Now if you thought Newfoundland was out of the way, wait until you get to Labrador. After an hour-long ferry ride, we arrived in Quebec and then headed into Labrador, a 15 minute ride resulting in an hour and a half time zone change! We spotted bald eagles and osprey soaring over long stretches of wide-open spaces covering craggy mountains and rocky coastlines. Berry fields ripe for the picking was an added bonus of being here in September, considered quite late in the tourist season. More berries for us!
We stayed at Barney's B and B, run by Mary Barney who was related to or at least knew just about everyone on the fifty mile stretch of paved coastline. She cooked us these incredible breakfasts, eggs, bacon, ham, pancakes, toast, biscuits, and trotted out five different types of her home-made jams (partridgeberries aka lingonberries, crowberries aka blackberries, blueberries, bakeapples, and something else...). We had so much fun listening to her berry-picking stories and watching her prep and cook the berries; note the photo of her dropping the berries from pan to pan in the wind to get ride of the leaves, etc. She also cooked us a traditional "jiggs dinner" similar to a boiled veggie dinner that Fran makes, but with salted meat. She was so happy when Fran helped her fix a broken sink faucet; we were thankful to do something to show our gratitude for her kindness. She reminded Fran of his family and they found a kindered spirit in each other.
Mary's son and daughter in law came over for dinner, making for a fun and informative evening. We were astonished that Newfoundland and Labrador have a total of 500,000 residents; compared to about 2 million people in Portland alone, it's no wonder everyone seems to know everybody else. The province voted to join Canada in 1949 (after voting NOT to join the United States!), and many are still unhappy about it for a variety of reasons, including being forced to move from their ancestral homes in order to access services. We've seen photos of them dragging entire houses across land and water to their new town! The accent in Labrador is strongly influenced by their Irish heritage and at times, Mary was difficult to understand. Fran joked that she dropped her "h" in some places ("th" was often pronounced as "t" as in tree instead of three), and because she had so many extra h's, she tossed them into other places (as in "hate" instead of "eight"). I thought she said "I hate children" until I realized she was telling me she had 8 of them!
Labrador has some significant points of interest including archaeological remains from a 7500 year old burial site of a Native child, as well as an entire boat, clothing, and other ship-faring objects from Basque whalers in the mid 1550's at the Red Bay National Historic Site. We also climbed up the tallest lighthouse in the Atlantic Provinces at L'anse Amore; a clever rename from it's original of L'anse aux morts (Cove of death) due to all of the shipwrecks. Definitely in need of the lighthouse! From the top we watched gannets make 40 foot dives into the water and a woodchuck working his way through the bushes. Besides the people, the views and wildlife are true highlights of the area.