The day Peter and I landed it was 29% below freezing and the walk from the plane to the tiny airport building, wearing my short red boots, was alarming. Later that evening my eyelashes froze, as my eyes were the only things not covered in suitable clothing. However, The Seaport Hotel was warm and welcoming and the amount of food they served at every meal almost defeated Peter, and those who know him will be aware that’s no easy task.
We didn’t see polar bears and sometimes – after particularly gruesome tales – we were glad about that. Other times we wished with all our hearts for a glimpse. It seems we just missed the airlifting out of naughty bears that are kept in Bear prison for making continuous forays into the town. As the ice on the Bay unfroze again while we were there, these ex-con bears will probably ‘be back’.
Polar bears have this cuddly image but when you see a stuffed animal, reared up on its hind legs at over nine feet tall, it’s pretty scary.
The light in Churchill is amazing: I’m attaching one photo of an Inuit Inukshuk monument, in the bay. They are found all over Inuit lands as guides for travellers and placed there since before anyone can remember. Simple as they might look, they exuded something almost sacred, which took my breath away. I could have stayed there all day looking at this one.
Churchill is still something of a frontier town with a huge mix of people but we were made welcome in the Legion Club, the hotel, the library, the University of the North, The Northern Studies Centre and Gypsies café.
We met some great people and had a lovely time doing writing workshops at the University of the North. Hopefully this will be the start of a continuing connection between there and University of Manitoba.
If you ever go there, don’t miss a visit, or two, to the Inuit Museum it’s, an extraordinary and informative place.
The two day train journey back to Winnipeg was dreamlike and we liked to lie on the couchette looking out of the window at all times of the day or night. Sometimes we had to stop for hours to allow a freight train to pass, as there is only a single line most of the way. Snow everywhere but food, drink, showers and comfortable sleeping quarters kept us cosy. The on board staff were brilliant; nothing was too much trouble. When the train stopped at Thompson -a mining town – for three hours, we walked into the centre and saw a street sign which said: Take Care, Dancers Crossing, with a silhouette of a ballerina.