It’s called the Big Land, and with 293, 000 sq km sprawling north toward the Arctic Circle, it’s easy to see why. Undulating, rocky, puddled expanses form the sparse, primeval landscape. If you ever wanted to see what the world looked like before humans stepped on it, this is the place to head. Adding to the Great Northern effect, four huge caribou herds, including the world’s largest (some 750, 000 head), migrate across Labrador to their calving grounds each year.
Inuit and Innu have occupied Labrador for thousands of years, and until the 1960s the population was still limited to them and a few longtime European descendants known as ‘liveyers.’ They eked out an existence by fishing and hunting from their tiny villages that freckled the coast. The interior was virgin wilderness.
Over the past few decades, the economic potential of Labrador’s vast natural resources has earned it a new degree of attention. Companies have tapped into the massive iron-ore mines in Wabush and Labrador City and the hydroelectric dam at Churchill Falls.
The northern coast of the province remains essentially unchanged, however, and is a great place to explore the aboriginal-influenced villages. There are no roads, so you’ll have to get there by supply ferry. Actually, a lack of roads and facilities is common throughout this behemoth region, so planning ahead is essential.
Labrador (population 27, 000) is a cold, wet and windy place, and its bugs are murderous. Note that the Labrador Straits (not including the Québec portion) are on Newfoundland Time, while the rest of Labrador (starting at Cartwright) is on Atlantic Time, ie 30 minutes behind Newfoundland. Québec is on Eastern Time, which is an hour behind Atlantic Time. These variations can make ferry and airplane schedules a headache.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
Get your guidebooks, travel goods, even individual chapters, right here.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.