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

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.