My husband Brendan and I visited Newfoundland in 2007. As the ferry arrived from Cape Breton at Port Au Basque, I couldn't believe I was still in North America. The rocky terrain with the grazing sheep reminded me so much of Connemara in my homeland of Ireland. Then the people spoke with Irish Accents...I couldn't believe it.
Our destination was Fogo Island off the North Coast of Newfoundland. What a special place that is. The town of Tilting on Fogo, is the "Irish Catholic" town. Names like Foley, Burke, Greene, McGrath, Dwyer are everywhere. People speak with Irish accents and though many of them have never been off the island, they sang songs that I sang as a child...songs that had been handed down from their grandparents and great grandparents. The people who came to Fogo arrived way before the Irish Famine. They came to fish for cod....mostly from Waterford and Wexford. I certainly felt very welcome there and have maintained contact with some of the wonderful people we met on our visit
Labrador has two Innu Communities, Sheshatshiu & Natuashish. There are often negative things reported about these communities but the people are nice and if you like meeting and learing about aboriginal culture Labrador is a great place to do it!
Natuashish is a new community which was developed in 2002, prior to this, the second community was located in Davis Inlet.
Naskapi and Montagnais were names given to the Innu people by Europeans. The Montagnais live mainly in Sheshatshiu and the Naskapi live mainly in Natuashish.
Both of these groups of Innu stem from one culture, caribou hunters. The Innu were referred to as Indians by Europeans, but rarely referred to themselves as Indians. Recent reserve creation classifies the Innu under the Indian Act. However, Innu is preferred and commonly used name, which means “human being.”
Innu Language - Innu-aimun
Innu in both communities speak Innu-aimun, but have slightly different dialects. Despite these dialect differences, the two groups can communicate fluently.
The Importance of the Innu Way of Life
The Innu were traditionally nomadic, traveling the interior of Labrador and Quebec in the winter to hunt mostly for caribou, and migrating to the coast in the summer to fish. There is archeological evidence that Innu have been traveling the interior for thousands of years.
A permanent settlement was built at Sheshatshiu in the 1950’s. Davis Inlet was built in the 1960’s but the Innu from this community have recently chosen and relocated to Natuashish, on the mainland of Labrador.
The strength of the Innu culture has proven to be remarkable. In spite of the tremendous pressure to assimilate, they have maintained a strong cultural orientation toward traditional homelands, their nomadic roots and way of life.
The Innu are great story tellers. Many of the stories have been passed on for years and include narratives on how the world began, how the sun was born, and other worldly beliefs.
Continuing my line of tips on aboriginal culture in the Labrador region this tip gives more information on the Inuit of Labrador.
Inuit People of Labrador
Archaeological evidence suggests that there were many different groups of Inuit living in Northern Labrador about four thousand years ago.
The Inuit People are found in many other places around the world such as Soviet Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and areas in the Canadian Arctic. While all Inuit People speak related dialects of the Inuktitut language, they have distinct differences in technology, culture and social organization.
European and Canadian history named these peoples Eskimos (Eskimaux), a term which is still used in the United States of America. However, in Labrador, these people are referred to as Inuit People. Inuit history states that the Inuit of Labrador always referred to themselves as Inuit.
In 1752, Moravian Missionaries from Europe traveled to Labrador to set up missions or stations in the region. These missions had a strong influence on the history of Northern Labrador.
The Importance of People in the Inuit Culture
In the past, the Inuit of Labrador were led and guided by Elders. Elders are older persons in the Inuit population who are respected for their vast knowledge in particular areas. These Elders hold considerable powers of authority and influence within their communities.
The Language – Inukititut
Prior to Confederation, Inuktitut was the language of daily activity. Modernization, exposure to changing values and education in provincial schools led to a change in the language. Today, programs are emerging in the schools to teach students their native language in order to preserve the culture.
The Inuit are one with the land, the sea and it resources. Today, the importance of resources are re-emerging with development on the sea, in the forests and in the earth, with projects like Voisey’s Bay.
The Metis are the third aboriginal people in the Labrador region.
Metis people are those of a mixed decent. The Metis of Labrador are unique, having ancestors of Inuit, Innu, French, Scottish, and English origins. Primarily, the Metis of Labrador are descendants of European men and Inuit women.
It is a common misconception that the only true Metis in Canada are Prairie Metis. People often fail to realize that groups of Native and Settlers in Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Labrador are also Metis.
Metis people were not recognized as an aboriginal group in Canada until the 1982, repatriated and amended Canadian Constitution.
The Metis people of Labrador are situated in large numbers in the Lake Melville area and in southern Labrador, from Lake Melville down to Marys Harbour and some areas of the Straits.
Metis view themselves as members of the aboriginal community but feel that the current land boundary disputes are jeopardizing their aboriginal status in the community.
Like the Innu and Inuit, the Metis had to adopt the aboriginal way of life to survive on the land in Labrador. However, they incorporated both the practices and beliefs Labrador aboriginal groups and the Europeans, to adapt to the region in their own unique way.
Like many groups in Labrador, the Metis were season oriented, they fished and hunted seals and waterfowl in the summer months on the coast, while trapping and hunting in the forested bays and coves during the winter months.
Fur and fish prices dropped with the stock market crash of 1929, further weakening the unstable, often meager though highly meaningful, subsistence-based economy.
Some Inuit and M?tis families moved to Goose Bay either temporarily or permanently in 1941 when construction on the air base began. Many Metis families were looking for a new way of life.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador closed many small Metis settlements in the 1960?s and centralized people in villages which were believed to offer greater opportunities.
In Churchill Falls, Labrador you will find the world's largest underground power house and the one time largest hydro electric development built in the 70s. Today there are just a small number of larger hydroelectric developments.
It really is an engineering site to be seen, it today's dollars it would be a billions of dollars to rebuilt. The project supplies power to Quebec who in turn sells it in the eastern United States. Power to Labrador City and Happy Valley - Goose Bay also comes from the Churchill Falls project.
I have provided a link to the company web site where you can read a lot more on the technical aspects of this massive project!
There are free tours of the facility daily and its probably the best value for money you will ever find!
At 109 feet from the ground to the light itself, Point Amour lighthouse is the tallest in Atlantic Canada.
Today it is designated a Provincial Historic Site. The residential part of the lighthouse, now renovated and partially restored to the 1850s period, houses an extensive series of exhibits portraying the maritime history of the Labrador Straits.
The Point Amour station has figured prominently in the lives of southern Labradorians for well over a century. Today, it stands as a symbol of our maritime heritage and diverse history - a history which has always been intimately linked with the sea.
My parents actually own and operate a small craft shop at this historic site and I have spent a lot of time here. So I can also attest to the great walking trails in the area and the spectacular close up views of whales and ice bergs that are in the area all spring, summer and fall.
For military enthusiast, Labrador is also home to an impressive first class military training facilities with allied country participation from Italy, Holland, England and Germany.
The military base is very active during the summer season and getting a glimpse of the impressive fighter jets is quite easy.
Each summer there is an Allied Appreciation Week whereby you can actually tour around the planes and sit in the cockpit.
The base also has a military museum with an abundance of information on the history of 5 Wing.
There are many expatriats who have worked in 5 Wing over the years and I hope you enjoy this little tip on Labrador!
Icebergs are very common in Labrador during late spring and early summer. Originating in the high Arctic and Greenland, these mountains of floating ice are spectacular as they drift south on the cold Labrador Current to melt in the warmer waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Icebergs are often of enormous size and may reach a height of 90 to 150 m (about 300 to 500 ft) above the surface of the sea. Yet about 90 percent of the mass of an iceberg is beneath the surface, which presents potential problems for navigators.
Two points in Labrador that come to mind for great iceberg views are the lookout in St. Lewis, Labrador and at the Point Amour Lighthouse. That being said you are most likely going to see a number of these throughout coastal Labrador during the spring and early summer.
The Basque whalers of France and Spain enjoyed at least 50 years of prosperity off the Labrador coast hunting right whales and bowhead whales during the 16th century. Evidence of their presence has been found in Red Bay, Labrador, a haven 400 miles north of St. John's.
Between 1530 and 1600, Basque whalers from France and Spain launched at least 15 whaling ships and 600 men a season, capturing whales migrating the Strait of Belle Isle waters between the island of Newfoundland and the Labrador coast. Red Bay first came to the attention of the Basque in the 1520s, when they were fishing the waters nearby for cod. However, attention soon shifted to whales that migrated through the straits.
Today the community is home to a National Historic Site. There is an interpretation center on this history and tours where you can explore the archeological remains of these times.
Red Bay is a popular destination for bus tours however if your an independant traveler you will enjoy exploring these islands and history of the region.
Every year in August Charlottetown, Labrador is home to the Annual Shrimp Festival usually late August.
This is another great opportunity to try some local seafood and traditional dishes prepared in the community.
There is always a number of activities and a very worthwhile stop if explore the southeastern region of Labrador.
Hebron, Labrador was founded in 1831, and was inhabited until 1959. The massive Moravian Mission House, completed in 1836, is the most prominent structure and is still holding out against the elements, and this area is now protected as a National Historic Site.
Hebron is without a doubt one of the provinces more challenging destinations to access. You have a couple of options either via helicopter tour or boat tour and boat will be pricy but the dramatic and remote landscapes will make this a great trip for you.
Labrador is home to some of the world's great caribou herds and in the winter months they are common along the Trans - Labrador Highway.
These pictures were taken right on the road from a car. They are very relaxed and they take their time so enjoy it as they pass by. Getting this close to wildlife is a real treat in my opinion!
The Mealy Mountains rise dramatically from the shores of Lake Melville in southeastern Labrador. Reaching heights of over one kilometre, they are an island of arctic tundra surrounded by boreal forests and coastal seacapes. The mountains are home to some of Labrador's best wetlands and salmon habitat — and one of North America's finest wild rivers, the Eagle River, runs through them. The rugged Canadian Shield landscape is also a haven for a small resident caribou herd, along with moose, black bear, osprey, bald eagles and the endangered eastern population of the harlequin duck.
Today the mountains are relatively inaccessable unless you observe them by boat, from a distance in the Lake Melville region or if you fly over them. Flying from Cartwright to Happy Valley - Goose Bay you get a great view of these mountains.
There is a proposed road that will open up this area of Labrador and a National Park is being proposed called the Mealy Mountain National Park.
At different times in history this massive river was been renamed and depending on who you asked they will use their preferred named. One of the country's fathers of Confederation, Joey Smallwood has to take credit for changing it to its now official name of Churchill River after Sir Winston Churchill.
The original Innu name is Mishtashipu, meaning 'big river'.
Many great adventurers travel down the river, there are a few local residents who are very skilled at navigating this river. It is recommended you use a guide if you plan to canoe this river. It is approximately 8 days to canoe from the Churchill Falls area to the Lake Melville region.
The river really is massive at 856 kilometres, flowing east into the Atlantic ocean!
Labrador is very rich in natural resources and culture. Every year in June the town of Happy Valley - Goose Bay and the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce host the Voisey's Bay and Beyond tradeshow and conference.
It is an excellent time in June to visit the Happy Valley - Goose Bay region. There are plenty of networking and educational opportunities associated with Labrador's resources.
I have provided the conference web site in case you are going to be in the area during this time or interested in doing business in Labrador.
Highlights that I remember well are the gala dinner and the annual golf tournament!!
The Murray Premises is one place in St. John's I had always wondered about after trying a couple of...more
?? I don't know, my place is only 5 minutes away from here. Early in the 1920's Armstrong-Whitworth...more
112 Trans Canada Hwy, Gander, NF A1V1P8
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