Seniors to Return to Churchill This Summer


By Ben Woods

Its name is etched onto Zippos and sewn onto patches, spoken with pride and heard with envy. The Polar Bear Capital of the World. The Shangri-La of Manito-Ba.

After three years exploring new canoe routes, the Seniors will return this summer to the Hudson Bay hamlet of Churchill.

Starting on Southern Indian Lake, three trips led by three seasoned trip heads will strike north toward the tundra. At Shethanei Lake, one will veer east on the swift-flowing Seal and two will ascend the Wolverine and loop north toward the mighty Caribou.

Both trips will end on the brackish tidal flats of Hudson Bay, some three weeks and 400 miles later. From there, they will be ferried south to Churchill for some sightseeing before the long journey home.

With no roads linking Churchill to the rest of Canada, the Arctic seaport was off limits to Kooch-i-ching trippers in recent years as repairs were made to the rail line, which was damaged by flooding in 2017.

Those who have paddled the Seal, the Caribou or the North Knife know the joy of boarding the train in Churchill, stretching out in a passenger car, and sharing stories. Stories of wrathful headwinds and surf-able tailwinds, of awesome polar bear sightings and apocalyptic black fly swarms. Stories of tender trout fillets, super-sized calzones and chili cook-offs. Stories that form a chapter of Kooch-i-ching lore, a chapter named for a tiny town in northern Manitoba.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of the Kooch-i-ching Tumpline.

KoochBen Woods