Driving the few miles from the airport westward into town, one is struck by the ‘outpost’ look and feel of the Churchill area. Odd, low abandoned buildings dot the stark landscape along the two land blacktop. Drawing closer to town, the scene is typical of many small mid-continent towns of Canada and the United States.
Forget the image of little snow-covered log cabins with smoking stovepipes poking above their roofs. Most of the town’s buildings are rather plain, no-nonsense architecture of metal or composite siding, well insulated to withstand howling, frigid winter winds.
The airport highway becomes Kelsey Avenue once you’re in town, and is the main street of Churchill. Most of the town hotels and restaurants are either on Kelsey or just immediately off the road. On the north side of town, near the shore of Hudson Bay, lies the Town Complex, a modern concrete and glass structure that houses a restaurant, the high school, bowling alley, movie theater, meeting rooms, swimming pool, library and a regional health clinic for the entire region north into the Northwest Territories, now called Nunavut. Don’t overlook the little Eskimo Musuem, run by the Catholic Diocese — it’s probably one of the best repositories of Inuit art and tools anywhere.
Further west, just outside of town and along the shore of the mile-wide Churchill River, stand the great grain elevators. Surprisingly, it’s actually closer for grain farmers on the Canadian prairies to ship their products to Europe via the Port of Churchill than it is through the St. Lawrence Seaway, far to the south.
A railroad runs from Winnipeg to Churchill, across the muskeg and tundra, and carries hundreds of railcar loads of grain to the Churchill elevators. From June until October, huge ships from Europe and Russia take on the grain and head for European markets.
Churchill Town Map