Churchill Wild is proud to announce the publication of our new 25th Anniversary coffee table book: Churchill Wild – 25 years of Adventure on the Hudson Bay Coast, which is now available for purchase online at McNally Robinson!
From the back cover: In 1993, Mike and Jeanne Reimer set out to do what no one had ever done before. Inspired by the rugged beauty of the Canadian north and the iconic wildlife that call it home, their dream was to offer the ultimate Arctic safari experience: walking with polar bears.
Mike and Jeanne’s vision to take guests exploring in the pristine wilderness along the coast of Hudson Bay and to educate them about its abundant flora and fauna was a bold one. They wanted to provide immersive life-changing experiences based out of remote and sustainable ecolodges.
The 25-year adventure that brought Churchill Wild to where it is today was full of ups and downs, dreaming and building, exploring, discovering and learning. This book is the story of that adventure, and of the people, wildlife and wild places that made it possible.
Packed with history reaching back over 80 years, beautiful photos, family and staff biographies, stories and anecdotes from guests, staff, media and photographers, the new 184-page soft-cover publication tells the story of how Mike and Jeanne Reimer pioneered and developed the world’s first true polar bear walking safaris, beginning with the purchase of an abandoned whale research station on Canada’s Hudson Bay coast 25 years ago.
In their first year of operation they had only one paying guest. Today, Churchill Wild owns and operates three luxury remote ecolodges on the Hudson Bay coast — two of which are members of the prestigious National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection — and 700 guests visit the Churchill Wild lodges annually to see and photograph polar bears at ground level.
The book begins with Our Story, a detailed history of Churchill Wild which is divided into sections entitled: A Match Made in Heaven, Humble Beginnings at Seal River, First Guests and Early Lessons, Walking with Polar Bears and the Development of Safety Protocols, Great Ice Bear Adventure Begins at Dymond Lake, Building on Strong Foundations, The Accidental Business Model, Early Lessons in Customer Service, Efficiency, Solar Power and Sustainability, New (and fabulous) Standards in the Kitchen, A Special Brand of Kindness, Respect for Land and First Nations Culture, Our 100th Guest, Churchill Wild Becomes Official, Purchase of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Upgrades and Improvements Continue, Increased Popularity Leads to New Polar Bear Photo Safaris, Awards and Recognition, Giving Back and Looking Forward.
Following the history section is The Churchill Wild Experience, which includes unique guest photos and the stories behind them, along with descriptive quotes from stories that have appeared in media publications around the world. Next comes Building in the North and Our Lodges, which details the trials, tribulations and joys of developing properties in the north, along with descriptions of Seal River Heritage Lodge, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Dymond Lake Ecolodge and the different locations and ecosystems surrounding each lodge.
The Our People section begins with a biography of Churchill Wild founders Mike and Jeanne Reimer, followed by the story of Jeanne’s parents, Doug and Helen Webber, who were instrumental in helping Mike and Jeanne get started, and whose own family history in the Manitoba tourism industry goes back over 80 years.
Also included in the Our People section are the biographies of Doug and Helen’s daughters Toni (CEO, Churchill Wild) and Shari (Director of Logistics and Human Resources), Nolan Booth (Director of Operations) and Doreen Booth (Manager of Sales and Guest Relations), and lead naturalist guides Andy MacPherson and Terry Elliott. A biography of Dennis Fast, Churchill Wild’s chief photographer for over 20 years, and the first guide to take guests walking with polar bears, is also included earlier in the book.
Our Culinary Story tells the tale of how Churchill Wild’s exceptional reputation for delicious food and recipes began with Helen Webber and her friend Marie Woolsey in the mid 1970s and describes how the two friends developed the best-selling cookbook series Blueberries & Polar Bears, which forms the basis of the Churchill Wild culinary delights today. Sixteen guest-favourite recipes are also included in the final section of the book.
Dedicated to Mike and Jeanne’s parents the book begins with a Preface and ends with Acknowledgments written by Mike and Jeanne, thanking everyone who has helped them build Churchill Wild into a world-renowned wildlife tourism business in Canada, including their parents, relatives, guests, staff, photographers, members of the media, builders, writers, editors and the people of their hometown, Churchill, Manitoba.
Written by George Williams and Vanessa Desorcy and edited by Toque & Canoe’s editor-in-chief Kim Gray and senior editor Valerie Berenyi, Churchill Wild – 25 years of Adventure on the Hudson Bay Coast is an amazing story of entrepreneurial spirit and the many different elements that had to mesh together perfectly to grow a successful tourism business in some of the wildest locations on the planet, deep in the heart of polar bear country.
It’s been over 30 years since Mike and Jeanne Reimer were first escorted by a polar bear while on a picnic hike date on the Hudson Bay coast from North River to Dymond Lake. The bear walked all the way with them, minding his own business, just watching, never threatening. It was almost as if he knew, even back then, that these people belonged here. They did.
And this is their story.
If you would like to purchase Churchill Wild – 25 years of Adventure on the Hudson Bay Coast, please email [email protected] or call the Churchill Wild office Toll Free at 1 (204) 1.866.UGO.WILD (846.9453) or 1.204.878.5090. Books will also be available at our lodges and a limited number of copies will be for sale in-store at McNally Robinson, Grant Park and McNally Robinson, The Forks in Winnipeg. The books are also now available online at McNally Robinson.
About Churchill Wild:
Churchill Wild offers polar bear walking safaris out of our three luxury ecolodges located on Canada’s Hudson Bay coast from July through November. Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge are members of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, and along with Dymond Lake Ecolodge have received numerous TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence as a result of a combined total of 280 5-Star Reviews on TripAdvisor.
Over 4,000 guests have now experienced the exhilarating adventure of meeting a polar bear at ground level at one or more of our three lodges, while also enjoying a supporting cast of beluga whales, wolves, caribou, moose, wolverine, Arctic hare and fox, myriad birds and the beautiful flora of the subarctic.
Churchill Wild has won numerous national and international tourism awards for excellence, Mike and Jeanne have been elected to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows and guests have become loyal evangelists for Churchill Wild’s unique brand of ecotourism, which we are sincerely thankful for.