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Manitoba from the Air
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The Port of Churchill


Manitoba is the only Prairie Province that has a seacoast and contains the region’s only port, Churchill, located at the mouth of the Churchill River 1 on the coast of Hudson Bay 2. Churchill can be reached by the Hudson’s Bay Railway line that starts at Winnipeg, runs northwest into Saskatchewan, back into Manitoba southwest of The Pas, from where it runs northeast through Gillam, across the Nelson River and then north to Churchill. Completed in 1930, it was intended to provide an outlet for prairie products (grain) intended for Europe. Although located closer to European ports than Montreal and Quebec, it is hampered by the fact that Hudson Bay is frozen for long periods. Consequently the long-term future of both the railway line and of Churchill is in doubt. However, the phenomenon of global warming which could produce a longer ice-free period may auger well for Churchill’s future. The Hudson Bay Railway is owned by railway holding company OmniTRAX based in Denver, Colorado.

Seen here is the railway line 3 entering from the south. It runs northeast of massive grain silos 4. Branch lines lead to the dockside 5 and to four large fuel storage tanks 6; six smaller tanks can be seen further south 7. Many train cars can be seen on the tracks in several locations 8, those near the fuel storage tanks having the distinctive shadow of oil trucks 9. A conveyor system 10 leads from one of the silos to the dock where three large ships are visible 11.


Figure 18.1

The Port of Churchill