fuzzy predators. Building it required moving considerable quantities of equipment, tents, electric fencing and even a 6×6 which was carefully loaded and moved up the coast on my precious Zodiac.
As usual, Hudson Bay weather and polar bears were a deciding factor in how to move and when, but for the most part the exploratory archeology was accomplished as needed.
John and I were lucky enough to spend 10 days living in luxury at our “Jack Batstones Oceanfront Villa” just south of Hubbard Point, while hosting the 10 enthusiastic archaeologists. Our accommodation needed a little tender love and care but soon became very livable if not a little drafty where the one wall had separated from the floor.
Mike splurged and provided some new bright yellow Arctic Ovens, which were of course far less drafty and much warmer for our guests. Our very lively electric fence kept the larger locals out while also allowing the much smaller neighbouring Arctic ground squirrels free access to John’s culinary treats. Kraft dinner and wieners were a favourite!
Virginia Petch and her team plunged into the mysteries of Hubbard Point, trying to discover who lived there and when, and how they survived. Petch’s research indicated that the oldest dwellings dated back 900 years and belonged to the Thule culture which originated in coastal Alaska, but which eventually migrated down from the cooler climates found further north. Research also indicated that the Thule people survived on caribou, seal, walrus, and polar bear as well as numerous other small birds and mammals.
We had an action packed week of hiking two miles each morning and evening to and from Hubbard Point, and we were much luckier than in previous years when we were often hampered by inclement weather that kept us from reaching our destination by boat.
Bad weather hit on the day the camp was to be pulled out but we managed to move the campers to Churchill with a combination of boat to Seal River and then some quick flights from the Seal River Heritage Lodge landing strip to town. Final tear down and clean up was delayed a few days but was accomplished in relatively painless fashion with the help of Adam driving the Relic and Kimberly and Shayna assisting the boat loading off the beach.
While the locals were kept at bay by the electric fence and our constant attentiveness, we were still visited by no less than three sets of mothers and cubs, and all in all it was a successful outing.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing Virginia and her crew back at Hubbard Point for many years to come!