Not only is RAW:churchill the most exclusive dining event in the country, it’s one of those authentic journeys that gives travellers huge insight into the Canadian identity. Trust us, you’ll feel more Canadian after the transformative experience of RAW:churchill.
By now you’ve likely heard of RAW:almond, a widely lauded winter pop-up restaurant on the frozen river in downtown Winnipeg. RAW:almond's creators expanded their pop-up restaurant project to northern Manitoba and partnered with seasoned tour operators Frontiers North Adventures and a Parks Canada’s Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site for a bucket-list-worthy culinary escape. Allow us to theorize why RAW:churchill is the most Canadian thing you will ever do:
Canada is a proud northern nation. The North is such an integral part of our heritage, yet the majority of travellers to Canada only explore within a few degrees of the 49° north parallel (which hugs the US border). RAW:churchill brings you North, specifically to 58° parallel along the western shore of the Hudson Bay, to a town so remote that no roads lead there. One must travel nearly 1,000 km by plane to get to Churchill, a town famous for a polar bear population that outnumbers its residents. The feeling of isolation is palpable in Churchill, and we guarantee that you will have an epiphany about how isolation shapes the Canadian spirit.
Heading north during summer is one thing, but heading north during winter is the stuff of which true (or wannabe) Canadians are made. RAW:churchill happens in March, when daytime temperatures average -20°C. There is a mystical quality about the North in winter, and you’ll stand in awe of the strength of Old Man Winter and the determination of hardy residents who live in Churchill. Thankfully, the RAW:churchill dining structure is nestled within the Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site, protected from weather (and wildlife!) by 21-feet-tall and 11-metre-thick stone walls. But to access the fort in winter is the first challenge: guests at RAW:churchill arrive to dinner aboard a Tundra Buggy, a customized vehicle adept at traversing the tundra’s rough terrain. Read how organizers battled the elements during their 2016 RAW:churchill trial run.
RAW:churchill allows you to dine within the 300-year-old stone fort that played a key role in the fur trade and in developing Western Canada, on the same ground as some of history’s most intrepid explorers. Situated on a spit of land named Eskimo Point where the mouth of the Churchill River opens onto Hudson Bay, Prince of Wales Fort was built over the course of 40 years by the Hudson Bay Company as a way to control the harvesting and shipment of fur (most preferred was the beaver pelt) over to Europe for a booming fashion trend. Yes, simply put, Canada was built upon a fashion trend. At RAW:churchill, guests learn all about the fascinating fort and area history from a special guest: Samuel Hearne incarnate. Parks Canada brings to the life the fort’s infamous Governor with an entertaining table-side conversation.
Fur trader diet
History? Check. Adventure? Check. But don’t get us wrong, at it’s core RAW:churchill is a culinary event. The evening is undeniably about the surprise, multi-course dinner prepared by Manitoba award-winning chef Mandel Hitzer, the culinary creative behind RAW:almond and Winnipeg’s Exchange District hipster hangout Deer + Almond. Chef Mandel prepares a menu that’s inspired by the diet of the fort’s inhabitants – this means the kitchen tries to focus on ingredients that are native to the area. Sounds like an incredible challenge considering Canada’s North is not known for it’s growing season, but even the most sophisticated foodies are wowed by the menu. Think bison carpaccio, seaweed noodles with cured rainbow trout roe, beet ice cream with wild blueberries. Read more about the food experience in this Canadian Geographic blog post.
Mother Nature’s light show
RAW:churchill pop-up restaurant is a long A-frame-shaped structure designed by local architect Joe Kalturnyk, and its unique transparent roof allows diners an even more magical experience should the northern lights decide to make an appearance. Churchill, ideally located under the aurora oval, boasts Aurora Borealis activity over 300 days per year, the most active nights being during January to March when winter skies are the clearest. No guarantees that the magical green ribbons will unfurl across the sky on the night you attend RAW:churchill, but if they do, be prepared for an experience that transcends the universe. Canada is fortunate to be one of the few northern nations in the world where travellers can experience this natural phenomenon.
RAW:churchill runs from March 2-10, 2018. Find out more about the experience and purchase tickets at www.raw-churchill.com