Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fort Churchill (Churchill)

The community of Churchill is located at the mouth of the river of the same name, 965 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg on the southwest shore of Hudson Bay. Initially founded as a trading post by the Hudson’s Bay Company, with the arrival of the train line to southern Manitoba in 1929 it became an active port to send grains for Europe. In 1942, the United States Air Force—with Canadian approval—built an airport, infrastructure and quarters to support it, which became Fort Churchill.

The American forces developed a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base at Churchill, as a companion to the northern monitoring stations. At the south end of the main airstrip, a multi-layered SAC structure, now demolished, and the large hangers that serviced the jets still exist at the airport.

Fort Churchill was the support centre for the Churchill Rocket Range, established in 1957. It became a logistics and service centre for much of the central Arctic and, at one time, it housed a boarding school where teenage Inuit students were brought to receive higher education. In an attempt to modernize the Churchill townsite, new housing and infrastructure was created and the population of Fort Churchill was relocated.

With the end of rocket launches, cuts in military spending, and closure of the US First Arctic Test Centre (FATC), the buildings at the Fort Churchill site were demolished in 1981. The outline of the former facility is still clearly visible, next to the Churchill airport.

Aerial view of Fort Churchill

Aerial view of Fort Churchill (1958)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2017-0141

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N58.75713, W94.06660
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Cape Merry / Fort Churchill (Churchill)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: HMCS Churchill / CFS Churchill / Churchill Naval Base (Kelsey Boulevard, Churchill)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fort Churchill School District No. 2317 / Duke of Edinburgh School (Hearne Avenue, Churchill)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: L9 Building / Institute of Arctic Ecophysiology Building (Amundsen Road, Churchill)


This page was prepared by Tim Worth and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 February 2022

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