More locations of note
The wreck of the MV Ithaca sits at the western tip of Bird Cove, close to town.
Mystery shrouds the exact details of this shipwreck that eerily disappears during swirling mists and high tide. One version of the story tells how the ship ran aground in a terrible windstorm in 1961 while carrying nickel ore from Rankin Inlet to Montreal. Another variation says the ship broke its right rudder and floundered in 1960 while carrying supplies from Churchill to Rankin Inlet. While it is too dangerous to board the ship’s remains, you can get a little closer with a short hike during low tide.
Churchill Rocket Research Range
The Churchill Rocket Research Range was established in 1957 to launch sounding rockets carrying experimental payloads into the upper atmosphere. Chosen in part for its auroral activity levels , the Research Range was the base for scientific research into the upper atmosphere for almost 30 years.
Operated by various agencies over the years (including the Canadian Space Agency for a series of NASA launches), over 3,500 sounding rockets were launched from the range before it closed in 1985. Akjuit Aerospace temporarily reinvigorated the range from 1994 to 1998 and renamed it Space Port Canada. The site’s overall significance led to a National Historic Site of Canada designation.
Miss Piggy is a Curtiss C-46 freight plane owned by Lamb Air. On a 1979 flight, the plane developed engine trouble during its approach to the runway and managed to land among the rocks without a fatality.
Called “Miss Piggy” for her cargo capacity (and for once carrying a load of pigs), the downed plane can be reached by venturing down a scenic back road skirting the shore of Hudson Bay.
Parks Canada Visitor Reception Centre
The Parks Canada Visitor Reception Centre in the Churchill’s VIA Rail Station houses exhibits about the human and natural history of the area. Audio-visual presentations are also available on the wildlife and history of the Churchill area.
The centre displays a collection of Hudson’s Bay Company muskets and trade goods, including replicas from the 1700s and 1800s. Parks Canada staff are also happy to provide information on the area, including the Prince of Wales Fort, Cape Merry and York Factory National Historic Sites, and Wapusk National Park of Canada.
Wildlife management areas
The Cape Churchill Wildlife Management Area and Cape Tatnam Wildlife Management Area serve to protect significant tracts of Hudson Bay coastline south along Hudson Bay and east to the Ontario border.
The areas protect the fragile coastal and tundra ecosystems that provide habitat for polar bears, caribou and geese. The old military road to Twin Lakes provides access to boreal forest for wildlife viewing, bird watching and hiking.
The Boreal Gardens is a privately owned and operated experimental Arctic research project comprised of greenhouses and gardens growing various types of produce.
Tours are offered Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. during July and August, and other times by appointment.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the first prefabricated building in North America and a designated heritage site by the Province of Manitoba, is the oldest church in the North still in use. It originated as a kit of pre-fab components made in England, was assembled on the west bank of the Churchill River, then was moved in winter by sledge to the other side of the river followed by a final relocation to another street.
St. Paul’s also has ties to the exploration era – Lady Franklin donated a stained-glass window in memory of her husband Sir John Franklin, the famous Arctic explorer. It can still be seen today.