Spaceships and Sled-Dogs


Ahh, Gypsy’s Bakery. Three weeks ago I’d picked up a brochure in Thompson, stating that this magical culinary outpost, lovechild of a Portugese man and an Azorean woman who for some unknown reason wound up here on the sunny banks of Hudson Bay, was the last stop on Manitoba’s Cinnamon Bun Trail (as sought after as the Northwest Passage!). It was right.

Reid is in heaven.

…and so am I. And not just because we haven’t eaten in 15 hours (though that definitely doesn’t hurt their reputation here!)

Well-energized for the second half of our tour, we boarded Mr. Inglebritzen’s bus once again. He drove us south, back to the tree line, to some of Churchill’s off-season attractions.

After gunning through some impressive snowbanks, we arrived at the Miss Piggy, a plane that crashed here almost 40 years ago. Fortunately there were no casualties (from the crash, nor from our crawling around inside the completely unbarricaded wreckage).

Next was the polar bear jail. Though currently empty, this is where overly aggressive polar bears are kept during migration season, until they can be released out onto the bay to join their families. Of course, our friendly guide doesn’t believe in aggressive polar bears. He only believes in stupid people wandering alone in the dead of night carrying meat in their backpacks. Still gotta research this tidbit.
A bear trap. Not a smart place to stand for too long.

Polar bear tracks. We were assured that they were old, due to how wind-swept they are, but we jumped back on the bus pretty fast after this.

A brief viewing of the old rocket tower, where Canada shot unmanned satellites into space in the ’70s to research the Northern Lights.

As we approached the end of Churchill’s enclosed network of roads, we came across a beautiful husky. Then another. Then another. These are the Dog Fields, where purebred Inuit sled dogs are being re-bred after being nearly becoming extinct during the worst of Canada’s assimilation attempts. The males are on long chains, and the females are left free to wander around and mate with whomever they choose (I suppose females are better judges of pedigree). Fortunately they had just been fed massive bricks of caribou meat, so they were in very good moods.
As I took this picture (no zoom), I was grateful for the bus door separating me from this potentially vicious wild animal. Of course, Mr. Inglebritzen decided that was a good time to swing the door open, leaving me no choice but to face my fear…
…which turned out to be ridiculously friendly, and luxuriously soft to pet.
We howled at each other for a bit, and then she ran back for some more caribou.

En route back to Churchill, I pondered what it must be like to be the last tree.

Having finished our tour of the Greater Churchill Area, we hit the main drag on foot. What really struck me was that, although Churchill is the pride and joy of Manitoban tourism, it clearly identifies more with Nunavut. Many of the signs are in Inuktitut (which, sadly, is only distantly related to Cree), they sell Nunavut postcards (which kind of seemed like cheating, but I bought one anyway), and the following clipping from the Nunavut News was posted in the museum:
Gotta love the North. And don’t forget the Nunavut Health Board’s food guide, reminding you to get your protein from sources such as beluga and seals, among others.

Just off the main drag is the community centre which, for the purpose of keeping people from having to go outside on a -60 day, combines the rec centre, hospital, and school all under one roof. Sara and I could actually work in the same building one day!
(Fun fact, during October, the admin carry rifles at recess to ward off polar bears. My career aspirations were heightened upon hearing this.)

The Arctic Trading Company is filled with incredible hand-made art and tools…and husky puppies (Noah, this was for you).
And Mr. Donnelly, I thought as a former box factory employee you might appreciate this. Could be a business merger in the works?

A blissfully exhausted supper at, you guessed it, Gypsy’s Bakery.

A huge thank-you to Julie for sharing your ‘bail-out guy’, Mr. Inglebritzen for the incredible tour, Hélène for driving us to and from the train station at the most ridiculous hours, and all my Gillam friends for sharing this unforgettable day!

Good night, Churchill!
(approximately 3:15 pm 🙂 )


3 responses »

  1. What an incredible collection of thoughts and pictures! I love your ponderings on the last tree. I would also like a copy of Churchill’s Food Guide – our ‘southern’ version just can’t compare! 😛 And, finally, I just had an uncontrollable outbreak of lobo face — Husky puppy?!?! oh my lanta!!! xoxo


  2. hi josh its noah i dont like grammar at all

    the puppy is very very very very very cute and he has a black face which is adorable plz bring him home for me


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