Hi!, I’m Alex Berg and I am the Program Coordinator at the Churchill Northern Study Centre (CNSC). Even more importantly, I’m a lifelong Churchillian.
Like everyone else, CNSC has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and all that comes with it. While I can’t wait to welcome people to experience our amazing programs, unfortunately, to maintain everyone’s safety, CNSC summer programming has been cancelled during the current public health restrictions.
You may be wondering “Why Churchill and when is a good time to visit?”
Churchill Manitoba is the Polar Bear Capital of the World and a great place to visit during all times throughout the year. While most of the attention goes to Polar Bear season (October-November), my favourite time of year is our Beluga Whale season (July-August) or the hidden gem of Aurora Season (February – March).
Growing up in Churchill has blessed me with so many experiences. It is located on the Hudson Bay. Polar bear season is October – November. This is when the weather turns to winter and the bay starts to freeze. The north wind pushes the formed ice close to shore – this gives the bears an early opportunity to get out of the ice sooner. The polar bears get out of the ice to feed on seals. They spend their summers waiting for that moment to start hunting again. As a child, you learn in school the safety of living with polar bears. Your Halloween is a little bit different than any others as it is during the prime polar bear season. Conservation, Ambulance, Police trucks, Locals, Fire department all patrolling the town and area to ensure the safety of the community as they wander to collect candy. Walking to school during this time – you had to check social media to see if any bear sightings happened that morning. It was never unusual to see conversation up early mornings scouting the town before anyone left their house as well as late evenings. The biggest part of living with polar bears is being introduced to a new tourism world. Growing up my parents owned a Bed and Breakfast. We constantly had visitors in our home and community. Inviting guests in your home and sharing your community with someone who so eager to soak up everything was a new learning experience.
Summers in Churchill are my favourite. There is nothing like a Churchill sunset. I never realized how amazing they are until you see one outside of home. Due to the extended hours of sun, we would be outside all day. We would be playing in ditches, riding our bikes, and bouncing from park to park. We would go swimming in the Bay – or the creeks along the way. Once I got older it was the experience of interacting with beluga whales. They are extremely curious animals. Myself, I have a fear of open water so you could imagine the difficulties interacting with these creatures. I managed to get out paddle boarding with a local tour company. It was surreal – your surroundings slowly fade away as you are approached (and possibly nudged) by these curious beings. Being able to stand and see how many truly surrounded my board was crazy. The beluga whales head to the Churchill River to enjoy the warmer waters and avoid pray while their calf grow up and learn.
Northern lights is the hidden gem of Churchill Manitoba. Over 300 nights you there are aurora present! However, February, March is the ideal time to view them as during the cold winter months we are more likely to have clear skies. Therefore, polar bear season is not ideal to view them, as we expect lots of snow/fog as the bay starts to freeze. It also requires darkness, so with the long summer days it makes the aurora almost impossible to see. With the ideal darkness, clear skies and aurora make for a perfect trip!
CNSC is very excited to host guests and share our home soon!