About Churchill

Churchill has a lot to offer visitors to this remote but accessible northern destination. It’s known as the polar bear capital of the world and a beluga whale watching hot spot. Arctic wildlife that has adapted to the climate is always present.

The area is steeped with rich history dating back to the 1600s. The Prince of Wales stone fortress and the York Factory trading post are must visits for the history buff.

The northern lights (aurora borealis) are a wonder to see in January to March. Churchill is listed as one of the top three places in the world to view them.

The port of Churchill was established in 1931 and is Canada’s only arctic port. It was created primarily to ship western Canadian grain to the world and import industrial goods to the northern hemisphere.

Take a flight with us and see all of what Churchill has to offer from the comfort of one of our helicopters. We’ll customize your flight to take in all the sights you’d like to see.

A Brief History

Churchill has a long and interesting history. An ill-fated Danish expedition led by Jules Munk first wintered where Churchill now stands in 1619. Only three of 64 expedition members survived the harsh winter climate and made it back to Denmark alive.

In 1717, the Hudson’s Bay Company established the first permanent settlement, the Churchill River Post. The log fort was located a few miles upstream from the mouth of the Churchill River. The fort was built mainly to capitalize on fur trade with the Chipewyan natives living north of the boreal forest.

During the Ango-French dispute over control of North America the original fort was replaced with a stone fort on the western peninsula at the mouth of the river. In 1782, the fort fell to the French who made an unsuccessful attempt to demolish it.

It returned to English rule in 1783 and a new fort was built a short distance up the river. Because of the distance away from competition from The North West Company, the fort proved profitable for many years.

In the 1800s, the Selkirk Settlers arrived and rowed upstream for 50 days to reach the area of Manitoba now known as Selkirk and Winnipeg. The Lower and Upper Fort Garry forts were established and became one of the main bases of operation for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The gates of Upper Fort Garry still stand in Winnipeg and the entire Lower Fort Garry Fort has been preserved just south of Selkirk.

When the fur trade declined and the success of western agriculture started to rise, Churchill phased in and out of obsolescence until 1929 when a rail line was established and it was designated as a northern shipping harbor.

In 1942, the US and Canadian Air Forces established an air base for experimental flight and cold weather training purposes which operated until the mid-1960s. The site was also a rocket research facility from the 1950s until closing in 1984.

Today, Churchill flourishes as a port and as an eco-tourism center based on one of the largest, accessible polar bear populations in the world.