Churchill Northern Studies Centre and polar bears

By Jim Delmonte
This item appears on page 40 of the February 2019 issue.

I read with interest the subscriber's article about Churchill, Canada, and the polar bears that she and her husband were able to see there (Nov. '18, pg. 42).

Through a tour operator, the couple stayed outside Churchill at the Tundra Lodge, which, she wrote, "sits 5 feet off the ground, with viewing platforms between cars and access to the Polar Rovers through a back deck. (We were told our feet wouldn't touch the ground outside for the next four days.)"

Their 7-day package deal, which included a day in Winnipeg, cost $17,996 for two, excluding airfare.

My wife and I considered going to the Tundra Lodge but decided it wasn't for us. There, you're in containers and can't get out to walk around and see nature. True, bears come up to the structure and are nearby, but I think, after a few days, that could get boring.

Instead, we have stayed at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (Division No. 23, Unorganized, MB, Canada; 204/675-2307,, most recently in October 2017 along with our two grandkids.

They offer 8-day, 7-night package deals there for, currently, CAD3,485 (near $2,553) per person, up to 36 participants. This price includes accommodations, meals, transportation, dogsled rides, helicopter rides, trips to town and more.

Each room holds four, and it was nice to have our own private space. Our room was on the second floor, though some rooms (bear-proof) are on the first.

From coaches that were made available to our group and from helicopters, we saw bears sleeping along the road, crossing the road or playing. On excursions, professionals from the facility would sometimes drive us right up next to a bear, but most of the time the bears would shy away and leave.

Whenever we were outside, there were up to five or six people in the area with guns; we felt safe. Inside the facility, a staff member was always at the front door, preventing anyone from going outside.

The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an independent, nonprofit research station. I've been there many times, and it always sells out.

Honolulu, HI