The worldwide Augustana College experience

On the wilderness train to Hudson Bay

June 18

 We all arrived in different ships, but we are in the same boat now.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

A long journey fosters new friendships.

Jane and I spent four days and four nights traveling by rail from Winnipeg to Churchill to enjoy three days on Hudson Bay, which is still mostly frozen. The Hudson Bay train doesn’t carry many people to this remote location and even fewer this time of year.

Passengers on this train are a mixture of adventurous tourists like us and locals, mostly native peoples. When you are on a train for so long, so far away from home, you meet people whom you would not otherwise meet. We met Allen and Fran, motorcyclists from Australia, who work six months a year driving for a mining company and travel the world the rest of the year. We also met Gerald and Jen who live in Churchill. He is Métis (part native, part French), and he used to hunt and trap for a living, but now they own a bed and breakfast and run dog sleds. And we met a group of Mennonites, traveling to sing at the hospital in Churchill.
The train from Winnipeg to Churchill fostered numerous new friendships.
We had a great time with each. We enjoyed sharing several meals with our new Australian friends, talking about our common love of “off the best path” adventure. Gerald and Jen invited us to their dog yard in the tundra outside of Churchill, where we shared fresh fish and visited with them and their native friends, sharing our love of nature around a campfire. And we visited with our Mennonite friends in the dining car, each appreciating a strong commitment to faith and family.
Spending four days with strangers with whom we would usually not converse more than superficially teaches us a great lesson. Our tendency to spend time with like-minded people limits us from exploring the fuller range of the human experience. And our tendency to focus on what divides us, instead of looking at common interests and what unites us, can take the fun out of relationships. May we have the courage to have a greater focus on what unites us all, and take the risk to spend time with people who are far different from ourselves.

See also Jane Bahls’ Arctic Adventures blog.


Leave a Reply