I’m making my way across Canada from the East Coast to the West via webcams. This week I’m moving into Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (my home province). These three provinces make up the “Prairies” and are all partially covered by prairie grasslands. Manitoba joined the confederation early on — in 1870, only 3 years after the original four provinces united — but Saskatchewan and Alberta joined later in 1905.
Cape North Polar Bear Cam, Wapusk National Park
Visit this view-shifting camera for a live feed of Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park with excellent video quality. Every Autumn polar bears gather in this region along the coast of the Hudson Bay and wait for the ice to become thick enough to go hunting. Churchill is now known as the “polar bear capital of the world”, but the first permanent settlement, Fort Churchill, was a trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company and strategically positioned where Hudson’s Bay meets the Churchill River as a route into the interior. Fort Churchill was named for John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and an ancestor of Winston Churchill.
Looking at the live feed in May, I haven’t spotted any polar bears, but there’s a gallery of snapshots that visitors to the site have taken.
Gimli Harbour, Gimli
This automatically-refreshing webcam offers views from a small harbour looking out onto Lake Winnipeg from Gimli, Manitoba. Gimli (Norse for “home of the gods”) was founded by settlers from Iceland who were granted land by the Canadian Government in 1875. They quickly proceeded to found an “almost sovereign nation” known as New Iceland with their own laws and system of government. I had never heard of this short story in Canada’s history! The town of just under 2000 residents is now home to the New Iceland Heritage Museum and the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba.
BBC featured the town and it’s unique history in Close-Up: Canada’s Little Iceland.
Stony Rapids Airport, Stony Rapids
Stony Rapids is small hamlet of several hundred residents in northern Saskatchewan. Residents rely heavily on its airport for transportation outside of the immediate area, although a dirt/gravel road was built in 2006 and an ice road is created in winter to reach other northern communities in the province. Locals face harsh winters, with an average temperature of -30 degrees C and average snowfall of 35 inches in January. The airport’s webcam provides views facing east, southeast, northwest, and southwest. All demonstrate the flat grasslands for which Saskatchewan is known.
Banff is a favourite destination of mine in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a relatively short drive from Calgary (about 130km or an hour and a half’s drive) and offers great food, accommodation, skiing, and hiking. The town was named for Banff in Scotland by Donald Smith, a Hudson’s Bay Company member and railroad investor, who named it after is hometown. Banff is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Banff National Park, the country’s first and busiest National Park, was founded in 1885 after two Canadian Pacific Railway workers “discovered” natural hot springs in the area (which had been known about by First Nations peoples). The springs were made into a protected area and marketed as a tourist destination.
Lake Louise Ski Resort, Lake Louise
Lake Louise offers amazing hotels (like this famous chateau!), hiking, a lovely little tea house that’s part of the way up a mountain, and beautiful views. The lake itself is spectacular. It’s hard to put into words it’s beauty; turquoise water surrounded by mountains and a perfect photo op. Lake Louise Ski Resort has provided this and a number of other webcams of the resort. The hamlet of Lake Louise was named for Queen Victoria’s daughter Louise.
This is also an impressive camera from a technology point of view. Not only does it smoothly rotate to provide a 360 degree image, but clicking on the webcam makes the image fullscreen on a new, completely interactive page with information about the ski resort, notable sites on the video as they pass by, maps, weather, and much more.