The world’s highest natural concentration of polar bears lives not within the Arctic Circle like you might think, but near a tiny town in the northeastern prairies of Manitoba.
Located on the western edge of Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba is renowned for two main things: its spectacular views of the Northern Lights, and its resident polar bears.
Because of the number of fluffy white inhabitants, local companies offer specialty polar bear tours in the area, and there is even a website dedicated to providing information and updates about the bear population, which is at its height in the fall and winter.
The waters of the bay offer the bears some prime seal hunting once they begin to freeze over, and the chilly conditions — as Churchill is extremely northerly in the province and in close proximity to the Nunavut border — make it an ideal home for them.
There is a designated wildlife management area to ensure the bears’ habitat remains preserved (as much as it can be with the recent changes in climate that are notorious for affecting polar bears specifically) and that they are able to continue to live and thrive in the area.
Even though Churchill’s human population is less than 900, the majestic beasts are still a bit infamous for showing up in town. Based on photos from locals, they seem to be quite inquisitive about humans in general, and eager to approach the tour buses that come through regularly.
The region also boasts a slew of other stunning wildlife not seen in other parts of Canada, such as the Arctic fox, caribou, camouflaged ptarmigan and Arctic hare.
And, its unique tundra and location lend well to activities like dog sledding and snowshoeing, which visitors can experience while learning about the area’s rich Indigenous history from local elders and storytellers.
If you’re a fan of polar bears (or of wildlife in general) and would love to see some of the creatures up-close and personal in their natural habitat, then a trip to the world’s polar bear capital of Churchill may be well worth your while.