17 Images To Make You Want to Explore The Southern Coast of Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is politically one region, but in reality is two distinct places. 95% of the visitors to the province only visit the island of Newfoundland. Most people never bother to take the 15km trek across the Strait of Belle Isle to visit the other half of the province. Earlier in 2013 I had the pleasure of visiting the southern coast of Labrador, which is perhaps the most accessible part of Labrador. The purpose of my trip was to visit Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, but I discovered much more.

Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site
[1] The Point Amour Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the Atlantic provinces and the second tallest in Canada. It served watch over the dangerous waters of the narrowest point of the Bell Isle Straight which separates Newfoundland from Labrador. It was built in 1857 and was operated continuously until 1996. Today it is a provincial historic site and museum which is open to the public.

Reflections in the water in Red Bay
[2] The shoreline of Southern Labrador is rugged yet serene.

Boat House on Saddle Island
[3] Red Bay has been a center for fishing and whaling for almost 500 years and it is one of the oldest fishing ports in the western hemisphere.

Overturned boat on Saddle Island
[4] Basque whalers came to Red Bay in the early 16th century. Their presence can still be seen on Saddle Island, just across Red Bay from the mainland. Here they set up many buildings for the processing of whales and whale fat. The foundations and imprints of the buildings can still be seen.

Moss and flowers
[5]Southern Labrador is in a zone where you begin to see a transition to the scrub trees in the taiga. Mosses and grasses are some of the dominant plant life you’ll find in the area.

Boardwalk on Saddle Island
[6] Saddle Island, the location of many of the ancient Basque whaling sites, can easily be explored by foot. it is a quick $2 and 2 minute boat ride from the Parks Canada visitor center in Red Bay.

Pond on Saddle Island
[7] Spears and other small objects from the Basque period have been found in the small ponds on Saddle Island.

Wreck of the Bernier, which went aground in 1966
[8] Most of the artifacts which have been recovered in Red Bay, and our knowledge of the whaling community, are from ship wrecks. The most recent wreck is of the SS Bernier which ran around in 1966.

Boats docked in the town of St. Mary
[9] The town of St. Mary is approximately two hours north of Red Bay via gravel road. St. Mary’s is the gateway to village of Battle Harbor which is only accessible by boat.

Village of Battle Harbor as seen from the sea
[10]The southern coast of Labrador was a traditional area for cod fishing. That, however, was decimated by the cod fishing moratorium which was put in place by the Canadian government in 1992. The village of Battle Harbor, like many other fishing villages in Labrador, was abandoned. However, a effort has been made to preserve Battle Harbor

Battle Harbor Waterfront
[11] When Battle Harbor was abandoned by its inhabitants, everything was left intact. The waterfront area, where the cod was dried and salted, is still as it was during its heyday.

Graffiti dating from 1936
[12] Evidence of the original citizens of Battle Harbor can be seen everywhere. This graffiti in the warehouse dates back to 1936. Salt crystals from the storage room can still be seen between the wooden planks.

Old furnishings of Battle Harbor
[13] Many of the possessions, appliances, tools and furniture from Battle Harbor was left in place. Some other period pieces have been brought in to give a glimpse of what life was like in the fishing village.

Sunsetting over Battle Harbor
[14] Battle Harbor at sunset. This is similar to the what the fisherman would have seen coming home from sea.

Boat on the Waterfront
[15] A rowboat resting on the rocks.

Battle Harbor Inn
[16] Today, the buildings of Battler Harbor have been renovated and are available for visitors to stay in. It is one of the most unique accommodations I’ve stayed in during my travels. You can sleep in the actual homes that the fishermen and their families lived in, albeit modernized and upgraded for modern visitors.

Sunrise on Labrador
[17] I left Battle Harbor on the same day the staff was leaving after closing for the summer season. I saw several of the staff crying as the left the island which had been their home for months. This was the last sunrise they saw as we left the island to return to the mainland of Labrador.