Stark, cold, windy, forbidding--my first impressions as I glimpsed the Hudson Bay for the first time. It was spitting rain and windy as we took our introductory tour of the historic Churchill Fort positioned on the shore of the bay at the mouth of the Churchill River.
Impossible to ignore--the presence of an armed guard patrolling the area. The guard's presence gave an immediate sense of place--the western shore of the Hudson Bay, a region where polar bears gather to wait for the first ice to freeze. Bears do wander into town from time to time and encounter humans, and those experiences are not desireable for either the humans or the bears. That is what the patrol is about--keeping both bears and people safe.
The geology, the native culture, the climate and the polar bears, all give Churchill a mystical quality that was hard to absorb in a brief visit. There was much more I wanted to explore. Below, you see a memorial stone errected to commemorate the earliest explorations of the area. The boulders that cover the ground along the shore were flattened and smoothed by the movement of glaciers in centuries past, giving the area an other-worldly appearance.
Henry Hudson was the first explorer to arrive in the Hudson Bay area in 1610. In 1619, the Danish explorer, Jens Munck, explored the mouth of the Churchill River and wintered over in this area. 61 of his crew members died of disease and exposure, but Munck and two other crew members survived to return to Europe in 1620.
In 1670 the Hudson Bay Company was established making it the oldest commerical corporation in the world with its beginnings based on the lucrative fur trade in the area and the high demand for beaver pelts to make hats in Europe.
journey to Churchill, Manitoba, to see Polar Bears including a visit to Riding Mountain National Park. Click the journey to Churchill link to see all the posts. The most recent post will appear first. When you reach the end of the page, click "older post" to continue with the series.
Hudson Bay Buggies and Bears with Rail Travel Tours
Learn about Polar Bears
History of Churchill from Churchill Science
the impact of sea ice decline