Labrador is the mainland part of the province of Newfoundland, and is separated from the Newfoundland island by a 15-kilometer (10 miles) wide strip of water at the top of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Despite having a population of only 28,000 people, Labrador covers over 293,000 square kilometers (113,000 square miles) and is three times the size of the island. Until fairly recently, the mainland has been virtually uninhabited save for a dozen tiny villages along the eastern seaboard and a few huddled around some of the coves and inlets. There is also an Air Force base at Goose Bay.
Labrador is one of the last great wilderness areas in the world. In recent years, however, more development has taken place, thanks to increased activity from a burgeoning natural resources industry. Large mining complexes producing half of the country’s iron ore have been set up near the Quebec border at Wabush and Labrador City. At Churchill Falls, a giant hydroelectric plant has been built, which helps power the eastern United States. Labrador’s other natural resources include wildlife and fish, which helps attract an increasing number of hunters and anglers.
The mainland of Newfoundland offers very little in the way of specific attractions. Hunting, fishing, skiing, and camping are all popular pursuits. The air is also fresh, crisp, and unpolluted. Labrador’s uniqueness, however, is its vast and prehistoric splendor that it projects.
Perhaps one place worth paying a specific visit is the Labrador Straits Museum. Located between L’Anse-au-Loup and Forteau along Route 510, it is open daily during the summers and boasts a sizable collection of fascinating artifacts depicting how life was lived on Labrador centuries ago.
Goose Bay is also a worthwhile visit. There, you’ll find the Labrador Heritage Museum located on the Air Force base. Its collection of photographs trace the history of Labrador and includes actual tools used by early trappers.
Organized hunting and fishing excursions are available at specific times of the year. These trips often involve airplane transportations into the interior. Labrador’s Department of Development and Tourism is the agency to contact for more information about these trips.
Labrador makes up the eastern fringe of the Canadian Shield, which itself is the oldest geological formation on earth. One could say Labrador looks its age; it appears the same as it did before there was animal life on the planet. The first humans to arrive in Labrador is believed to be about 9,000 years ago. The Indians and Inuit were around for thousands of years before the first Europeans – Basque whalers – arrived. They settled the Red Bay in the 16th century just across the strait from the northern tip of Newfoundland. Since then, new immigrants have been few and far. This may change in the years to come, as more people discover the unspoilt beauty of Labrador.
How to Get There
If you are coming from the island of Newfoundland, Air Labrador and Provincial Airlines fly to Goose Bay from St. John’s. Air Labrador also has flights from St. Anthony to several coastal communities as well as Goose Bay. If you are coming from Quebec, there is a train link from Sept Isles to Labrador City. Marine Atlantic operates a ferry service from Lewisporte, near Gander, to Goose Bay via Cartwright, Labrador, during the summer months. There is also a daily ferry from May to November between St. Barbe, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, and Blanc Sablon, Quebec, just across the border from L'Anse-au-Clair.
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
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