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Gabriola artist fulfills lifelong dream of photographing polar bears at Hudson Bay

Corinne Flaws presents polar bear-themed photography and painting exhibit ‘The Longest Wait’
Corinne Flaws presents her polar bear-themed photography and painting exhibition The Longest Wait at the Gabriola Medical Clinic gallery. (Photo courtesy Corinne Flaws)

Gabriola artist Corinne Flaws recently fulfilled a life-long ambition to go polar bear watching in Churchill, Man. and she’s sharing what she saw in her latest exhibition.

From now until Feb. 25, Flaws presents The Longest Wait at the Gabriola Medical Clinic gallery. The exhibit features photos taken during her visit to Churchill in November as well as paintings based on some of those photos.

The title refers to both the polar bears waiting for ice floes to come in so they can hunt seals in Hudson Bay and Flaws’s long wait for the opportunity to see the bears in person.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do all my life,” Flaws said. “I’ve been a polar bear freak for as long as I can remember.”

As a child growing up outside Winnipeg she would see polar bears and cubs at the zoo. Over the years she’s amassed a collection of polar bear-themed paraphernalia like dishes and clothing. This year she even hung stuffed polar bears on her Christmas tree instead of ornaments.

Flaws was finally presented with the chance to see the polar bears herself when a friend who booked a trip was sidelined due to injury and she went in his place.

“It was just amazing,” she said. “We got to see polar bears every day.”

Most of the time Flaws said she and her group were keeping about 500 feet away from the bears, but on a couple occasions the bears came within 10 feet of them.

“They ended up coming right up behind our van so I had gotten into the van and I was just sort of hanging out the window taking pictures,” Flaws said. “It was amazing.”

Even though she’s crossed the Churchill polar bears off her bucket list, Flaws said she isn’t done with them.

“I thought it was once-in-a-lifetime,” she said. “But now I’ve been there and I want to go again.”

WHAT’S ON … The Longest Wait at the Gabriola Medical Clinic gallery, 695 Church St., from now until Feb. 25.

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