Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to Churchill?

There are no roads into Churchill, so your options are limited to taking the train, or flying from Winnipeg. You could also drive to Thompson and hop on the train, or plane from there.To learn more about transportation options, visit our How to Get There page.

By Train
VIA Rail – 1-888-842-7245 (North America)
www.viarail.ca

Call VIA Rail for current departure and arrival schedules.

By Plane (Winnipeg to Churchill)
Calm Air – 1-800-839-2256/1-888-225-6247
www.calmair.com
Kivalliq Air – 1-877-855-1500
www.kivalliqair.com

Local air charters while in Churchill:
Dymond Lake Air – 1-888-932-2377
Hudson Bay Helicopters – 1-204-675-2576
www.hudsonbayheli.com

What is the average temperature in Churchill?

Find Churchill’s current weather conditions and forecasts at: www.weatheroffice.gc.ca. From the map of Canada, choose the province of Manitoba and town of Churchill for local conditions. Below are the average temperatures (Celsius) by month:

  • January -26.7
  • February -24.6
  • March -19.5
  • April -9.7
  • May -0.7
  • June 6.6
  • July 12
  • August 11.7
  • September 5.6
  • October -1.7
  • November -12.6
  • December -22.8

What should I wear/what kind of clothes should I bring for my trip to Churchill?

The clothes you should wear and bring will depend on the time of year that you decide to visit.

Fall (October-November)
– During peak polar bear season, be prepared for snow and cold conditions. Several layers of clothing, including an insulated parka or waterproof jacket, insulated boots, thick mitts or gloves, toque (woolen hat), and long underwear are recommended.

Winter (February-March)
– Add a balaclava, quality snow boots that are good to a temperature of -45° C (-25° F), snow/ski pants, and sunglasses to your fall weather gear.

Summer (June-September)
– A variety of clothing is required as temperatures can soar to above 25° C (85 F) and drop to 6° C (42 F). A good quality waterproof jacket, hat, sunglasses, hiking boots, shorts, pants, sunscreen, and bug repellent are recommended.

For a more comprehensive list of what to pack for each season, see our What To Pack page.

Should I change my currency to Canadian dollars before heading to Churchill, or should I wait until I get there?

To ensure the prevailing rate of exchange, visitors are advised to exchange their funds at any Canadian financial institution, bank, trust company, credit union, caisse populaire, or exchange booths at border entry points. Although U.S. money is readily accepted in Manitoba, using Canadian money is recommended.

Can I see polar bears, beluga whales, birds and the northern lights all in one trip?

Churchill has distinct seasons. For example bear season generally runs July to November of each year while whale season tends to take place late June to August. While it is possible to see bears, belugas, birds and northern lights all in one trip one should not count on it.

How many polar bears are there in the area?

A new mark-recapture study undertaken by Canadian Wildlife Service indicates that there are between 900 and 1000 polar bears in the western Hudson Bay population.

How many beluga whales are there in the Churchill River Estuary?

It is estimated that there are approximately 60,000 beluga whales.

How many species of birds are found in Churchill?

Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the Churchill region.

When is the best time to see the aurora borealis (northern lights)?

The aurora borealis are most noticeable on clear nights from January to March and from late August to early September.

Why are the trees crooked/one-sided in Churchill?

Strong northwesterly winds hit the trees, preventing growth on one side. This is known as the Krumholz effect (meaning crooked wood).

Was Churchill named after Winston Churchill?

No, the town is named after John Churchill, the 3rd governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Duke of Marlborough. Interestingly, Winston Churchill was a direct descendent of John Churchill.

What is the Navy Base?

This was an active listening base during the Cold War and was considered a landlocked ship in the way it was operated. It was decommissioned in 1969 – however, the building still stands.

What was Fort Churchill?

Fort Churchill was the largest ever joint Canadian/US Military base where cold weather testing of weapons, equipment and fighting tactics took place. The Fort closed in 1979.

When was the last rocket fired at the rocket range?

The last rocket to be fired from the rocket range was in 1998.

What is being done to ensure sustainability of the area and the polar bears?

Companies offering polar bear experiences adhere to strict guidelines through Manitoba Conservation, for example, limiting the number of tundra vehicles operating in and around Churchill. The number of commercial tour operators and the number of vehicles permitted on the high-use areas east of the town site continues to be restricted. Measures are also taken to restrict travel to existing trails and designate some areas as off-limits.

For additional information, visit the Manitoba Conservation website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildlife/managing/polar_bears/index.html

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