Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2012


Nova Scotia was good. Newfoundland was better. Now for Labrador, the most sparsely populated of the East coast provinces. Our plan is to drive up the East coast of Labrador then West across the Trans-Labrador Highway via Happy Valley - Goose Bay and Labrador City.

Labrador has an area of 293,000 square kilometers (a little more than the UK) and a population of just 27,000 people (but more than a million caribou). The 900 page Lonely Planet Guide to Canada devotes just 7 pages to Labrador!

Whilst in Newfoundland we had been trying to get tourist information about Labrador, the only thing we found was a 20 page guide to the Labrador Costal Drive printed in 2008 (I don't think much has changed.)

To get to Labrador you take the 28km ferry trip across the Labrador Straights from St. Barbe in Newfoundland to Blanc Sabion. Rather surprisingly the ferry is very cheap at less than £25.00 (UKP) for an 8 metre motorhome and two adults and you can reserve a place on-line with only a $Can 10.00 deposit!

Our crossing was smooth with only a slight swell, however we were told it can be be very rough. The first sight of Labrador is...blurred.

Our first stop in Labrador was the world famous L'Anse Amour Burial Site. This, as I expect you know, is the earliest funeral monument in the New World and is about 7500 years old.

Our second stop, a few hundred metres on, was the Point Amour Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, with commanding views from the top (127 steps).

The interior of the lighthouse and the technology of the light was well worth the $Can 3.00 admission. The 500 watt bulbs last about 60 days (only one is used, the other three are spares). The Fresnel lens was imported from France in the 1800's and was originally used with a whale oil lamp. The light is still in use today.

We spent our first night in Labrador at a whale themed lay-by on the outskirts of Red Bay, the end of the tarmac road for a while. Red Bay is also famous.

In the morning, whilst eating our breakfast with the hatch open we were visited by our first black bear. We closed the hatch. This was also the first time we have clambered from the rear to the front of Man rather than go outside.

Day two in Labrador saw us visiting the Red Bay National Historic Site that "interprets" (they are all called interpretive centres) the 16th-century Basque whaling galleon that was found on the seabed. However everybody was glued to the windows watching a minke whale, pursued by an orca (killer whale).

Although minke whales are (apparently) common in the bay, killer whales are not. Indeed some of the interpreters wanted to examine our photographs to prove to their sceptical colleagues that it was indeed an orca. They say it was.

I'm sure you know which is which?