Polar Bear Blog

Refurbishing (and remembering) Camp Nanuq

Work crew at Camp Nanuq
Work crew at Camp Nanuq

by Allison Francoeur

Originally built in 1942 by an American engineering corps, the barracks type buildings of Camp Nanuq were relocated from the Churchill, Manitoba airport area and transformed into a great summer camp location for the town.

Churchill was a joint military base though it was never used for the war efforts. Now, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts unite at Camp Nanuq for a sweet long weekend. And I don’t just mean the cookies they sell.

The main structure is composed of three long buildings that have been connected along the back. One for sleeping, one for eating, and in the middle a lounging area for the evenings. A smaller building deemed “Old Wolves’ Den” is where most of the camp staff reside in their down time, if there is such a thing at summer camp.

The long brown building is known as Lord’s Lodge, named after Father Lord, a catholic priest in the 1940s to ‘60s and a Padre for the military. He was instrumental in the constructing of the camp and highly active in scouting. His building is used for all types of crafting, games, and survival skills.

This year, a crew from Churchill Wild was sent in to give the buildings a fresh face. Battling bugs and coastal weather, we had great success putting on new siding, staining, and sealing the buildings. After a week we were already finishing caulking the main building, nearly finished siding the Old Wolves’ Den, and beginning the framework on Lord’s Lodge.

It was different being on a construction crew. Music played all day under the sounds of saws and nail guns. And the bugs were horrendous (or maybe I’ve just gone soft), so we were all working in bug jackets; ripping off the old siding with a vengeance, because you can’t possibly escape, you can only get the job done as soon as possible.

A furry white butt was spotted in the bush one foggy morning, but otherwise we didn’t see any polar bears around the worksite. This time we are thankful for that. We had two watchdogs, or rather a dog and our little puppy, to keep us alerted to any visitors.

It was a special opportunity for me, contributing to rebuilding a camp that I visited as a child. There are photos tacked up of my childhood friends, my older sister’s handprint commemorated on a wall, and so many memories in the old rooms. I can’t say I miss peeing in a bucket at night…

But I do miss the wildness of summer camp.

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