2013 trip to Newfoundland, Canada travel blog

August 13, 2013 Red Bay, Labrador

We were up at 4:30 am to board the tour bus to Labrador for a one day visit. We were supposed to stay overnight in a hotel but that got changed at some time by the Adventure Caravans tour group. We were not informed EVER of the change and just about everyone on the tour were not happy. Our wagonmaster was not informed of the reason but he called the company and was told that because of the hotel not allowing pets anymore that they decided to not stay overnight and instead have a one day bus tour. Adventure Caravans will be getting a lot of complaints. It is 70 miles to the ferry terminal then a 1 and a half hour ferry ride for a quick 4 hour tour of three places in Labrador then back to the ferry terminal for another one and a half hour ride then a one and a half hour ride on the bus back to camp. Although the bus driver, Danny, was great we had a minor overheating problem with the bus; it was losing coolant. We donated all our water bottles and were able to make it back to camp at about 7 pm.

What we saw in Labrador:

The indigenous people of Labrador, the Innu, have been in Labrador for 9000 years. The Vikings visited Labrador around 1000 AD but didn’t have settlements there. They did have settlements for about 10 years around St. Anthony, Newfoundland. On Labrador we stopped at the visitor’s center for a history of the discovery of Labrador by Leif Ericson in the 11 century. Leif Ericson lived in Greenland and explored lands to the west which he called Vinland because of the wild grapes. There are no wild grapes in Labrador or in the northern part of Newfoundland; only in the southern part of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and in the New England states. In the 1500s, the Basque set up whaling stations during the summers where they hunted Right whales and rendered the oil for shipment to Europe. Also in the 1500s the French and English that set up fisheries and settled in Labrador and Newfoundland.

We visited a burial site of an Indian child, age about 14 years, who died about 7500 years ago. The Maritime Archaic people, to whom the child belonged, occupied this area between 9000 and 3500 years ago.

The Point Amour Lighthouse, at 109 feet from the ground to the light itself, is the tallest in Atlantic Canada. You can climb to the top for a magnificent unobstructed view of the coast line. Completed in 1857, Point Amour was and still is a strategic location for shipping through the Strait of Belle Isle, on a shipping lane linking Canada and Europe. In one of the outer building, the docents was serving Cloudberry pie; unfortunately the sample size slices were small; I could have eaten the whole pie.

As we started to leave the lighthouse and board the bus, We saw dolphins jumping off the coast of the Point Amour Lighthouse.

Basque Whalers in the strait of Bell Isle (Red Bay, Labrador)

Right and bowhead whales once attracted whalers from the Basque region of Spain and France to the Strait of Belle Isle (Labrador) during the mid to late 16th century. The Basques had begun hunting right whales in their own waters as early as the 11th century, and whale oil had become a valuable commodity in European markets. The Basque set up whaling stations in Red Bay, Labrador where they killed the whales and rendered the blubber to extract the oil. Archeologists have found evidence that the Basque set up whaling stations in Red Bay, Labrador where they killed the whales brought them ashore and rendered the blubber to extract the oil. There is a nice interpretive center in Red Bay on this subject.

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