After taking a 45-hour train ride from the southern Canadian city of Winnipeg to the arctic town of Churchill, Manitoba, author Lori Henry was transported from summer comfort to northern shock. She spent her first night getting acclimatized at the local Legion Hall, where she met a group of characters who would guide her through the next week and a half.
One of them, Lorne, offered to take her out the next day on the unofficial tour of the town, and it was here that she learned about the Polar Bear Jail, the domes where Japanese tourists go to try to get pregnant, and the beluga whales that "chirp" under the water as they gather nearby in the thousands. And that was just the first day...
Synopsis Snorkelling with beluga whales was one of the most extraordinary things travel writer Lori Henry has ever done. Plunging into the arctic Hudson Bay waters, she listened to their high pitched “talking” and was startled when the belugas seemed to actually play with her.
That doesn’t mean the author didn’t note seeing a polar bear. She writes, “We left the mouth of the river and headed west around Fort Prince of Wales and into Button Bay, where a polar bear was lounging on a rock less than 100 metres away.” She includes many bear stories from the locals.
Churchill is a subarctic community in northern Manitoba. Situated on the shores of western Hudson Bay, the town of about 1,000 residents sees upwards of 3,000 beluga whales swimming in the Churchill River every summer, and 800-900 polar bears co-exist with the town’s residents and in the nearby Wapusk National Park, where mother bears den. This is one of the largest known polar bear maternity denning areas in the world.
Churchill: Navigating bugs, belugas and polar bears tells the tale of the wildlife, the landscape and the colourful local characters that Lori met in this northern town.
Author’s Bio Lori Henry has swam with beluga whales in Churchill, made it to the high arctic community of Resolute Bay in Nunavut, and won fourth place at a Métis jigging competition in Saskatchewan. When not exploring her home country of Canada, she can be found studying dance and indigenous cultures around the world.