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Polar Bear Express : Churchill Tundra Buggy vacation a real eyeopener


Version française de ce texte.

It soon will be a year ago that I headed up to Churchill for the first time. I was then participating in the Churchill Northern Studies Center’s Lord of the Arctic: Hudson’s Bay Polar Bears learning vacation course. I sure wish I could go back again this fall. During our stay, every evening, I posted on this blog a summary of our adventures along with a few photos. But, one thing I just realized that I never shared on the blog was the article published in the Winnipeg Free Press by freelance journalist, Martin Zeilig, also a participant in our week long adventure. At last! Here is the link to Martin’s article entitled Polar bear express Churchill Tundra Buggy vacation a real eyeopener:

I thought it could be interesting to take the opportunity to add a few photos and facts to complement Martin’s article:

    Silver, the CNSC’s bear guard, passed away on January 13, 2011. Silver was 14 years old and as far as anyone could tell, he died of old age. He had been serving for the past few years as a guard for the construction crews working on the new CNSC building (which opened in summer 2011).

    Silver, notre garde de securite / Silver, our security guard

    In August, I had the opporutnity to go back to the Churchill Northern Studies Center for a two week stay. During a tour of the site, we walked around the old building where we stayed last fall. One of the question that was on my mind was to find out how the polar bears were able to climb on the roof of the building. Rupert Pilkington had the answer and here’s a photo to help understand.

    Back of the old CNSC building where the polar bears used to climb on the roof. / L'arrière de l'ancien édifice du CNSC par où les ours polaires grimpaient sur le toît.

    So, the bears started by climbing on a truck that used to be parked right by the red door. They would then simply have to continue climbing from one level to the next.

    The back of the old CNSC building where a polar bear came peeking through the window. / L'arrière de l'ancien édifice du CNSC où un ours polaire est venu regarder par la fenêtre.

    The left-most window that you see on this photo is the window of the room I was in when at 12h10 the morning of November 2, 2010, a polar bear came peeking through the window. I was sleeping in the top bunk when I heard a weird nose from the outside. I just lifted and turned my head and looked out the window. Surprise! I came face to face with a polar bear standing on its back legs and his front paws shaking the metal bars of the window. His nose was less than a meter from mine!! I just screamed “Polar Bear” and Leonora, one of my roomates, woke up and ran to inform the staff member on duty. It didn’t take long that the truck and Silver were out chasing the bear. It was a female with two cubs, most likely the same ones that had climbed on the roof the night before and had pinned Silver to the ground. What a thrill!!

    Here are a few photos of the tundra buggies Martin is referring to along with a portrait of our driver, Bob:

    Tundra Buggy

    Can you see the polar bear? / Voyez-vous l'ours polaire?

    Bob our buggy driver / Bob, notre chauffeur

To view some of the polar bear photos I took during our two outings in the tundra buggies, just click on the following links :
Lord of the Arctic 2010 – Day 2
Lord of the Arctic 2010 – Day 6

Till next time!

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