warm hearts in Churchill, Manitoba

I remember the day that I heard on CBC radio that in Churchill, Manitoba, it was -51 Celsius (that’s about -60 Farenheit) with the windchill factored in. It reminded me of all the crazy times I’ve had in Churchill. I even found myself thinking … Hah! -51C is nothing! I’ve been dogsledding in Churchill when it was -66C! (I’ve never been so cold in all my life!) And the morning I was leaving that frozen land of wonders, it was -80C! One of the things to know about Churchill is that the weather can be severe.

 The interesting thing is that Churchill gets its warmth from the wonderful people who live and make their lives there. The Webber family is exemplary of that. Helen Webber was born in Churchill. Her grandfather was originally from Manitoba’s Interlake and moved to Churchill in the 1930’s to open a general store. Helen’s husband, Doug, (originally from Alberta) had come to Churchill with the armed forces. He met the love of his life and never left.

Helen Webber (on the right) and co-author Marie Woolsey have authored numerous cookbooks that feature foods of the north including the two books pictured below.


Together, the Webbers have raised a large family and expanded their business empire to include several wilderness lodges and a line of cookbooks. I first wrote about the Webbers back in 1998, after my first trip to Churchill. I’ve since been to Churchill six times thanks to the good folks at Travel Manitoba and have written many stories about it, but I think it’s time for a return visit!
things to know about Churchill: there are polar bears!

                                             Polar bears love the cold!

things to know about Churchill

  • Churchill is home to the most southerly population of polar bears on the planet. It truly is an awe-inspiring moment to see one (or more!) in the wild. I loved my polar bear adventure at the Polar Bear Lodge at Dymond Lake run by the Webber’s daughter, Jeanne Reimer and her husband, Mike. The Reimers are a dynamic couple who also run Seal River Lodge where you can have some amazing beluga encounters in the summer. Their company operates under the name of Churchill Wild and offers many amazing adventures up in Churchill.
  • Yes, Churchill does get summer. And even warm ones! On my first trip there (August/98,) it was actually over 30 degrees Celsius. Those travelling with me had not brought warm-weather clothing and were sweating in the heat. So let that be a lesson to you. Bring clothing to cover at least three seasons on any trip to Churchill. I was there once on July 1st for annual the Polar Bear Dip in Hudson Bay. It was 34 degrees Celsius when I’d left Winnipeg the day before. It was snowing the next day in Churchill! Thank goodness, the very hospitable Dawn Daudrich (co-owner of the Lazy Bear Lodge) gave me a parka to wear. Dawn is another transplanted Churchillian. She met her husband, Wally, at a bible camp in the US and followed him to Churchill to raise their family and build their business.
Originally from southern Manitoba, Wally Daudrich used to be a tour guide in Churchill and gave me my first introduction to the tundra. He is now a successful entrepreneur and the proud owner of the solid wood lodge that he dutifully built log by log (amazing feat for a place with no trees to speak of.) Find Wally and Dawn at the Lazy Bear Lodge. Do drop in on them if you make it up to Churchill. The hospitality you’ll experience and the adventures you’ll have make it well worth the trip.


My closing thought brings me full circle to my dogsledding trip in Churchill, when even with five layers of clothing, I was colder than one could imagine. Gratefully, our dogsled master (I’m quite certain his name was Robert MacDonald) gave me his caribou hide gloves to wear to keep my hands warm. And the friendships I have made in Churchill have continued to bring warmth to my heart.
Please see this post for more about my adventures in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

10 Responses

  1. Rosemary says:

    Oh my goodness is that cold! I would love to see the polar bears but would sure have to winterize myself.

  2. Blogr says:

    Thank you for this post, Doreen.

    I learned few new things about Churchill that I’ve never heard of.

  3. I love polar bears but my problem is that I am a self-confessed winter wimp! I don’t think I could stand the cold to be there in polar bear weather. Visiting Churchill in the summer months sounds more like my style!

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Debbie and welcome to my site!

      I’m with you, my friend. I,too, am a winter wimp. But I braved the cold in Churchill to see the aurora borealis and the polar bears. Definitely worth it.

  4. It was wonderful to hear your dogsledding story, Doreen. Thank you so much for sharing the rest of this story. I’ve never been to Churchill, but I am sure I would find it as warm and lovely as you did–even if I went in the winter!

    • Thanks so much, Christine. I find it interesting how different world moments (like it being Int’l Polar Bear Day yesterday) bring forward past memories on various highlights in our travel experiences and in our lives. I spent a very large amount of my travel time and efforts devoted to Churchill back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, but haven’t been there lately. I enjoy when something tweaks a memory and brings it to the forefront. And yes, I’m sure that you and Jim would enjoy a visit to Churchill. But I’d recommend going in Summer, when you can visit the fort, see the beluga whales and head out on the tundra to see caribou, Arctic hare and fox, and mosquitoes the size of smart cars! 🙂

  5. Beverly says:

    After reading your post about Churchill, I am inspired to go there.

    • Awesome, Bev! That’s what we travel writers always hope will happen. That we will inspire our readers to visit the places we are writing about.

      It’s very fascinating to know that when I was visiting Churchill (6x between 1998 and the early 2000’s), I encountered many Americans, Germans, Brits, and a few Australians and Japanese. But very few visitors from our own province of Manitoba. I’m not sure how much that has changed over the past 15 years. I will try and find out.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…five things you should know about TequilaMy Profile

  6. February 27th is International Polar Bear Day! I’m resurrecting this post, written long ago, and imported from a previous incarnation of my blog, to help share the word about Churchill, Manitoba, and its amazing wildlife opportunities–including getting nose to nose with a polar bear!

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