North of 53 is the northern region of Manitoba, north of the 53° line.
- 1 Churchill — the polar bear capital of the world
- 2 Flin Flon — a mining town with a sense of humour: it was named after a character in a novel
- 3 The Pas — home of the Northern Manitoba Trappers' Festival, and gateway to the Clearwater Lake Provincial Park
- 4 Thompson — the bustling metropolis of the North (population 13,000)
- 1 Kwasitchewan Falls — Manitoba's highest waterfall is accessible via a difficult 22-km round-trip backcountry hike through Pisew Falls Provincial Park
- 2 Pisew Falls Provincial Park — beautiful 13-m-high waterfalls accessible from the parking lot
- 3 Wapusk National Park — access is restricted to preserve this refuge for the polar bears, but tours are available
- 4 Four Corners (Canada) — where two provinces and two territories meet in an extremely remote location
The name refers to 53°N and the northern border of the province is 60°N, so the area is rather large; seven degrees north-to-south is about 420 miles or 750 km. Since the Canada-US border in this area is (mostly) at 49°N and the province is considerably wider toward the North, the "North of 53" part of Manitoba includes well over half the province's land area. However, nearly all the province's population is in the south. This area is quite sparsely populated.
Forestry, mining and hydro-electric development are significant economic drivers. This region is covered by large extents of boreal forest with stunted Black Spruce dominant, with association of Tamarack. There are several mammals in the region including the Arctic fox, Beluga whale and Polar bear. The Polar bear has a significant denning area within the Wapusk National Park, from which annual bear migrations to Hudson Bay are made.
The largest municipality is the city of Thompson. Other major population centres include the city of Flin Flon and the town of The Pas. First Nations reserves (so-called "Indian reserves") comprise half of the region's population.
This region experiences long and extremely cold winters and brief, warm summers with little precipitation. Overnight temperatures as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) occur on several days each winter.
Get in and around
Via Rail serves Churchill with its Hudson Bay line that begins in Winnipeg. From Winnipeg the train takes about 38-48 hours. There are several different sleeper cars, or you can ride in economy class (depending on how much you want to pay) and trying to find two empty seats to cram yourself into for a miserable night's sleep.
Northern Manitoba is accessed by two Provincial Trunk Highways: PTH 10 to Flin Flon and PTH 6 to Thompson, and by a network of smaller roads. These are extended in the winter by an additional network of winter roads.
Air transport provides access to many northern communities with 58 airfields in the region. Calm Air and Perimeter Aviation provide scheduled passenger service into larger northern communities. Chartered bush planes land on lakes when airfields are not available.
See and do
Churchill is the destination for visitors to the region, to see the polar bears by tundra vehicle. There are lots of other activities in Churchill: dog-sledding, snowmobiling, boating, snorkelling and scuba diving.
There are parks in the region too — see § Other destinations.
Each of the other settlements has one or two things to see or do, but you'd really be going there to experience life in a remote northern town.
- See also: Wildlife photography
See the Churchill article for information on polar bear safety.
Nearly all travellers here will leave the area by returning to southern Manitoba.
The area is adjacent to several other parts of northern Canada, but there are no decent road or rail routes to them. Short of undertaking a difficult and dangerous cross-country journey, the only possibilities for reaching them would be chartering a plane or boarding a northbound ship at Churchill.