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Expedition Churchill: A Gateway to Arctic Research

Arctic themed dining car ready to ride the rails

November 30, 2018 — 

Expedition Churchill: A Gateway to Arctic Research has been launched and is ready to “ride the rails.” The interactive project was developed by the University of Manitoba in partnership with VIA Rail, The Town of Churchill, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC), Assiniboine Park Zoo and Travel Manitoba.

Expedition Churchill: A Gateway to Arctic Research is a creative public education and outreach campaign to share the world-leading Arctic climate change research done in the Churchill and Hudson Bay region by University of Manitoba scientists and collaborators.

Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba, notes: “The University of Manitoba is known as a global leader in climate change research in the Arctic, Churchill and Hudson Bay regions of the North. This unique outreach project links science, community, education, conservation and tourism in a manner that benefits our province and our world.”

The project includes a visual multimedia e-book and interactive kiosks located across Manitoba, including: the Zoo’s Journey to Churchill Exhibit, Travel Manitoba at the Forks, James Richardson International Airport, The Town of Churchill, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, and in the Wallace building on the U of M campus.  A unique feature of this initiative is the use of the VIA Rail passenger train that travels between Winnipeg and Churchill as a platform to communicate and promote awareness.

“Churchill is seeing firsthand the challenges and opportunities from climate change,” remarked Town of Churchill Mayor Mike Spence. “We are at the forefront of Arctic climate research and Expedition Churchill is a useful and necessary tool as we use education to advance this important research work for the planet. We are pleased to partner with the University of Manitoba.”

The Expedition Churchill e-book informs the reader about the transforming Arctic from the women and men who work there. Readers will discover the region, climate, and research underway in Churchill and Hudson Bay—Manitoba’s gateway to the Arctic.

“Climate change is arguably one of the most significant challenges our civilization has ever faced,” said U of M’s Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science David Barber. “We have known for years that this was coming and we have done little to nothing to minimize its impacts.”

“Our major new research facility in Churchill, and the Expedition Churchill outreach program, will allow us to bring cutting edge climate research to the public and to policy makers who ultimately both have the responsibility to create and enforce policies which will stabilize our climate system, and hopefully avoid the most harmful impacts of our changing climate,” said Barber.

A variety of media resources complement the e-book content, including videos, narrated field notes, and interactive infographics.

“An educational program including curricular links, educators’ guide and workshops, and a traveling kiosk are planned for the next phase of the project,” said project lead Lucette Barber.

The newly designed Arctic research themed dining car will travel the rail line between Winnipeg and Churchill beginning this Sunday, with the much-anticipated renewal of passenger service to Churchill. This project will explore future opportunities for scientists to join travellers onboard the train to share their knowledge, expertise and stories from the field.  


The University of Manitoba is home to the Centre for Earth Observation Science, one of the largest and most influential Arctic sea ice-focused research groups in the world. Building upon a remarkable trajectory of growth since 1994, this group has seized, and truly realized, the exceptional opportunities brought by the first and only Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) at the U of M. The research excellence of the UM-CERC unit has been recognized in the UM’s Strategic Research Plan (2015–2020), which identifies Arctic System Science and Climate Change as one of the University’s three “signature areas” of established research excellence. This speaks to the University’s commitment for achieving global leadership in Arctic research through continued investment in infrastructure and the development of national and international partnerships required for truly innovative Arctic System Science research.

VIA Rail Canada
As Canada’s national rail passenger service, VIA Rail and all its employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service, in both official languages of our country. VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transports nearly 4.4 million passengers annually. The Corporation has been awarded five Safety Awards and three Environment Awards by the Railway Association of Canada since 2007.

VIA Rail’s services in Northern Manitoba
VIA Rail’s trains provide a unique and unparalleled way of discovering the Northern Manitoba region and communities along the route. From one season to the next, Canadians and tourists from all over the world can travel by train to the vast subarctic region of Northern Manitoba and enjoy the region’s rugged northern beauty

The Town of Churchill
Located on the shores of Hudson Bay, the Town of Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World. It is also Manitoba’s connection to the ocean and a key shipping gateway with Canada’s only arctic deep-water seaport. Churchill is at the forefront of arctic climate research and offers world class research facilities, hosting visitors from all over the world. We encourage you to come up and visit!

Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Founded in 1976, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CSNC) is an independent, non-profit research and education facility located 23 km east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba. The CSNC provides accommodations, meals, equipment rentals, and logistical support to scientific researchers working on a diverse range of topics of interest to northern science. In addition to research, the Centre facilitates a wide range of educational programming ranging from general interest courses for the visiting public to university credit courses for students.

Assiniboine Park Zoo
Home to nearly 170 animal species, the Assiniboine Park Zoo has been a destination for exploration, learning, and fun for over a century. The Zoo is open year-round, with both indoor and outdoor exhibits and features a range of exotic animals including Amur tigers, camels, snow leopards and more. Visitors will discover the magic of the north at the 10-acre, international award winning Journey to Churchill exhibit. Home to polar bears, seals, muskoxen, and Arctic fox, it is an educational classroom like no other inviting visitors to learn about biodiversity, climate change and conservation. The Zoo is involved in numerous conservation programs and initiatives and is a hub for northern species research.

Travel Manitoba
Travel Manitoba is a Crown Corporation under provincial legislation that leads and stimulates sustainable tourism growth in Manitoba’s $1.6 billion tourism industry. In partnership with the tourism industry, the agency is responsible for tourism marketing, visitor information services, research and public information.


Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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