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Parks and Historic Sites

Wapusk National Park of Canada

Wapusk National Park is an immense lowland area of 11,475 square kilometers southeast of Churchill. This impressive park, established in 1996, represents the features of the Hudson-James Lowlands Natural Region in Canada’s system of national parks.

Wapusk, the Cree word for white bear, is home to one of the world’s largest-known polar bear maternity denning areas.Wapusk National Park also provides critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. These birds nest along the Hudson Bay coast in summer and gather to feed during spring and fall migrations.

Visitors can enter the park through the services of tour operators, but access to this remote park is otherwise limited.

Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site of Canada

The Prince of Wales Fort encompasses a massive fortification along with installations at Cape Merry and Sloop Cove. A huge stone fortress that took the Hudson’s Bay Company 40 years to build in the1700s, it’s a reminder of the French-English struggle for control of Hudson Bay’s fur trade. But the fort did not live up to expectations and in 1782 it fell without a shot being fired from any of its 40 cannons. Reconstruction of the fort was undertaken in the 1930s and again in the 1960s.

Guides tell the story of the rivalry, the lives of the men who lived there, and point out details of the cannon embrasures, thick walls and star-shaped bastions that make this architectural ruin nationally significant. Plaques on the site honour Sir Thomas Button, Samuel Hearne, Matonabee and the Jens Munck Expedition. Located across the Churchill River on the west peninsula, the site is accessed by boat or helicopter with tours dependent on tides and weather.

Cape Merry National Historic Site of Canada

Cape Merry is named after Captain John Merry, Deputy Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1712-1718, and is home to a stone battery that was constructed in 1746 to provide additional protection at the river mouth. Designed to supplement the defenses of Prince of Wales Fort, the battery was constructed with six cannon emplacements.

One lone cannon stands today, a stark reminder of its intent. Located at the mouth of the Churchill River, Cape Merry is also an excellent location for watching whales enter the river with the tides, observing waterfowl or migrating birds, or simply enjoying the panoramic view. For guided tour times, check with the Parks Canada office.

Sloop Cove National Historic Site of Canada

Sloop Cove provided a safe harbour and winter haven for Hudson’s Bay Company sloops – wooden ships used for exploration, whaling and northern trading with the Inuit. Due to post-glacial land uplift, it is now a meadow surrounded by rocks with iron mooring rings.

The rocks bear signatures of Hudson’s Bay Company men, the most famous being Samuel Hearne, northern explorer and Hudson’s Bay Company’s governor. Tour arrangements can be made with private boat operators.

York Factory National Historic Site of Canada

York Factory features the remains of the great Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade post including the depot built in 1832, the oldest and largest wooden structure still standing on permafrost. Located near the mouth of the Hayes River about 250 km southeast of Churchill, the site also features a cemetery containing the graves of Fort officers, traders and hunters.

Between 1684 and its closing 273 years later in 1957, York Factory served as a trading post, distribution point and administrative centre for a vast network of fur posts throughout the west. From 1812 to the late 1850s, it was also the main entry point for European immigration to Western Canada. This remote site is staffed by Parks Canada from approximately June 1 to mid-September. Access is limited to charter planes or boats.