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Lords of the North: Ecology of Hudson Bay's Polar Bears

Program Number: 6290RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/13/2013 - 10/20/2013; 10/15/2015 - 10/22/2015; 10/20/2015 - 10/27/2015; 10/25/2015 - 11/1/2015;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Price starting at: $3,975.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Science & Nature; Natural History
Meals: 19; 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

As autumn fades, the polar bears of Hudson Bay gather to await the sea ice that signals winter’s return. Alongside a leading authority on this precious population, journey onto the tundra aboard specially fitted vehicles to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Lectures, field trips and museum visits will help you understand not only the life of the polar bear, but also the challenges of global climate change, local conservation issues and the future of the arctic ecosystem.


• Take part in a dog sled adventure and observe caribou, Arctic fox, snowy owl and other Arctic species.
• Examine research and conservation efforts conducted by the new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.
• Go behind the scenes at the Manitoba Museum to view pieces from the Inuit collection and discover the history of the at the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles on frozen terrain.

Date Specific Information

10-13-2013, 10-15-2015, 10-20-2015, 10-25-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Independent arrival Winnipeg, 2 nights; flight to Churchill, 5 nights; flight to Winnipeg, independent departure.


Established on the site of an aboriginal trading center on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, the capital of Manitoba is an international hub for finance, manufacturing, culture and tourism. Arts-minded residents and visitors can patronize the provincial theater, opera and ballet, and the city hosts annual festivals of music and the arts.


The Polar Bear Capital occupies a peninsula where the Churchill River meets the Hudson Bay at the juncture of the boreal forest and Arctic tundra. Once traversed by a variety of nomadic tribes, the region also hosted an 18th-century fur-trading post and today attracts wildlife enthusiasts to view beluga whales and more than 200 species of birds.

Winnipeg: Downtown hotel. Churchill: Research facility in the heart of polar bear country.
Meals and Lodgings
   Humphry Inn & Suites
  Winnipeg, MB 2 nights
   Churchill Northern Studies Centre
  Churchill, MB 5 nights
 Humphry Inn & Suites
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: This full-service hotel is located in downtown Winnipeg near Centennial Concert Hall, The Forks, MTS Centre and the Winnipeg Convention Center. With exemplary service, thoughtful amenities and a prime location, Humphry Inn & Suites has you covered for superior hotel accommodations in Winnipeg.
  Contact info: 260 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB R3C 1A9 Canada
phone: 877-486-7479
  Room amenities: Workspace with desk, office chair and phone and high-speed Internet access. Coffeemakers with complimentary coffee and tea, hairdryer, iron and ironing board and cable TV. Microwaves and refrigerators in every room.
  Facility amenities: Heated indoor salt water pool, large whirlpool spa and steam room, fitness center, gift shop & convenience store. Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access and complimentary newspaper. The facility offers a 24-hour business center with computer, printer, copy and fax services; a 24-hour lobby coffee bar and 24-hour laundry facility.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Contact hotel for rates Contact hotel directly for current rates and availability.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Type: Field Station
  Description: Founded in 1976, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an independent, non-profit research and education facility located 23 km east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba. The Centre provides accommodations, meals, equipment rentals, and logistical support to scientific researchers working on a diverse range of topics of interest to northern science. In addition to research, the Centre facilitates a wide range of educational programming ranging from general interest courses for the visiting public to university credit courses for students. The Centre is ideally situated along the Hudson Bay seacoast at the meeting of three major biomes: marine, northern boreal forest, and tundra. To the east lies Wapusk National Park which protects the inland denning area of the polar bear. Farther to the southeast lies the Hudson Bay Lowland, the largest peatland in North America. Because of this complex of biomes, one can see a tremendous diversity of plants, birds, mammals and human cultures. Active biological research station. Polar bear resistant facility with window bars and security lighting.
  Contact info: 1 Launch Road
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0 Canada
phone: 204-675-2307
  Room amenities: Each room accommodates up to four guests in two bunk beds (upper and lower). Guests with mobility concerns may request a lower bunk. There is individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves and individual reading lamps. The dorm is often filled to capacity during the summer research season and the fall polar bear season. Rooms are gender specific, although husbands and wives can sometimes be accommodated in one room during slow periods.
  Facility amenities: The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an active research facility in the heart of polar bear country. Bunk-bed dormitories with two to four guests per room, shared washrooms (separated by gender) with private showers. High-speed internet, fitness room, gift shop and library. Clean, modern facilities in a new state-of-the-art green building. Scenic views from all rooms. Second floor outdoor deck for safely watching wildlife and northern lights. Enjoy hearty, home-cooked meals with guests and visiting scientists in the on-site cafeteria. SPECIAL MEALS NOTE: Gluten free and most other special dietary requests can be accommodated at the CNSC with advance notice.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Separate female and male washrooms are equipped with toilets, sinks, and private showers.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Independent arrival and transfers to the program hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dinner is at 6:00 pm. Check-in after 3:00 p.m. You will be staying at Humphry Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at the airport in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Approximate arrival at airport is 2:00 pm. Independent departures from Winnipeg, MB. You will be staying at Churchill Northern Studies Centre the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. A valid passport is required for all air travel to/from the US (by land, sea or air). Visit for up to date information. A signed waiver is required from participants.
  Parking availability:
Long term parking at the airport. Contact the hotel regarding parking at the hotel or nearby.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Winnipeg, MB
  Nearest city or town:  Winnipeg
  Nearest highway: Trans Canada Highway
  Nearest airport:  Winnipeg International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location:  Churchill, MB
  Nearest city or town:  Churchill
  Nearest highway: Only accessible by air or rail travel.
  Nearest airport:  Churchill
Travel Details



From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $25 - $30 CDN (per taxi)
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




5 miles




From Train Station






Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $5 - $7 CDN (per taxi)
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


5 minutes 




1 mile




To Airport




Public Transportation
Flight from Churchill to Winnipeg airport


Per Person/One Way:


Drop off is at Winnipeg airport
Prices are subject to change.


Participants will fly back to Winnipeg International Airport, approximate arrival at airport is 2:00 p.m. Departures from Winnipeg airport.

Driving Directions
  Trans-Canada Hwy (Winnipeg) From the Trans-Canada Hwy (Hwy 1) - head east on Portage Ave/Trans-Canada Hwy/Rte 85 E toward Riverbend Crescent. Turn right onto Broadway/Trans-Canada Hwy/MB-1 E (signs for Trans-Canada Highway). Turn left onto Main St (signs for MB-52 N). Make a U-turn at Graham Avenue. The Humphry Inn & Suites will be on the right.
  Winnipeg Airport Head west toward Wellington Ave (restricted usage road) and continue straight onto Wellington Ave. Slight left to stay on Wellington Ave. Turn left onto Century St N/Rte 90 N. Continue to follow Rte 90 N. Turn right onto Dublin Ave/Rte 57 E (signs for MB-57 E). Continue to follow Rte 57 E and continue onto Cumberland Ave E. Continue onto Donald St S/Rte 42 S. Turn left onto Portage Ave/Rte 57 E/Rte 85 E . Turn right onto Main St/Rte 52 S/Rte 57 E (signs for Route 52 S) Continue to follow Main St/Rte 52 S. Humphry Inn & Suites will be on the right. AIRLINES Westjet (888) 937-8538 Westjet offers affordable, customer-driven service. They service many Canadian cities, including Winnipeg. Air Canada (800) 247-2262 Canada's major flight provider offers service throughout Canada. NorthWest Airlines (800) 225-2525 Flies one daily flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg. United Airlines (800) 538-2929 Flies two flights daily to Winnipeg via Chicago and Denver (code share with Air Canada).
  Winnipeg Train Station Head north on Main Street towards York Ave. Make a u turn at Graham Avenue. The Humphry Inn & Suites will be on the right. VIA Rail Canada (888) 842-7245 Train service available to Winnipeg. We suggest booking well in advance of departure date to ensure space and best fares. Also, inquire about special rates for seniors and students. Reasonably priced food is available onboard the train, but you may wish to bring some healthy snacks!
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent Arrivals/Introductions
(Sunday, October 13)
 Afternoon: ARRIVALS: Arrivals and independent transfers to the program hotel. Please note that rooms are usually available in mid afternoon.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: INTRODUCTIONS: Following dinner, you will meet for introductions, a review of the program and site orientation.
Accommodations: Humphry Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Manitoba Museum: Experience the Aurora/Inuit People/Behind the Scenes at Hudson's Bay Company Gallery
(Monday, October 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Set sail on a thrilling voyage of excitement and discovery at The Manitoba Museum. Only here can you travel through time to the roaring 20_s, explore a 17th century ship, and view treasures from around the world. The Manitoba Museum’s Award-winning Galleries tell the story of Manitoba through the ages, from the northern Arctic coast to the southern prairie grasslands. The universal interrelationship of people and their environment comes to life in displays of artifacts and specimens, and in the dramatic walkthrough settings that seem to make time stand still.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Manitoba Museum. Visit the Manitoba Museum for an in-depth study of the region's natural history and an introduction to the vast subarctic region of Northern Manitoba. Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of Aurora Borealis by watching our full-dome adventure: Experience the Aurora. This presentation shares the science behind the Aurora and tells the story of a team’s quest to photograph this spectacular phenomenon. Over seven month in the Arctic Circle, a photography crew captured image of the Aurora. The results are spectacular.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: PRESENTATION AND FIELD TRIP: This interactive program, lead by Museum Interpreters, will give you an understanding of the traditional lifestyles of the Inuit people. Learn about the Inuit as hunters, gatherers and fishers and their seasonal dependency on migratory game. The artifact study and gallery tour focusing on the Arctic/Sub-Arctic gallery will demonstrate how the limited resources of fur, skin, stone and bone were integral to the
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Did you ever wonder what treasures the Museum has up in its vaults? Like most museums, we are only able to display a small fraction of our collections at any one time – we have over 2.8 million artifacts and specimens. Join us as we take you behind the scenes of the Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery to view pieces from our Inuit Collection, and discover the history of HBC along with the traditional lifestyles of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and their unique adaptations to the world of the commercial fur trade. Items not on display are carefully preserved in humidity and temperature controlled vaults. Our collections are looked after by a variety of museum professionals, investigated by researchers and exhibited in an interpretive context created by designers and artists.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Humphry Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: International Polar Bear Conservation Centre/Flight to Churchill/Introduction to Polar Bears
(Tuesday, October 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: PRESENTATION and FIELD TRIP: International Polar Bear Conservation Center (IPBCC). Meet a representative from the IPBCC who will discuss the new International Polar Bear Conservation Center and the Journey to Churchill exhibit that is currently under development. As the sea ice continues to diminish, scientists anticipate an increased number of polar bears in need of help. Hear about how the Centre is preparing for the challenges ahead and the unique and invaluable role it will play in establishing and coordinating polar bear rescue efforts. This role includes transitioning orphan polar bear cubs to life as animal ambassadors, actively participating in education of visitors to polar bears and polar bear conservation, and conducting research that assists in the conservation of polar bears in the wild. The IPBCC and Journey to Churchill are world class developments that will bring together researchers and the public towards the common goal of maintaining healthy Arctic ecosystems.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: ORIENTATION: Enjoy an interpretive walk around the property and an orientation of the building and a natural history video before dinner.
 Afternoon: FLIGHT TO CHURCHILL & CHECK-IN: Arrive in Churchill during the late afternoon. Check-in to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre followed by a group safety briefing and orientation.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Polar Bears. The evening program begins at 7:30 p.m. with a welcome and an introductory lecture on polar bears. Learn about the polar bear population in Churchill, polar marine ecology, and marine mammals. Hear about research and studies of the population of polar bears in western Hudson Bay in relation to climatic change.
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Polar Bear Viewing/Brown Bears
(Wednesday, October 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Polar Bear Viewing. Travel out onto the tundra to view polar bears from specially designed tundra vehicles - the trip is six hours in duration. The vehicle is pretty large, so when it is not moving there is enough space to walk around and go on the back deck to take pictures. We will have our lunch on board with hot cocoa and coffee and there are washroom facilities on board.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the Tundra Vehicle.
 Afternoon: Polar bear viewing continues during the afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Brown Bears. Enjoy an evening lecture on brown bears (cousins to the polar bear).
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Current Research/Dogsledding/Polar Bear Conservation Issues
(Thursday, October 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Morning: PRESENTATION: This morning's talk highlights the current research at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Lunch: Lunch at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Afternoon: EXCURSION: Dogsledding. Afternoon dogsledding excursion into the boreal forest. Dress warmly, moderate amount of walking/standing. Warming hut and outhouse on site.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Polar Bear Conservation Issues. This evening's lecture focusses on polar bear conservation issues.
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Polar Bear Viewing/Aboriginal Heritage
(Friday, October 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Polar Bear Viewing. Another fun-filled day of polar bear viewing on the tundra.
 Lunch: Lunch on the Tundra Vehicle.
 Afternoon: Field trip continues - polar bear viewing and interpretation on habitats, species behavior and conservation issues.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Aboriginal Heritage. This evening's lecture is by a local aboriginal elder.
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Town of Churchill/Eskimo Museum/Farewell Social
(Saturday, October 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Town of Churchill. Travel by bus in and around the town of Churchill for an area visit. Watch out for arctic foxes and arctic hares!
 Lunch: Lunch in the town of Churchill at participants' own expense. The cost is approximately $10-15 USD.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Eskimo Museum & Interpretive Site. Spend the afternoon in Churchill, Manitoba - Polar Bear Capital of the World. Visit the Eskimo museum, home to one of the oldest and most comprehensive collection of Inuit artifacts and sculpture in Canada. The Museum is dedicated to advancing knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Northern culture and history with an emphasis on the Canadian Inuit.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Lively group discussion on polar bears and their challenges for the future. FAREWELL EVENING: Farewell festivities to follow feature wine and traditional food tasting including arctic char, caribou and homemade bannock served with locally made jams and jellies.
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Flight to Winnipeg/Independent Departures
(Sunday, October 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre. Optional walk and video prior to departing for the airport for our flight back to Winnipeg.
 Morning: FLIGHT TO WINNIPEG: Our flight back to Winnipeg leaves Churchill at 11:00 a.m. Approximate arrival time at Winnipeg International Airport is 2:00 p.m. Independent departures from Winnipeg.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Polar Bears

Author: Ian Stirling

Description: Polar Bears - by Ian Stirling, with photographs by Dan Guravich, published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, is one of the definitive books on Polar bears by a well known bear biologist. ISBN 1-55041-466-6 (200+ pages).

White Bear of the North: WAPUSK

Author: Rebecca L. Grambo

Description: White Bear of the North: WAPUSK. Photographs by Dennis Fast, text by Rebecca L. Grambo, published by Heartland Press. A lovely coffee table book with lots of beautiful photographs and text to compliment captures the life cycle of Canada’s best known polar bear population. Heartlands Associates Inc. ISBN: 1-896150-32-2

The World of the Polar Bear

Author: Norbert Rosing

Description: The World of the Polar Bear by Norbert Rosing. “An informative and entertaining text complements Rosing’s beautiful photographic work, transporting the reader…” Firefly Books ISBN: 1-55209-068-X.

Polar Bears

Author: Nikita Ovsyaniko

Description: Polar Bears by Nikita Ovsyaniko, published by Raincoast. It is a very good coffee table book about the polar bears of Wrangel Island, in the eastern Russian Arctic.

Encounters on Hudson Bay, Churchill Region

Author: Lorraine E. Brandson and Bonnie Chartier

Description: Encounters on Hudson Bay, Churchill Region compiled by Lorraine E. Brandson and Bonnie Chartier, published by the Diocese of Churchill Hudson Bay. General Information on the climate, flora and fauna with interesting anecdotes about the flora and fauna from Aboriginal legends, and early explorers to present day researchers. Available for purchase in most stores in Churchill, but may be hard to find elsewhere.

Reaching North: A Celebration of the Subarctic

Author: Jamie Bastedo

Description: Reaching North: A Celebration of the Subarctic, by Jamie Bastedo, published by Red Deer College Press ISBN: 0-88995-170-5. Great stories by Yellowknife naturalist Jamie Bastedo that impart good environmental understanding of the North.

Turmoil and Triumph

Author: Ian Bickle

Description: Turmoil and Triumph. Ian Bickle. Published by Temeron Press. The story of the Hudson Bay Railroad. ISBN: 1-55059-107X. This is a great read, especially if you are headed back on the train. It gives an explanation for all of the intriguing sign-posts you see along the way.

Ancient People of the Arctic

Author: Robert McGhee

Description: Ancient People of the Arctic by Robert McGhee ISBN: 0-7748-0854-3, published by UBC. “Makes the story of continent-wide migrations, adaptations to harsh environments, and dramatic climate change comes alive…appeal (s) to anyone with an interest in the North and its history.” John Wilson, Quill and Quire.

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