In Manitoba’s remote north, the tiny town of Churchill has long attracted travelers in search of wild spaces and even wilder animals. In summer, look out for the beluga whales that arrive in their thousands to the shores of Hudson Bay.
It’s in fall that the polar bear capital of the world really lives up to its name though; white bears from across northern Manitoba migrate to the area around Churchill and wait for the bay to freeze over. Why? So they can finally head out in search of their favorite food — seals. It’s possible to get up-close to the polar bears in specially designed tundra buggies.
On the edge of the Arctic, Churchill and the surrounding tundra serve as a major migration route for birds, including the rare Ross’ gull. Outside summer, Churchill is a popular place to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis; the best time to see the glittering Northern Lights is from January to March.
Despite its tiny population of 800, Churchill is well-geared for tourism, with plenty of Wi-Fi hotspots, restaurants and places to stay. The historic train station is home to a swanky information center with displays on the history of the fur trade, and just east of the Town Centre Complex is the Eskimo Museum, another popular visit. Here you can see and learn about the likes of animal-hide canoes and Inuit art.
A real frontier town, no roads lead to Churchill, so you’ll have to take the twice-weekly train or one of the regular charter planes from the state capital of Winnipeg to get here. The airport is 4.3 miles (7 km) from Churchill’s center, and a taxi to town costs about $20, though most hotels offer free shuttles.