Saturday, November 8, 2008

Arrival in Churchill

Wow! Up at 4AM. That is worse than birdwatching in May! Our early flight out of Winnipeg aboard the winter conditions outfitted ATR 42, one of the workhorses of the northern fleet, was early but way smoother than we all had anticipated considering the conditions on the two previous day.

Once up over the low cloud ceiling, the sun which we had not seen for two days, greeted us with a poetic start to the day. Two and a half hours later, we were on the ground, enjoying our first introduction to Churchill, "Polar Bear Capital of the the World."

We made a brief stop at the Polar Bear "Jail" where town roaming bears are taken until the ice forms, then to the famed Gypsy"s Diner for our first of many home cooked meals. We spent some time driving around town for an orientation kind of tour, checked into the hotel, did a little shopping, and then ventured over to the Eskimo Museum.

This small but inspirational museum talks superbly about the life of peoples in the north, how they manage with the harsh conditions, their relationship with Nanook (their name for the Polar Bear), and exhibits the best of Inuit art in its superb collection of carved soapstone and walrus ivory.

Pat Rouseau is a wealth of knowledge having lived many years along the eastern shores of Baffin Island. No bears today but none were expected or hoped for in town. Tomorrow we head south along Hudson Bay to Cape Churchill where we have heard that many bears are now congregating.

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