Research for Nothern Protector by Laurie Wood

The second week of July, I flew  north to Churchill, Manitoba, where I set my debut novel Northern Deception. Churchill is a small town on the west shore of Hudson Bay, roughly 68 miles from the Manitoba-Nunavut border. It sits on the edge of the boreal forest as the land goes north into tundra and the arctic.

It’s called the “Polar Bear Capitol of the World” for a reason. Canada has about 15,000 known polar bears in i’s population across its arctic expanse. It’s estimated that there are only about 25,000 polar bears left in the wild. Churchill sits right on the bear’s migration route out to the sea ice on Hudson Bay. Hundreds of bears come through the area/town during October/November each year on their way out to the ice where they’ll hunt ringed seals and store up the fat they need to survive back on land during the summer.

I went up to Churchill to experience it during July because my second book in my series “Heroes of the Tundra”, Northern Protector, is set during the summer. I wanted to see the landscape, the town, the wildlife, and meet the people who’d helped me with my earlier research for the first book.

The first thing we learned when we got there was that the first polar bear had been spotted two days before. The sea ice was broken up and the Bay was clear again. This meant the bears would be coming ashore to move north and northwest inland to survive on smaller prey, berries and even moldy seaweed thrown up by the tides. We got a quick lecture from our hotel operator on NOT leaving our vehicle while we were out exploring, and how to keep our heads on a swivel now that the bears had returned.

We enjoyed a ride out to the Wildlife Management Area in a certified Tundra Buggy. These huge vehicles are built on fire truck chassis, with specially made tires that leave as small a mark as possible on the unique and delicate environment out on the tundra. The lines on the Buggy are to show how tall a bear can be when it stands on its hind legs and reaches up to the windows.

Here’s some of the “road” we followed along the way…

The whole area is permafrost but with global warming, parts will thaw and create ponds and small lakes that are two to three feet deep. The water is clear and free of pollution. Small fish called sticklebacks live in it and arctic terns, ducks, gulls, and swans all feed on them. These water areas freeze up again come the fall. 


Our second day we went out on a boat tour to see the beluga whales. These whales are white when they become adults and are grey as babies and adolescents. They’re friendly and curious animals, somewhat like dolphins. They come in from Hudson Bay annually to the Churchill River where it’s protected and give birth to their calves. It takes twenty-two months for a beluga to gestate a calf. We were fascinated by the small pods of whales swimming beside our boat. They’d come close and check us out, and then leave us behind. This went on for a couple of hours until they got bored and left us to feed.


The VIA Rail Train Station is not only a functioning train station for passengers and grain/supply trains, but it’s a Parks Canada Site as well. Inside there’s a small museum of historical exhibits showing the interactions between Europeans and the Indian (or as Canadians call them, First Nations Peoples), as well as some nature exhibits of polar bears and caribou. Including a stuffed polar bear much taller than I am!

After a tour of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment and an interview with the Detachment Commander, my research trip was complete. 

I know being there will bring authenticity and new life to my upcoming release in June, 2020, Northern Protector. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of a sub-arctic, Canadian town

Reunions can be deadly.

After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.

Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.


About the Author:

Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.




3 thoughts on “Research for Nothern Protector by Laurie Wood

  1. Laurie, what an awesome trip! I’m sure your research will provide your fortunate readers with the sense of being in Churchill and experiencing the unique beauty of the area. Great photos!

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