Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- How do I get to Churchill?
- What is the average temperature in Churchill?
- What should I wear/what kind of clothes should I bring for my trip to Churchill?
- Should I change my currency to Canadian dollars before heading to Churchill, or should I wait until I get there?
- Can I see polar bears, beluga whales, birds and the northern lights all in one trip?
- How many polar bears are there in the area?
- How many beluga whales are there in the Churchill River Estuary?
- How many species of birds are found in Churchill?
- When is the best time to see the aurora borealis (northern lights)?
- Why are the trees crooked/one-sided in Churchill?
- Was Churchill named after Winston Churchill?
- What is the Navy Base?
- What was Fort Churchill?
- When was the last rocket fired at the rocket range?
- What is being done to ensure sustainability of the area and the polar bears?
How do I get to Churchill?
Churchill has distinct seasons. For example, polar bear season is generally October and November of each year, while whale season tends to take place between late June and August. While by there is a possibility of seeing bears, belugas, birds and northern lights all in one trip, one should not count on it.
Air service to Churchill is available year-round, seven days a week. For fall trips, book your travel well in advance of departure date to ensure a space.
VIA Rail – 1-888-842-7245 (North America) / www.viarail.ca
Call VIA Rail for current departure and arrival schedules.
Local air charters while in Churchill:
Dymond Lake Air – 1-888-932-2377
Hudson Bay Helicopters – 1-204-675-2576 / www.hudsonbayheli.com
What is the average temperature in Churchill?
Find Churchill’s current weather conditions and forecasts at: www.weatheroffice.gc.ca. From the map of Canada, choose the province of Manitoba and town of Churchill for local conditions.
The daily average monthly temperatures in Churchill are as follows:
What should I wear/what kind of clothes should I bring for my trip to Churchill?
The clothes you should wear and bring will depend on the time of year that you decide to visit.
Fall – During polar bear season, be prepared for snow and cold conditions. Several layers of clothing, including an insulated parka or waterproof jacket, insulated boots, thick mitts or gloves, toque (woolen hat), and long underwear are recommended.
Winter – Add a balaclava, quality snow boots that are good to a temperature of -45˚ C (-25˚ F), snow/ski pants, and sunglasses to your fall weather gear.
Summer – A variety of clothing is required as temperatures can soar to above 25˚ C (85 F) and drop to 6˚ C (42 F). A good quality waterproof jacket, hat, sunglasses, hiking boots, shorts, pants, sunscreen, and bug repellent are recommended.
Be Bear Aware
While polar bears are a main attraction in Churchill, it pays to be wary of their possible presence at all times. Manitoba Conservation staffs a 24-hour alert line (675-2327 or 675-BEAR) to report bears that come into the Churchill town site as part of its Polar Bear Alert Program.
Should I change my currency to Canadian dollars before heading to Churchill, or should I wait until I get there?
To ensure the prevailing rate of exchange, visitors are advised to exchange their funds at any Canadian financial institution, bank, trust company, credit union, caisse populaire, or exchange booths at border entry points. Although U.S. money is readily accepted in Manitoba, using Canadian money is recommended.
Can I see polar bears, beluga whales, birds and the northern lights all in one trip?
Churchill has distinct seasons. For example bear season generally runs October and November of each year while whale season tends to take place late June to August. While by odd chance it is possible to see bears, belugas, birds and northern lights all in one trip one should not count on it.
How many polar bears are there in the area?
A new mark-recapture study undertaken by Canadian Wildlife Service indicates that there are between 900 and 1000 polar bears in the western Hudson Bay population.
How many beluga whales are there in the Churchill River Estuary?
It is estimated that there are approximately 3,000 beluga whales.
How many species of birds are found in Churchill?
Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the Churchill region.
When is the best time to see the aurora borealis (northern lights)?
The aurora borealis are most noticeable on clear nights from January to March and from late August to early September.
Why are the trees crooked/one-sided in Churchill?
Strong northwesterly winds hit the trees, preventing growth on one side. This is known as the Krumholz effect (meaning crooked wood).
Was Churchill named after Winston Churchill?
No, the town is named after John Churchill, the 3rd governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Duke of Marlborough. Interestingly, Winston Churchill was a direct descendent of John Churchill.
What is the Navy Base?
This was an active listening base during the Cold War and was considered a landlocked ship in the way it was operated. It was decommissioned in 1969 – however, the building still stands.
What was Fort Churchill?
Fort Churchill was the largest ever joint Canadian/US Military base where cold weather testing of weapons, equipment and fighting tactics took place. The Fort closed in 1979.
When was the last rocket fired at the rocket range?
The last rocket to be fired from the rocket range was in 1998.
What is being done to ensure sustainability of the area and the polar bears?
Companies offering polar bear experiences adhere to strict guidelines through Manitoba Conservation, for example, limiting the number of tundra vehicles operating in and around Churchill. The number of commercial tour operators and the number of vehicles permitted on the high-use areas east of the town site continues to be restricted. Measures are also taken to restrict travel to existing trails and designate some areas as off-limits.
For additional information, visit the Manitoba Conservation website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildlife/managing/polar_bears/index.html