Impressions of Labrador

A guest post by Lisa Moore

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In the sand, bear paws.

Noses of the Zodiacs scrudging into the sand. Haul. Wet ropes, lean back, heels sliding on wet pebbles, tug the Zodiac up snug.  Slap down the bright yellow wooden step. Swinging legs over the side, walking poles, knapsack, step. Step on the block. Step into the water and feel the tug on your rubber boot. Water rushing up over the top of the wooden step, swirling  away in all directions, smooth pebbles tumbling end over end, everything stirred up underfoot. Stab the walking stick, lapping kelp, up, up, on the beach. Bright GoreTex jackets, red, aqua, mosquito net hats, hiss of radios, MJ, MJ, Jason. Jason, MJ.

The resettled Moravian/Inuit community of Ramah—bear paw. Some of them still filled with water. Claw scrapes on stone. The bear had just rambled through. Haunch and rippling muscle/chunks of hunger and force, but gone. The print a cup surging with water, gleaming in the sun.

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Partridge eggs. Hold back the alder branches. Can you see them? Speckled. See them? I can’t see them. There. The mother just flew. Where? There, the mother.

On the ridge overlooking the beach the bear monitors are just fluorescent orange flecks on the grey stone. They were far away but I could hear them checking in with each other on the radios.

The fjord last night. But impossible to capture the intensity, the depth. Cracks running through the mountains, the black dykes, old molten lava, rust, caramel, cream, brown, black, white splotches of snow, the green like an old rug worn in places, the light slicing through. Light slashing up the mountains. Clouds bunched like grapes, like marbles, like bowling balls. Still blue up there. Blue as a GoreTex jacket. I wish you could see this. I miss you. How can I tell you about this? You would love this. There was no wind. It was still. A black bear just a dot.  A moving dot on skyward straining granite. 

I felt tears lifting up inside me. Like the water rushing around the yellow block by the Zodiac, swirling all directions around my rubber boot, and tugging on my ankles, my leg, this answer in my body to beauty all mingled up and confused with you would love this and I miss you and my god, my god, what is this, the tears are disorienting, salt water—what is this? This is wordless. This is big. This is still. This is forever. This is infinity. This is a fork in the fjord. This is which way do we go? Do we ever go back? Can one go back from this? This is every path ever taken. Never taken. This is giving up, giving over. This is smallness. This is a blasting apart of the inner things. This is we are together, aren’t we? We are in this together. This is missing you and wishing you could see. This is a bunch of people on a deck, on all the decks, nosing in, deep and deeper. This is nowhere. This is the only place. 

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The rocks are cinema and the light is unrequited. The light is, don’t mess with me. The light is, you have never seen anything like this light. You will never see it again. Okay, this is vast. The light is a love affair. The light is going. The light is pink now. The light makes creases and folds in the mountains. The light fingers through. The lit up caves and the lit up faces of the people on the deck. The light is a last hurrah. The pink of inner things. The pink of new things, like the cry of a grandchild, like don’t stop, please don’t stop. This is the pink of the fresh salmon pulled from the water this afternoon and cut up with a pocket knife, and dip/flicked in the ocean on the side of the Zodiac and we ate in raw like religion, like a gift.

On the beach this morning Michelle told us about sod houses. The windows were made of seal intestine, translucent. Just imagine in a snowstorm. Just imagine a child born. The frame might have been wood or whale bone. This is so long ago. The ghosts are translucent. The ghosts are windows made of brass. They sang in four voices. They covered houses in cured skins, and then sods, and when there was a fall of snow, the sod house was very warm. 

The floor of the house might have been slate or wood. Now it has collapsed and grasses overgrown. Let’s not walk over it. Let’s leave it alone. There would have been a cold trap built in the entrance. A depression in the earth into which the cold would sink. But keep your eyes on the water, because bears can approach from there. Swimming sometimes as much as eight miles. Keep your eyes on the land. Be alert. I wish you could have seen. What a fjord that was last night. The way the light slashed across the uppermost blade of mountain. The way it faded. Or lasted. Went dark. Bellowed like a trumpet in the dining room. Looked all sultry and come thither, crooked its finger, said the truth. Flipped a coin, told a joke; the light was a pole dancer a circus, a dream with monsters and empty streets and everything was wet. Everything it touched turned to gold.

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I was talking with another writer on the deck about how hard it is to write. We laughed about ‘hard’ work. Because it isn’t coal mining after all. It’s pure pleasure. It is one-hundred voltage thrill. But it is hard. That’s what we said. And we said of course it wasn’t hard. Nobody twisting your arm to write. What is the difference between intense pleasure and pain. What is the difference between desire and discipline? If we follow this fjord forever where will we end up.

In the sod houses they had soap stone lamps with a wick made of woven beach grass burning in seal oil. The idea of that tiny flame, the halo it must throw out, in the midst of these  mountains,standing up in the dark. I hear Maria, on the radio, say she has spotted a white beluga. Mathew James, Mathew James, Maria, she says. And he answers: Maria, Maria, Mathew James. The hiss and clutches of sound bursting out of the radios. Maria, Mathew James. It is still very early in the morning.

The truth is I got up at five to write. I stumbled out onto the deck, almost blinded by the morning sun. Did it ever go to bed? Did it get tiny like that little flame in a sod hut, maybe a hundred and fifty years ago, glowing through the intestine of a seal? A line of radiant mist on the horizon. Pure white, where it touched the earth. Burning upward. On the hill in Ramah this morning, a little graveyard. Grey stone, half devoured by the grass, sunken, almost gone, splotches of orange lichen and the dates softened by the rain. It’s only ten thirty in the morning, but I feel like I have experienced a century since that mist on the deck burned away. I cannot wait to see you. I have a lot to tell.    

The Labrador Revelation

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Margaret Atwood scans the coast of Labrador, looking for birds and bears

What does Margaret Atwood know about Labrador that the rest of us should?

Having visited The Big Land several times aboard Adventure Canada voyages, the author of The Labrador Fiasco has had the unusual experience of having seen this extraordinary region of Canada first hand. With her keen eyes, the veteran birder and traveller is a valued addition to the wildlife-spotting team aboard the Ocean Endeavour.

Many Canadians, if they think of Labrador at all, think of it as a backwater of the already-distant province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

But Atwood and her fellow voyagers know that Labrador has a unique culture and diverse history all its own. Numerous First Peoples made their homes here in a rich history dating back thousands of years. Thule, Maritime Archaic, and paleoeskimo artifacts abound. Ramah chert from this ‘remote’ region was traded widely across eastern North America. Today, the region is home to Inuit, concentrated on the coastal region, with Innu communities at Sheshatshiu and Davis Inlet.

Viking explorers reached these shores, which they called Markland, by 1000 AD. They were the first of the European visitors. Red Bay, Canada’s newest UNESCO world heritage site, was home to a Basque whaling station through the 1500s that comprised the New World’s first export industry.

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Adventure Canada geologist David Bathe and explorer Milbry Polk in Red Bay

Portuguese, Spaniards, English and French all plied the Labrador Sea for whale and fish. Later came Moravian missionaries from Germany, whose abandoned outposts now dot the coast. The resettlement of the people of Hebron and other missions is a painful chapter in Labrador history. Medical missionary Wilfrid Grenfell’s humanitarian work drew volunteers from around the world, and sent many Labradorians for training abroad.

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Remains of the abandoned Moravian mission at Hebron, Labrador

Today’s visitors to the Labrador coast are often shocked to realize the scale of Labrador: 294,330 sq km, more than twice the area of Newfoundland. And much of that is rugged mountain coastline, where the human spirit is humbled by geography rendered sublime.

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The Ocean Endeavour in Eclipse Harbour, Nunatsiavut, Labrador

A mere one percent of Labrador is developed. The region’s largest city has fewer than 10,000 citizens. There are few roads in the south, and none in the north.

Ships and boats are still the best way—often the only way—to visit the extraordinary locations that dot the virtually unpopulated coastline along the Labrador Sea.

Yet the biggest thing about The Big Land is the people. Hardy, thoughtful, hard-working, and welcoming, the people of Nunatsiavut are survivors—there are many hard stories here—whose hardship has not hardened their hearts.

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Brass band welcome, Nain, Labrador

From the brass band playing from the wharf in Nain, to the bear guard scanning the landscape of Nachvak Fiord, to the culturalist revisiting her abandoned home at Hebron, to the grandfather welcoming his toddler granddaughter from Toronto, the people of the Labrador coast show themselves at every turn to be the most welcoming of hosts.

Among a myriad of surprises and aha! moments, that’s the Labrador revelation. Perhaps that’s what keeps travellers like Ms. Atwood coming back time and again.

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Exploring Torngat Mountains National Park by Zodiac

Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Adventure Canada present , June 29-July 11, 2016.

All photographs by David Newland.

The Floating Book Club

author-coversAcclaimed publisher, editor, and storyteller Doug Gibson—whose authors have won every major book award in Canada—will lead our first-ever onboard Book Club, featuring bestselling authors Terry Fallis and Kathleen Winter.

Kathleen Winter will guide readers through her groundbreaking novel, Annabel. Set in coastal Labrador, Annabel was a #1 Canadian bestseller, and a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Terry Fallis will present the first of his four national bestselling books. His hilarious debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the 2011 Canada Reads competition. A CBC TV miniseries based on the book aired in January 2014.

In addition to his literary leadership, Doug Gibson will perform an exclusive showing of his one-man play, Stories About Storytellers, and offer his unique editor’s insights into the work of Alice Munro.

Join the Floating Book Club on our Newfoundland and Wild Labrador voyage, July 5-17, 2015.

Meet Chief Mi’sel Joe

CHIEF MISEL JOEMi’sel Joe was born in Miawpukek in 1947 to a family with strong ties to the community. Both his grandfather and uncle have held the office of hereditary Saqamaw—a high ranking spiritual leader traditionally tasked with spiritual and cultural leadership. His great great uncle, Morris Lewis, was the first appointed Chief in Newfoundland by the Grand Chief in Mi’kmaq territory. Mi’sel was educated in the Mi’kmaq ways and traditions, and at sixteen was given the alternative to either leave the reservation to seek employment, or travel to a neighbouring community to attend secondary school. He chose the former.

During his years away from the community, Mi’sel travelled widely and cut his teeth on a wide variety of professions. He worked in farms and factories, in construction and on railroads. He drove trucks and operated heavy machinery. He worked on fishing boats and in mines underground, and acted as labour foreman. But years passed, and in 1973 he moved back to Miawpukek.

Since then, Mi’sel has been been involved in First Nations Politics, initially as a councillor. After the death of his uncle, Chief William Joe, in 1982, Mi’sel became Saqamaw and Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi’kmaq Grand Council. He is currently in his sixth consecutive two-year term as Administrative Chief for the nation, and is recognized provincially, nationally, and internationally as a spiritual leader and healer, ambassador of his people. He has presented on native medicines and traditional healing practices at international medical conferences and hosted the 1996 International Healing Conference at Miawpukek. He is on the board of Parks Canada, a mentor of the Trudeau Foundation, a member of the First Nations Trust Fund, and sits on the Executive Council of the Atlantic Policy Congress. In 2004, Mi’sel was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in recognition of his contribution to the economic, social, and political development of the Mi’kmaq people of the province.

Adventure Canada is proud to be setting sail in 2015 with Chief Mi’sel Joe on our Newfoundland & Wild Labrador expedition. This stunning itinerary departs from Saint-Pierre, France, and travels up the west coast of Newfoundland before crossing into the wilds of Labrador. As we move north, Chief Mi’sel Joe will be on hand as a member of our elite team of resource specialists, helping to share his wealth of knowledge and experience in—as well as his lifelong love for—the region. We are also thrilled to be stopping in Miawpukek (Conne River) on our 2015 Newfoundland Circumnavigation expedition, where we look forward to meeting with the community and sharing stories. Just one more way Adventure Canada is helping to spread culture, knowledge, and community.

Chief Mi’sel Joe will be delivering the 2015 Whipper Lecture on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at the Canadian Canoe Museum (in partnership with Adventure Canada) in Peterborough, ON. Join us for an evening that promises to be enlightening and entertaining—free to all museum members, and $10 for non-members. The lecture includes a free guided tour, starting at 5:30PM. RSVP to 705-748-9153 or info@canoemuseum.ca for more information.

For more information about our Newfoundland & Wild Labrador itinerary, click here!

The Colour of Memory

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We were blessed this week at Adventure Canada HQ to receive an email from Gilles Matte, a passenger on our recent Greenland & Wild Labrador expedition. Mr. Matte lives in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, outside Quebec city, where he works as an architect. In addition to his trade, however, he is a singularly talented illustrator and watercolourist—he has worked to produce handsome tomes documenting old Quebec, the oldest roadway in Canada, and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. He is no stranger to capturing scenes of grandeur and contemplation, and we are proud to call him our friend.

With Mr. Matte’s generous permission, we are proud to present a selection of sketches and impressions from Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland.

Gilles, thank you for sharing your gift with us.

—Your friends at Adventure Canada

My First Adventure

I grew up canoeing in Algonquin Park. I’m used to sleeping under the stars and battling hordes of insects; I’m no stranger to the raw power of a thunderstorm or the perfect moments of stillness at the day’s end. I have shot rapids and portaged thousands of kilometres with a boat on my head and a song on my lips; I have fished for my supper and stared down moose in the deepest of swamps.

But nothing prepared me for Greenland and Labrador.

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Nothing prepared me for the Greenlandic fjords, their grey-blue waters and ice-capped, soaring peaks that slipped in and out of low wisps of cloud. Nothing prepared me for the playful seal that dogged our progress, nor the profound calm as winter approached the continent.

Davis Strait

Nothing prepared me for crossing the Davis Strait in storm-tossed seas; desperately clinging to my bunk (and my sanity) and waiting for my Scopolomine patches to kick in. And then, once they did: screaming into the wind from the observation deck, laughing as the bow of the Sea Adventurer smashed through the waves, hurling spray hundreds of feet into the air. The sound was like a thunderclap.

Torngat

Nothing prepared me for the glasslike waters and towering summits of the Torngat Mountains, the panoply of colour and might that lay quiet and daunting on the Labrador coast. The sunshine that day was like something out of a fairy tale. Nothing prepared me for our brush with the polar bear that morning, watching agape as he tore great hunks of flesh from a seal carcass.

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Nothing prepared me for driving a Zodiac in gale-force winds during our arrival at Hebron, the abandoned Moravian mission. The waves crashed over me in salty tumult, my hands numb inside the bricklayer’s gloves I’d borrowed off a friend. But we made it. I made it.

Nothing prepared me for the thrill of diving into the 3°C waters off Labrador’s coast, waters deemed too warm by our Expedition Leader, who compensated for this setback by tossing a few trays of ice cubes into the drink.

Polar swim

Kiddos, Nain

Nothing prepared me for the smiling faces of the children in Nain, the celebration at the school as we descended on the community en masse and equipped them with the gear for two complete hockey teams. They followed us back down to the docks, laughing and singing. Some of them hopped in our Zodiacs and rode around the harbour, hooting and hollering.

Nothing prepared me for the soft grass and undulating dunes of Byron Bay, or the majestic shoreline of Castle Island, or the perfect moments on deck when the sunrise would play against the ship just so. Nothing prepared me for the northern lights that pulled us from our bunks late one night, to shiver in raincoats and pyjamas and look up in wonder.

Henley Harbour

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Nothing prepared me for the warm welcome at Conche, the steam rising from our soaked overclothes as we inhaled plates of the freshest cod in Canada. As we ate elbow-to-elbow at tables of grinning Newfoundlanders beneath garlands of crepe paper, the guitar picked up, and then the accordion, and then someone started to dance. Black clouds and wind muttered and grumbled outside.

Fogo bell

Nothing prepared me for the unsurpassed hospitality of the town of Fogo, where I played a hundred-and-fifty-year-old pump organ, climbed into the belfry of a church, shouted from one of the corners of the flat earth, and ran along a coastline wild and heedless of man and all the more perfect for it.

Nothing prepared me for the stillness that would take hold of our hearts on the last morning as the Sea Adventurer made her way up the narrows and into St. John’s harbour, nor the song that would waft across the breeze.

St. John's

Nothing prepared me for the hundred-odd strangers who had come together in two short weeks to share in something marvellous, something inexplicable, something powerful.

I have been searching for a long time for a way to bring together my love for the wilderness with my love of the written word, and with Adventure Canada I have done just that. I would like to thank everyone aboard Greenland & Wild Labrador 2014 for making me feel welcome, for trusting in the new guy (my Zodiac was always the cool Zodiac, thank you), for experiencing this sublime corner of the world with me. There is no shortage of wonder to be sought, and the adventure is just beginning.

Saglek

—Mike Strizic

Conche selfie

Coolest Places on Earth features Adventure Canada

This amazing clip of footage from Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador itineraries is featured prominently in the travel show The Coolest Places On Earth, now playing on TV stations throughout the US.

Part of a half-hour episode devoted to Eastern and Central Canada, the clip highlights some of the amazing experiences passengers can look forward to aboard Adventure Canada’s East Coast itineraries.

We’re particularly pleased to be included at this time, as 2014 marks our 20th anniversary of operations in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a place we believe really is one of the coolest places on Earth!

Coolest Places Logo

 

 

Visit Newfoundland and Labrador with Adventure Canada on our “Greenland and Wild Labrador” trip, September 11-24, 2014.

9 things you didn’t know about Newfoundland and Labrador

Battle Harbour, Labrador - Photo by John Chambers

Battle Harbour, Labrador – Photo by John Chambers

As of the 2014 season, Adventure Canada has been operating in Newfoundland and Labrador for twenty years. Over that time, we’ve learned to appreciate some of the unique, and lesser-known features of Canada’s easternmost province. Here are a few.

1. The Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland, is one of the most economically successful First Nations in Canada. This Mi’kmaw community places a high value on traditional values, including canoe-building and handicrafts.

2. Gros Morne National Park helped change our understanding of the world. The park’s outstanding geology includes visible protrusions of the Earth’s mantle, and crust, which led to insights into tectonic plate theory and continental drift.

3. L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland is the site of the only authenticated Norse settlement on the North American mainland. Now a National Historic Site, the location was discovered by closely studying the text of ancient Viking sagas.

4. Red Bay, Labrador, is Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. For several decades in the 1500s Red Bay was home to a thriving whaling station, seasonally run by Basques whalers. Multiple shipwrecks from the era lie in the harbour.

5. Battle Harbour, Labrador preserves a classic cod fishing station, with superbly kept wharves, warehouses, ‘flakes’ (drying racks), a working general store, church and houses. Battle Harbour is a living museum of the traditional salt cod industry.

6. Ever wonder what the Wonderstrands were? Two pristine sandy stretches of 20km and 25km along the eastern shore of Labrador are the leading contenders for the phenomenal beaches mentioned by Norse explorers.

7. Rigolet, on the Labrador coast, has a unique place in literature: a fictional, future version of the hamlet (called Rigo), appears in the novel The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. In our time, the area is a haven for minke and humpback whales.

8. The ghost settlement of Okak, Labrador straddles the tree line – and two cultures as well. The site was home to a Moravian mission from 1776 to 1919, and at its heyday was the centre of a large Labrador Inuit presence in the area.

9. Torngat Mountains National Park in Nunatsiavut, the semi-autonomous Inuit region of northern Labrador, contains Canada’s highest peaks east of the Rockies, framing dramatic fiords. The Torngats teem with wildlife, including polar bears and caribou.

Visit Newfoundland and Labrador on these Adventure Canada trips:

Newfoundland and Wild Labrador, June 29-July 12, 2014
Greenland and Wild Labrador, September 11-24, 2014

Inspired by wilderness: Scott Forsyth

Scott Forsyth

Inspired by wilderness – including scenes glimpsed aboard his trips with Adventure Canada – photographic artist Scott Forsyth is turning heads with his stunning images.

Scott was named Alberta’s 2014 Photographic Artist of the Year at the recent Professional Photographer’s Association Awards Gala. He also won Best in Class award for both Fine Art and Pictorial photographic work.

Ken Murphy of Calgary, Alberta is Scott’s newest fan. Ken bought raffle tickets in support of the Arctic Eider Society at our Calgary screening of People of a Feather, and went home with a beautiful framed print, generously donated by Scott. The image was taken on an Adventure Canada trip to Labrador.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of Scott’s prints will go to Royal Canadian Geographic Society and to Nature Conservancy of Canada.

If you’re heading to NYC you can catch Scott’s work in the upcoming exhibit Sensorial Perspectives at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea – or click through to view gorgeous full-colour images on the gallery’s website. Congratulations Scott!

Nature's Spectacle Giclee Print 24" x 34

Nature’s Spectacle
Giclee Print
24″ x 34

Tamblyn takes up Residency

This just in from Ian Tamblyn, pioneering musician and AC expedition team member:

IanTambltnI have been appointed as artist in residence at Carleton University‘s Faculty of Music for the academic year 2014- 15. This appointment will include a songwriting course during the academic year as well as concerts, production and recording seminars and sessions on music for film and drama. The appointment begins July 1, 2014.

I am currently working on the last album of the four coast project, The Labrador. Many of the songs for this album have been written on Adventure Canada trips. The release date for this CD is set for April 6th with a CD release concert at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec. Other concerts will follow.

Please look at the tour section of my website www.tamblyn.com. A four CD box set will be offered in May.

I will be artist in residence at Torngat Mountains National Park this summer from July 26 to August 3. I will be working with youth who are participating in the camp, conducting several creative writing and songwriting projects.

I have recently released a CD called Connected, a collection of Inuit student songs. These songs were written by the students while on the Students on Ice expedition last summer. You may hear some of these songs soon on CBC radio.

In late December I attended the premier of a wonderful film set on Cape Hope Island on the eastern shore of James Bay. The film is called Nunaaluk: A forgotten story, directed by Louise Abbott and produced by the Cree Outfitting and Tourist Association. I wrote the music for the film. For those who have seen People of the Feather, it is a wonderful companion piece.

(Fellow AC musician) Daniel Payne will be coming to Chelsea Quebec to work on my album. For those interested in seeing Daniel he will be doing a concert January 30th at Paddy Bolland’s in the Bytown Market, Ottawa, January 30, at 7:30 p.m.

Join Ian on the following adventures in 2014:
Northwest Passage, East to West Aug. 12, 2014 – Aug. 28, 2014
Antarctica Oct. 17, 2014 – Nov. 6, 2014

Follow the bear… to great adventures

BrochureThere’s so much to look forward to when the snow is all around! After all, the light is already returning on the horizon, and that means before long, the summer will be upon us, and we’ll be travelling north once more.

Just in time to inspire your summertime dreams, our new Expeditions 2014 brochure has hit the mail. Many AC travellers tell us they look forward to receiving their new catalogue, poring over the destinations and planning their future trips.

We feel this year’s new brochure is our very best yet, both in appearance, and in the trips it covers: Newfoundland Circumnavigation, Sable Island I, Sable Island II, Newfoundland and Wild Labrador, Arctic Safari, Arctic Explorer, Northwest Passage East to West, Northwest Passage West to East, Greenland and Wild Labrador, and Antarctica.

We’ve got so much to be proud of in 2014. We’re celebrating twenty years of operating in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s wild east coast. We’re visiting Antarctica on the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary 1914 Endurance expedition. And for the first time ever, we’ll visit remote and mystical Sable Island, Nova Scotia, home of the world-famous herd of wild horses, and the world’s largest grey seal colony.

Whatever inspires your travel fantasies, we hope to see you on an adventure in this amazing year to come!

Click here to request a copy, or to view or download a PDF version of “Expeditions 2014”.

For the love of Labrador

DavePaddonDave Paddon, who will travel with us to Newfoundland and Wild Labrador in 2014, has a love of Labrador that goes back generations. His dad, William Anthony Paddon, was the first Labrador-born Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. Dave’s parents, and his grandparents, worked with the legendary International Grenfell Association. We asked Dave, the ‘poet-pilot‘ and recitationist about his family history in Labrador.

 

Dave, you come from a pretty illustrious background, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. What do you do?

I’m a pilot. I’ve been flying since 1976 and I started out flying Twin Otters and helicopters in Labrador. It’s quite a treat for me to be included in ACs Labrador trips as I get to see my old stomping grounds. Right now I am an Airbus Captain at Air Canada.

Tell us a bit about your family history in Labrador.

My grandparents were engaged by the Grenfell Mission, a charitable organization that provided health care and educational services to the residents of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Dave’s dad on the hospital vessel “Maravel” in 1949, getting ready to go ashore to see patients in Port Manvers Run, north of Nain.

Dad was born in Labrador and, after naval service in World War II he followed in his parents’ footsteps. My Mother came to Labrador after nursing wounded servicemen in London during the war.

Her hospital suffered a direct hit from a flying bomb one night and Dad’s ship was torpedoed so travelling around by dogteam and hospital vessel for many years was fairly mundane for them—although there were lots of adventures.

How did your background and upbringing influence you?

At one time I thought I would follow in Dad’s footsteps but eventually the Grenfell Mission was absorbed into the provincial health service and that kind of life disappeared.

I guess my upbringing instilled in me a strong love of Labrador which I still feel, even though I don’t live there any more.

How do you convey your own roots in the work you do?

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Dave’s dad, Dr. Tony Paddon, with Kirkina Makko.

In terms of my recitations: they are all rooted in my life in Newfoundland and Labrador. I grew up listening to wonderful stories and funny anecdotes while spending time in trapper’s cabins.

Seems like everyone was a “character” in those days and they provided me with a wealth of material.

For example, Kirkina Mukko. She was an Inuit lady and her story is fascinating if harrowing.

As a young girl her legs froze when the fire in her house went out when her father went to try and find food. As a result he (the father) amputated both legs with an axe!

Did a good job I guess as grandfather was able to complete the “surgery” and Kirkina subsequently got married and raised a family.

 

What do you bring of particular interest to AC passengers aboard ship?

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Dave’s grandfather, (Dr. Harry Paddon) feeding his dogs.

As well as my recitations I always look forward to telling people about the people and culture of Labrador and Newfoundland.

When on the coast of Labrador I particularly like to tell people that dad and grandfather covered the same area by dogteam and then to fill in some of the history of my ancestors I find that passengers are genuinely interested.

Finally, it’s Christmas time. Any fond memories?

I have wonderful Christmas memories of the Inuit who lived in Northwest River. They would go around the town stopping at houses and singing carols in Inuktitut. What a wonderful sound!

Click here and scroll down to hear Dave Paddon’s recitation ‘The Christmas Turr’.

 

 

Congratulations, Red Bay!

Photo: Alex Drainville / Flickr

Photo: Alex Drainville / Flickr

It’s a very important moment for one of our favourite regions in the world: Labrador has its first World Heritage Site.

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, located in Red Bay, Labrador, represents an important episode in Canadian history. For several decades in the 16th century, Basques from Spain and France used Red Bay during annual whaling hunts. Though today’s town site was built on top of the original site (obscuring some of the archeology), important artifacts have been identified, including parts of wharves, and the remains of vessels in the harbour.

Since 1978, one of Canada’s most comprehensive marine archeological endeavours has pieced together artifacts, and drawn a revealing picture of whaling life during the 1600s. A recovered chalupa, or small whaling craft, meticulously conserved, is among the items of interest at the Red Bay National Heritage Site Visitor Centre.

With the UNESCO announcement in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday morning, Red Bay became the third site in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to make the prestigious list. Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site have previously been named to UNESCO’s list, along with 16 other sites across Canada.

For Red Bay, a town of only 200 inhabitants, joining the global list is a matter of pride, prestige—and hopefully, some attention from travellers. We can certainly recommend a visit: Red Bay is an important destination for our Newfoundland and Labrador tours.

We’re glad the UNESCO decision highlights the importance of this fascinating, little-known part of the country, with its direct links to a little-known story from our collective past. Congratulations, Red Bay!

Visit Red Bay on our Newfoundland Circumnavigation 2013 and Newfoundland & Wild Labrador 2014 adventures.

Atwood and Gibson: for the love of birds

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Tonight, Friday June 21, members of the Adventure Canada team will have the privilege of joining celebrated authors Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson at BirdLife International‘s
90th Anniversary Gala Celebration Dinner in Ottawa.

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson are co-chairs of the event, and appropriately so. Their shared passion for our feathered friends is manifest in their tireless work in aid of awareness and conservation of avian species.

Adventure Canada is proud to sponsor the gala with an auction donation of two berths aboard our Newfoundland and Wild Labrador sailing next spring. And we are absolutely delighted to announce that Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson will join the lucky winners, and the rest of our guests, aboard that same sailing.

As special guests of Adventure Canada, the two authors will undoubtedly regale their fellow cruise passengers with stories collected during their careers amid Canada’s literati. As dedicated birders, they’ll also enjoy the opportunity to observe numerous seabird species, at a peak time of year for viewing.

Perhaps most importantly, these two beloved Canadian literary figures will have the chance to share their passion and concern for the plight of birds worldwide with their fellow passengers. We are proud to join them in their efforts—for the love of birds!

Labrador’s Torngats: did you know?

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Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador is a favourite destination for our staff. But to the world at large, the park is still a bit of a mystery. Small wonder: the Torngats are pretty far from the hustle and bustle of most people’s ordinary lives.

But for those who have visited, the Torngats rank among the world’s great places to visit. Why? Well, here’s a quick primer on this incredible Canadian wilderness destination:

1. It’s BIG. Torngat Mountains National Park comprises 9,600 km2 of area, basically forming the whole northern tip of Labarador.

2. A natural high: The Torngat range includes the tallest peaks in eastern Canada. Mount Caubvick (also known as Mont D’Iberville) tops out at 1,652 metres.

3. No car camping. This is not a weekend getaway, but a true wilderness. There are no roads to the park, and no roads or campsites in the park, either. You camp the way people have done for thousands of years: by choosing a likely-looking spot and pitching a tent.

4. You can see for miles. The park lies above the treeline, so the terrain you’ll see among the spectacular mountains is tundra. Which means the views are always spectacular!

5. You stay high and dry. Although the North Atlantic Ocean forms the eastern perimeter of the park, there is very little precipitation in the Torngats; desert-like conditions prevail.

6. It’s old! The precambrian rock that forms the Torngat mountains is part of the Canadian Shield, and is thought to have been formed several billion years ago.

7. Glaciers abound. There are more than forty active glaciers in the Torngats. Snowy peaks, crystal-clear streams and waterfalls are the inevitable, gorgeous result.

8. Grin and bear it: coastal Labrador is polar bear country. Fans of the mighty mammal stand a good chance of seeing them here along the coast. Not to mention caribou, peregrine falcons, whales, seals, and more Arctic char than you could ever eat, protected within park boundaries.

9. Aurora Borealis. The splendour of the northern lights, dancing across a crystal-clear northern night sky, is one of the Torngats’ many heavenly attractions.

10. It’s an ancient homeland. Torngat means ‘place of spirits’ and the land has been home to the Inuit and their ancestors for thousands of years. The Inuit of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut play a key role as partners in the management of Torngat Mountains National Park.

Visit Torngat Mountains National Park on these amazing trips:

Torngat Mountains Heli-Hiking, July 26, 2013 – Aug. 3, 2013
Torngat Safari Base Camp, Aug. 2, 2013 – Aug. 10, 2013
Greenland and Wild Labrador, Sept. 5, 2013 – Sept. 18, 2013
Newfoundland and Wild Labrador, June 19, 2014 – July 2, 2014

Seasons of the Torngats with Mike Beedell

Seasons of the Torngats cropTorngat Mountains National Park is among Adventure Canada’s favourite destinations. This Inuit homeland in Labrador is a virtually untouched wilderness, one that includes Canada’s highest peaks east of the Rockies.

Photographer Mike Beedell has travelled extensively with Adventure Canada from our earliest days, producing stunning images of the spectacular North.

On Monday, May 6, Mike will present a series of images from his travels in the Torngats in an exclusive Adventure Canada presentation at Toronto’s Pangaea Restaurant. Book your dinner through Adventure Canada and enjoy a complimentary after-dinner presentation from Mike Beedell.

Seasons of the Torngats
With Royal Canadian Geographical Society Photographer Mike Beedell

Pangaea Restaurant
1221 Bay Street (at Bloor)
Toronto
Monday, May 7, 2013 6 PM

Seating is limited; reservations required. Call Judy at 905-271-4000 x232 to reserve.

This summer, Mike Beedell is leading two Adventure Canada trips to the Torngats:
Heli-hiking, July 26-August 3 and Base Camp Safari, August 2-August 10.

25th anniversary brochure!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

For months now, the team at Adventure Canada has been working on something our guests look forward to year after year: our new brochure.

Adventure Canada travellers love to dream, and we know they often thumb the pages of our brochures time and again as they plan the perfect adventure.

This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of our first tour, to the Arctic in 1988. So we went to extra effort to celebrate the milestone.

The trips we’re featuring for 2013-2014 are chosen from among our very best – including a new trip to Sable Island, and a return to Antarctica in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Endurance expedition. We think the look and feel of this beautiful document reflects the craft and care that went into planning these amazing trips.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new brochure, Canada and the North. If you’d like a copy for your coffee table or night stand, just let us know.

To view in full screen mode, click on the expand icon (a small square inside a larger square.)

The mystery of Abraham Ulrikab

Abraham Ulrikab was one of eight Inuit from Labrador who came to a tragic end in Europe in the late 1800s.

Having been taken across the Atlantic to feature in ‘ethnographic exhibitions,’ later known as ‘human zoos,’ two families of Inuit who had not been vaccinated all perished; three in Germany, and five, including Abraham, in Paris.

Their story, however, did not die. Abraham Ulrikab’s diary told much of the sad tale, and it was later published, first in German, and most recently, in English.

Inspired by a trip to Hebron, Labrador, researcher France Rivet became fascinated by the continuing mystery of Albraham Ulrikab, and has made it a mission to find out more.

A recent article in the Telegram describes Rivet’s current effort to ‘crowdfund’ her research by asking members of the public to contribute.

Rivet hopes to discover where Abraham and his family died and were buried in Paris. Here’s hoping we all learn a little more from her efforts.

Adventure on the horizon!

It’s a busy time at the Adventure Canada headquarters along the icy shores of Port Credit, Ontario.

We may be gazing out at the depths of winter, but our minds are on the spring and summer seasons stretching ahead of us. And no wonder: just look at the trips ahead of us as we celebrate our 25th year in style.

Lovers of exotic locations will be excited to hear we’re heading back to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands shortly, followed by Cusco and Machu Pichu. Fans of “Britain’s Better Half” will want to know all about our two trips to that legendary destination: Scotland Slowly, and Scotland to Greenland.

And then, as spring flings into summer, comes a series of the Arctic excursions for which we are so well known. Take your pick of Heart of the Arctic, Alianiat Arts Festival, Into the Northwest Passage, Out of the Northwest Passage, and Artic Explorer.

As the summer sun hangs high in the sky, you’ll find us heading slowly southward again in style, via Greenland and Wild Labrador, and our spectacular Newfoundland Circumnavigation.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, the Great Bear Rainforest beckons the adventurous traveller. And don’t miss your chance to visit the wild vistas of  one of the world’s ten remotest parks, with Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Torngat Mountains Heli-Hiking.

That’s only a sample of what we’re doing, and where we’re going this year. Hope you’ll join us!