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Labrador

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Labrador is 'The Big Land'--the mainland portion of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Despite occupying an area larger than the island of Newfoundland itself, Labrador has a population of just under 30,000. The region covers the eastern coast of mainland Canada from the Strait of Belle Isle to the southeast, to the eastern half of the Labrador Peninsula that lies by Ungava Bay in the north, as well as a portion of interior land to the west. It shares a border with the northern portion of the province of Quebec, although the border itself is still a contentious issue between Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec.

Regions[edit]

  • Southeastern Labrador -- home to the historic Basque whaling station at Red Bay, as well as a large number of outport communities dotting the historic Labrador coast.
  • Central Labrador -- dominated by the major air force community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a former NATO base, central Labrador is also home to the largely unpopulated interior lands, called by some the last unspoiled land in North America, although this claim can be disputed.
  • Western Labrador -- home to Churchill Falls, Labrador City, and Wabush, as well as the enormous Smallwood Reservoir.
  • Northern Labrador (Nunatsiavut) -- an area self-governed by the Inuit of Labrador as of 2005, over 72,000 square kilometres of land, including the area north of Nain and a portion of the Atlantic coast to the south.

Cities[edit]

Within Labrador, one can hardly speak of cities in the usual sense. Here's a list of the important communities, historically and presently:

Other destinations[edit]

Understand[edit]

Labrador is home to the largest herds of Caribou in the world, and is teeming with the kind of abundant wildlife often associated with the northern portion of Canada. Home to a typically diverse population of Euro-Canadians and Natives (Inuit, Innu, Metis), Labrador is a site of first contact between peoples--it is often considered to be Markland, one of the locations visited by Leif Ericson in the 11th Century. Despite its rich history and resources, the region and the people of Labrador are not wealthy. The region has been historically isolated, with roads such as the Trans-Labrador Highway being recent projects. In many ways, the relationship between Labrador and its historical 'parent,' Newfoundland, has been a microcosm of the relationship between the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and the government of Canada--Labrador often feels ignored and exploited by the island government in Newfoundland. Nonetheless, like Newfoundland, Labrador is culturally rich and is an interesting destination for tourists that is off-the-beaten path.

A note of caution: While often interesting to visit, many Labrador Native communities do not encourage tourist 'invasions'. Respect the wishes of the local culture as you would in any other place.

Talk[edit]

It is worth noting that the languages of Native peoples are still widely spoken as first languages for much of the Native population. English is the main language of most people, and even if not, majority of the people can speak it to some degree.

Get in[edit]

From the south travel to Labrador is by ferry from Newfoundland to Blanc Sablon Quebec. It is then approx 5 kilometres east to the Labrador border. Apparently the ferry may not be running during the winter, depending on conditions in the Belle Isle strait.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Labrador City: tours of massive iron mines can be taken on Sundays and Tuesdays, they must be booked in advance with the Labrador West tourist office.

Churchill: Only one thing to do here; take a tour of one of the largest dams in Canada. Info and reservations can be obtained by calling a tourist liason in Churchill at 709 925 3335.

Happy Valley/Goose Bay: Muskrat falls just outside of town on the Trans Labrador Highway is impressive and a must see. The goose bay airport houses a NATO training base where German airmen can be seen practicing air manuevers in fighter jets. Northwest river a town to the north, houses a population of Inuit as well as a mueseum that chronicles the aboriginal history in the area.

Southern Labrador: There exists one of North America's oldest burial sites. Red Bay is a village at an old Basque whaling station. The paved road ends here. The scenery along this road is beautiful yet harsh enough to remind the traveller that those who live here are toughened by the elements that shape their existence every day. The coastline is beautiful with distant mountains and a pseudo tundra as the backdrop.

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Labrador City: McDonalds, Marybrown's(fried chicken), an assortment of family owned restaurants ranging in basic fast food fare to family style hotel/restaurants.

Churchill: Well stocked market and the Midway Restaurant serving decent breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as fastfood fare.

Happy Valley/Goose Bay: KFC, BurgerKing, A&W, MaryBrown's, Pizza Delight, as well as a surprisingly wide selection of bars grills and family owned stands. There is a co-op market as well as a second supermarket offering surprsingly fresh produce, great cuts of meat, and standard pre-prepared food. These two markets are as good as any supermarket found in the more "civilized" southern Canada.

Towns other than these have less options, usually consisting of a few bars and cornerstores and maybe a bakery.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Roadhouses are the most common, don't expect to be treated to winetasting with a pianist playing classical music in the background. You will find a stunning array of hard liquors, molson or Labatt beer, and plenty of country music at these bars.

Stay safe[edit]

Make sure to bring a full gas tank as it is possible that the distances may be too great for lower kmpg/mpg cars. Bring a basic first aid kit as a hospital is usually over a hundred km/miles away if not hundreds. Bring duct tape for repairs on loose parts, bumpers, etc,. Marine epoxy is essential as you will likely experiences punctures in gas tanks and fuel lines from rocks especially in lower riding cars.

Road conditions do vary from paved in towns to gravel roads where highway speeds are possible, to washboarded/rocky roads that can literally shake a car apart or send it into a ditch. ALWAYS drive at a safe speed, there is no need to drive at the speeds that the locals do (100-110 Km/60-70 MPH), it is always better to make it late than not at all. Also watch out for moose, caribou, porcupine as they all obviously can disable your cars in varying ways.

Get out[edit]


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