Saturday, 21 March 2015
I moved to Churchill, Manitoba from Vancouver in 1998 and have never looked back. For me this is home and my hope is that it always will be. To many people this move may seem drastic, but growing up in Northern Ontario prepared me or that's what I thought. There is no way to prepare for a winter at about 58 degrees latitude if you've never experienced it. There is no way to prepare for the insects in the early summer, the stark landscape and the fact that given the chance this land will kill a person. Sixteen years later, I'm still adapting.
I live my life with my partner Claude Daudet and our dog Samson. Claude is a man of the land and Samson is a medium poodle mix and he goes almost everywhere with us. We have a cabin on Claude's trap line, it's about 65 miles up the Churchill River and that is where we are the happiest. The cabin is not what came to mind when I thought of a trapper cabin, it's more like a house. Large, airy, warm and comfortable. It is a cliche but I waited all my years for this man and this life. The cabin is only accessible in the winter by snowmobile, helicopter (we are not at that income level) and some summers by boat. We have two Arctic Cat Bear Cats that get us there comfortably (comfort is relative) in the winter and a boat is on the horizon.
Interested in the north for as far back as I can remember I knew that someday I would at least see it. I imagined myself living in the far north of Canada and thought that I knew what that life would look like, crackling fires, lots of red and black plaid, log home; those romantic ideas have been replaced by the reality. That reality is life here is not easy. Food is expensive; the quality and selection is limited. Activities are limited; there are movies some weekends, we live in a 3 bedroom Manitoba Housing unit, there's no fireplace and I don't really like plaid, no real shopping and no roads into town. The population is only about 1,000 people; from these you pick your friends and make your enemies.
Set on the edge of Western Hudson Bay surrounded by taiga and boreal forest; Churchill to many may seem like a series of toos; too stark, too small, too inaccessible, too cold, too many bugs, too many polar bears and too unforgiving. It is all of those toos; it is also too beautiful and a lot more. There is a community feeling here that I have never experienced before, we truly care for each other. We are much like the ultimate dysfunctional family, snarky siblings that dislike each other a lot of the time and then come together to solve a crisis or fulfill a need.
My idea for this blog is to open up the north in an accessible way. To take away some of the mystery of a northern Canadian life. My ultimate goal is to make all of those that spent any time in Churchill miss it and come back.