Churchill Manitoba is a fascinating little town of about 800 residents in Canada’s sub-arctic region about a million miles from anywhere. It’s not possible to drive to Churchill. You fly or take a really long train ride from Winnipeg, or arrive by boat in the warm weather months when Hudson Bay is not frozen.
In a place so small and so remote, a visitor naturally wonders if they’ll be able to find a good place to eat.
Never fear. One of four good restaurants in little Churchill, Gypsy’s began life as a good local bakery by a guy who came to town working as a stevedore – someone who loads and unloads ocean-going vessels. It’s like a longshoreman, but on the great Hudson Bay, they are called steamadors.
I never learned this guy’s real name. Because he wore an earring, everyone just called him Gypsy. About 20 years ago, Gypsy got tired of the cold and snow and early mornings and polar bears, so he sold the business to a Portuguese family named da Silva.
Where to Eat in Churchill Manitoba
Gypsy’s is still the best place in Churchill, heck anywhere in Canada, for pastries and a cup of coffee. It’s the place where the local mushers come in the morning for their coffee and local gossip. And it’s where travelers from around the world come for a hearty meal before and after a day on the tundra watching polar bears or in a kayak playing with beluga whales.
During polar bear season in Churchill, which is about June to November, the da Silvas work almost 20 hours a day, supported by a staff of 19. When the freeze-up happens on Hudson Bay and the polar bears head out on the ice in search of ringed seals for lunch, the restaurant is not so busy.
That’s when Helen and her family take off to the Caribbean or to visit their family in Portugal for two months or more. By what I witnesses of their work ethic and good product, they are truly deserving of a good vacation.
There’s nothing really fancy about Gypsy’s, although the wine list is quite impressive for this remote part of the world. Their soups, sandwiches and entrees are all homemade, as are the pastries and everything else. The da Silva’s Portuguese heritage can be tasted in the piri hot sauce mixed into the tuna sandwiches, and also in the Chorizo sandwiches.
The freight train, which is the only way for goods to arrive in Churchill, comes just once or twice a week, depending on the season. Talk about a challenge for planning your menu and ordering supplies!
But the food is good at Gypsy’s, the people are friendly and the bathrooms clean – what else can you ask for in this or any other part of the world.