The present town grew up on the east bank of the river after 1931 when the HUDSON BAY RAILWAY terminal and harbour facilities were completed. The railway arrived earlier in 1929. With World War II, the locality prospered as a northern supply centre and military base and continued as a research station and rocket launching site until the mid-1980s. With the closing of the military base in the 1960s its population has declined from its peak of around 4000.
Churchill has struggled to rebuild its economy. In 1994 Akjuit Aerospace Inc redeveloped the rocket launching facility to provide launch services for international launch vehicles but closed 4 years later. Churchill is some 1600 km closer to Europe by sea than Montréal is, but its short 4-month shipping season and shallow waters restrict its development as an ocean port. Although Churchill is only accessible by air or rail, ecotourism is an important aspect of its economy with visitors coming for polar bear and beluga whale excursions and for access to WAPUSK NATIONAL PARK. The town is also rich in historical resources including pre-Dorset and Dorset sites, a partially reconstructed Prince of Wales Fort (designated a national historic site in 1920), Cape Merry battery and the 18th century mooring site of Sloop Cove.
Author H. JOHN SELWOOD
Links to Other Sites
The Barren Lands
This site offers an extensive online collection of archival documents from two Geological Survey of Canada expditions to the Barren Lands region located in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and in the area now known as Nunavut. From the University of Toronto.
Prince of Wales Fort
This illustrated Parks Canada website is dedicated to the history of Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site of Canada.
Hudson's Bay Company Archives
A comprehensive information source about the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the fur trade in Canada. A Manitoba Government website.
The website for Travel Manitoba highlights popular tourist destinations and events throughout the province.
Take a virtual tour of the York Factory National Historic Site of Canada, located in Churchill, Manitoba.
The website for the Town of Churchill, Manitoba. Check out the many recreational opportunites includng tours and places for viewing polar bears, whales, and the Aurora Borealis.
Churchill Northern Studies Centre
The website for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, a research and education facility located near Churchill, Manitoba. The centre’s programs focus on social issues, the physical environment, and sustainable resource development.
The website for the Town of Churchill in Manitoba. Described as the "polar bear capital of the world." Check out the numerous outdoor recreational opportunities in the region.
The truth about polar bears
An article about contemporary challenges facing polar bear populations in Canada. From the Canadian Geographic website.