Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Borealis binge

Jaunt to Churchill for northern lights simply spectacular

  • Print

Something unexpected has happened to me -- it's called Churchill.

I write a blog for Travel Manitoba called Unexpected Manitoba. Two weeks ago, I was at a meeting with Travel Manitoba's vice-president of advertising and communications, Linda Whitfield. Linda casually inquired if I could clear my calendar to participate in a Northern Lights & Winter Nights media trip to Churchill.

I still wonder if it would have been more dignified to wait a millisecond before shouting -- YES!

The media trip was a joint effort staged and presented by Frontiers North Adventures, Travel Manitoba and Destination Winnipeg to promote a relatively new tourism product that focuses on Churchill's northern lights.

Selected journalists, photographers and reporters, along with a few tourists from around the world, were invited to travel to Churchill and live the experience. Then, if all went well, these illustrious photojournalists would submit fabulous stories and astounding photographs to their newspapers and magazines -- and yes, even to the Unexpected Manitoba blog site.

Our hosts for the six-day excursion had us rally in Winnipeg for our initial icebreaker (there's bound to be plenty of bad jokes about snow and ice in this story, so I'll apologize only this once). Our out-of-town guests were staying at the Inn at The Forks, so cocktails at the hotel lounge, The Current, made sense.

Over the next few hours I met my travelling companions, 13 in total.

By the end of that first night, I was floating around up in the stratosphere. (Which would be a definite advantage during the aurora borealis-gazing part of the program.) I couldn't wait to leave in the morning.

There's no road leading to Churchill, which sits resolutely on the shores of Hudson Bay, 1,050 kilometres north of Winnipeg -- but there are flights leaving daily that take about two hours flying time. Alternatively, the Via Rail train, affectionately called the Muskeg Special, leaves from Winnipeg and takes 48 hours to get there (give or take). Your choice. We were travelling by plane.

Even though it's still serious winter up there, this trip was definitely an Unexpected Manitoba event. My new friends and I travelled well together. That's no small feat when you're talking about 13 diverse personalities, cultures, accents, talents and so on. If anyone had an ego, they checked it at the door. Everyone felt welcome and included, and all were vital components in the adventure.

Over the next five days and nights, we played hard. At the end of the day, just when I was looking forward to my bed, I was gearing up and heading out onto the frozen Churchill River to look for the elusive northern lights. I'm proud to say I stayed awake until 3:00 a.m., three nights in a row. Sure, it just about killed me, but I did it. And I have the photos to prove it.

I'm planning to share the highlights with you and I'll be posting my adventures on the Travel Manitoba blog site. Together we can watch the aurora borealis tumbling in the night sky while lying on our backs on the frozen Churchill River. We'll cheer on the mushers competing in the Hudson Bay Quest, a 400-kilometre dogsled race, and we'll try our luck at mushing a team ourselves. There'll be snowshoeing across the tundra while watching each other's backs for polar bears -- and we'll eat muktuk.

However, like muktuk, these stories are best served in small, tempting, bite-size pieces -- otherwise they're hard to swallow. To get started, and to find out about muktuk, tap into Travel Manitoba's blog:



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2010 D12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up:- Shoulder Press

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A one day old piglet glances up from his morning feeding at Cedar Lane Farm near Altona.    Standup photo Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Do you plan to watch Saturday's boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google