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Churchill - Winnipeg - Toronto

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera.

View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today it is goodbye to Churchill. I feel very sad to leave, but this is just the beginning, we have many more places to visit. At breakfast in Churchill Motel we tell Jennifer all about last night; she is very excited for us. She’s a first class guide, with a fine mix of attentiveness and a laid back approach. Eck and Jim from our original group are also in the restaurant; they are very interested to hear about last night’s adventure. Eck is a very keen photographer, and carries both a stills and a video camera. He must have taken hundreds of images up here. The others in the group are travelling back to Winnipeg by train tonight which sounds like a fun option, but unfortunately we do not have enough time to do that. We modified a basic package to suit our requirements; Eck was rather impressed that we were able to do that.

As we have a little bit of time before the airport transfer, we walk down to the Tundra Buggy Shop to collect our free gift. I didn’t even attempt to photograph the Northern Lights last night with my camera as I know it would not come out. You would need a tripod and a timed exposure, and even then it would be very much trial and error to get any sort of image from it. I leave it to the professionals, and buy some post card depicting the lights at the Arctic Traders. We even have time to write the last few post cards.

Jennifer booked our transfer taxi last night, but it does not turn up as arranged – according to Pam in the Tundra Inn, this is quite common here. There is only one Taxi Company, and often the telephone calls go through to the drivers on a job, who forget to pass on the message to ‘control’. Pam rings them again and they have no knowledge of the booking, but send someone out straight away. As nowhere is very far in this town, that only takes five minutes.


The airport is almost deserted. For the check in you need no tickets, just give them your name, hand over the luggage and you’re on. No security check, no ex ray. Very laid back – or is it irresponsible? Especially in this day and age with the threat of terrorism. In the departure hall (which is also the arrivals, check in area, gate lounge, a small museum and café), we bump into the couple we met on the outward flight. He’s from Fort Lauderdale and she’s Colombian. We swap bear stories and gush about what a wonderful time we’ve all had. Once it’s time to board, we’re at the front of the un-orderly queue and head straight for the first seats for the extra leg room. Before we can take off, they have to de-ice the wings, but we’re soon on our way. In-between sleeping, I try the in-flight meal of pasta salad, but I’m not impressed.

We arrive at Winnipeg at 14:00 and head straight for the Air Canada check in desk. International Wildlife Adventures had recommended that we booked the latest flight out of Winnipeg today; just in case the flight from Churchill to Winnipeg was delayed due to bad weather (as often happens). Thus we have tickets for the 19:30 flight, but we are hoping to be able to get on the 14:30 as stand-by passengers. On the way to the gate we pick up a couple of souvenirs for my mother and keep everything crossed that there is room for us. There isn’t. Everyone gets on board except us. We now have to return downstairs to collect the luggage and go back to the check in desk to get stand-by tickets for the next flight. It transpires that the luggage handlers were told that all stand-by passengers got on board, so they have loaded our cases. By this time it is too late to get them unloaded, so our luggage goes to Toronto without us. The officials are rather concerned how this breach of security could have happened. I don’t feel entirely confident that the cases have actually been loaded, but I decide not to worry about it – yet.

We now have stand-by tickets for the 17:15 flight and have time to visit the pub for something to eat and drink. The delightful barmaid from earlier in the week recognises us and we are welcomed back with much delight. I have acquired a real taste for Caesar Salad and so order one to go with my sandwich. David chooses fries with his burger, and we both have a have couple of Blue each of course.

Back to the gate, there is still no room for us on the flight. We now discover that we have seats far apart for the next flight, but the lady at the gate easily changes that for us. As it turns out, the flight is not full anyway, so we end up with three seats for the two of us and can spread out. A small compensation for having to spend all day at Winnipeg Airport. This is the first time I have been served pizza on an aircraft, but as most airline food, it doesn’t reheat well.

The official at Winnipeg Airport told us to go to the Left Luggage office at Toronto Airport, where our cases should be waiting for us. Once we’ve entered the airport building I am busy looking around for the said office, when David catches sight of our suitcases going round and round on the carousel, all by themselves. They must have been left there from the 14:30 flight. It is lucky we passed that carousel and that David is so observant. I am not impressed with Air Canada luggage handling operations.

As luck would have it, by picking up the cases instantly, we are able to get straight on to the Airport Express which leaves within two minutes of us boarding. We are only just able to scrape together the fare – there was nowhere to change money in Churchill, so we have run out of Canadian currency. The difference in traffic from last time we arrived is incredible, this time it only takes ½ hour to get to the hotel. I am impressed when the receptionist recognises us from our last visit; it is after all a 500-room hotel. Although the rate is not very good, we change a bit of money in the hotel for convenience. This room seems smaller than the last one, perhaps because we have two large double beds. David has a runny nose – as is usual on holiday – and I have a tooth-ache, so we are both feeling sorry for ourselves. Bacardi & Coke raises the spirit somewhat.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:58 Archived in Canada

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