Thursday, August 8, 2013

Journey to the Edge: Churchill Townsite

For a remote community of 815 souls, Churchill has more than its share of cultural touchstones and places to eat and drink. After Parker gave us a brief orientation tour, we went to visit the Parks Canada building, which doubles as the train station.

We were too tired to make it through more than one video, even though they were pretty good as Parks Canada films go, but checked out some of the exhibits and artifacts they had on site. The full-scale mock-up of a polar bear den was first rate, as was the model of the Prince of Wales fort, which we hope to visit later in the week. Glory was impressed by the difference in size between her hand and a polar bear paw, while Fenya was intent on displaying the similarities between her bionically enhanced dentition and Canada's largest land predator.

We then made our way to the Eskimo Museum, which has the largest and most impressive collection of Inuit and northern carving and art in the country. I wasn't able to get a good picture of it, but the two tiny figurines made from the carver's own teeth were particularly impressive, if a little offputting. Narwhal tusks, stuffed animals (including a musk ox and a wolf), and Roald Amundsen's chair round out the collection.

If you find yourself looking for lunch in Churchill, most locals will point you to Gypsy's, a modest diner and Portuguese bakery that makes spectacular food. I had a marinated pork tenderloin sandwich served on a Portuguese bun called a Bifana that was absolutely fantastic, but their soups and salads looked really good as well.
In the evening, we ended up at Parker and Belinda's cabin down in 'The Flats', a little ways from the townsite and right next to the Churchill River where the old Cree village used to be. There is no running water, but no better place to end a day with your family and friends and a cold beer. (By the way, if you can get your hands on the lager made by The Farmery in Manitoba, I highly recommend it; brewed in an old fashioned manner by the farmers who grow the barley and hops themselves, it is nothing fancy, but an exceptionally smooth tasty lager, which is not even one of my favourite types.)
Parker has been renovating and building on to the cabin for some time now, and eventually wants to make it into a full fledged home for when he retires from Manitoba Hydro in a few years. He certainly couldn't have picked a better spot, and I am definitely beginning to see some of the appeal of living in such a far flung locale.

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