So, what is Charlie’s boat doing on the beach? Well, it is not actually Charlie’s boat anymore. Charlie brought it down from Rankin Inlet, but it was John that first sailed on it. Wally owned it for a while, but now the Town does. Edgar moved it to the beach, but it was Keith that first brought it over to Canada, but everybody still calls it Charlie’s boat, even though its real name is the ‘Enterprise’. Hmm, that’s about as clear as its mud-coloured paint.
Where do we start? Charlie’s boat was not always Charlie’s boat. Built in 1947, the Enterprise began its life in Buckie Scotland. A fishing trawler, she is about twenty metres (55’) long with a draught of about three metres (8.5’), pretty deep for the shallow tidal zones of Hudson Bay.
As with many stories in the history of Hudson Bay, this one begins at Stromness in the Orkney Islands. She was still in the Orkneys when John White (also known as John from the Northern Store) joined a crew hired to deliver the Enterprise to Rankin Inlet, Northwest Territories (now Nunvaut). It had been purchased by a local businessman, Keith Sharp.
In May 1976, the Enterprise and John sailed for Canada. Along the way, they stopped in the Faeroe Islands, restocked their provisions at Reykjavik, Iceland and then headed for Greenland. They arrived at Hudson Strait to find it still jammed with pack ice and menacing bergs. As a result, they passed the time by sailing up the Greenland coast, past fjords, mountains and glaciers, stopping at several remote villages along the way; the experience of a lifetime.
After six weeks, they arrived in Rankin Inlet, back then not much bigger than Churchill is today. Upon arrival, Sharp threw a big party onboard the Enterprise, coincidentally, the party where John met his wife of twenty eight years, Martha Niakrok. Not a bad way to finish off a six week cruise.
For three months, the Enterprise carried freight between Rankin and Churchill. John returned to Scotland and applied for his immigration papers. He was back in Rankin Inlet and with Martha by November 1976.
The Enterprise for her part served as a freighter up in Rankin until Charles King came across her while working with Northern Transportation Corporation Ltd. (NTCL). Charles arrived in Churchill in 1977, transferred up here by NTCL. By that fall, he had bought the Enterprise from Keith Sharp. According to Charles, ‘It seemed like a good thing to do. I was in my twenties. Why not?’
Ice had taken its toll on the Enterprise by then, and it was towed down out of Rankin. However, by Whale Cove it was up and running and sailed it into Churchill harbour. Charles remembers that trip fondly, ‘I’ve never pumped so much water in my life.’
As with many projects, there were complications, Charles worked on it and lived in it for a few summers and as he says, ‘It was good times.’ The Enterprise ended up as an informal landmark along the Churchill River. No longer the Enterprise but now ‘Charlie’s Boat’.
Eventually, Charlie’s boat (or at least the hull) became Wally’s boat. Wally Daudrich, a local entrepreneur/guide, purchased it from Charles and intended to use it as an addition to his new restaurant.
This summer, Edgar Botelho spearheaded the Enterprise’s move to the beach. And then it was moved again. Just a little bit. And then there was a big discussion over where it would finally be placed and what colour it would be painted and that sort of thing. As usual there were a lot of different ideas, it wouldn’t be Churchill otherwise.
So, that is where it is today, nestled on the beach at Munck Park, (behind the Town Centre Complex), amidst a picnic table or two, likely at its final resting place as Churchill’s latest landmark. Although given the Enterprise’s history, I am not so sure.
The Enterprise has been many things for Churchill. It inspired John White to come to Canada and Charles King to bring it to Churchill.
Like most of us up here, some of its dreams have worked out and some haven’t,sometimes no one notices it and sometimes it is in the spotlight. Some people like it, some don’t and a lot of people probably pass by without knowing much about it. But it is what it is and that is really what makes it part of Churchill.
- prepared by Kelsey Eliasson from notes by John White