First shipment of supplies arrives in Churchill from new winter road

The shipment of supplies came into Churchill Friday.
The shipment of supplies came into Churchill Friday. Patricia Kandiurin/Supplied

It’s a long-awaited shipment of supplies just in time for the holidays.

Churchill got its first delivery on a new winter road Friday as about 20,000 pounds of goods were pulled into the community.

The town was cut off after the rail line washed out in the spring, so Polar Industries, Fox Lake Cree Nation and Churchill’s Remote Area Services worked to build a 300 km road between Gillam and Churchill.

READ MORE: Manitoba businesses and First Nation to build ice road to Churchill

Mark Kohaykewych from Polar Industries said the trek was challenging.

“The further north we went the terrain got more difficult. The snow drifts were crazy, the temperatures — when we would wake up it was -44 one day. I mean our Diesel pumps weren’t working, the fuel turned to syrup,” he said.

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Kohaykewych said crews left Tuesday morning, working nearly around the clock in a dangerously remote area.

“These guys are literally putting their lives on the line,” he said. “If something goes wrong you’re not getting a chopper in over night. If someone gets hurt, you’re waiting until daylight hours.”

READ MORE: Transport Canada ready to move forward with Omnitrax lawsuit over Churchill rail line

The crew was greeted like Santa, with the street lined with residents and signs welcoming them to Churchill.

“Everybody was welcoming us on the main streets. It was pretty cool, shaking hands, lots of hugs. Churchill is an amazing town full of amazing people,” Kohaykewych said.

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It took around 30 hours to make the trip, but Kohaykewych said it will be a regular one.

“Every single move had to be calculated. Everything we did was a risk but it all had to be a calculated risk.”

The road is expected to stay up and running until the spring thaw.