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A Hudsonís Bay Co. post erected in 1685 was later replaced by the massive Fort Prince of Wales on the west side of the Churchill River estuary in the early 1700s. The fort still stands as evidence of French-English rivalry for control of the New World and of the lucrative fur trade.
Although it is not self-evident, Churchill is the closest seaport to the great cereal fields of central Canada.
So, in the beginning of the century, it was decided that a port would be constructed on the Hudson Bay. A railroad would link it to southern manitoba.
It was built in 1930 and runs for 1900 kms to Winnipeg.
During the Second World War, the American and Canadian military recognized Churchillís strategic importance as the northernmost town near Hudson Bay with rail links from the south for supplies and equipment. In 1942, a large airbase was built here and expanded after the War. In 1980, the base was closed, but the airport and rocket ranges are still in use.
There is no road out of Churchill. There are about 963 permanent residents (2001 Census). Most of them work for the seaport, the airport or various federal or provincial services (the hospital, and so on). And there is tourism. The whole city is booked a year in advance for the bear season, during the fall. These few months fuel an incredible number of businesses, from the individual guide to the tour operator.
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Last Updated: October 12, 2002
Pictures Copyright 2000, 2002 Vincent K. Chan
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