L'Anse aux Meadows Vikings-Ferry to Labrador

Trip Start Jul 06, 2007
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Trip End Aug 03, 2007


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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland,
Monday, July 23, 2007

We got an early start this morning to see L'Anse aux Meadows. The reconstructions of three Norse buildings are the focal point of this archaeological site, the earliest known European settlement in the New World. The archaeological remains at the site were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Exhibits highlight the Viking lifestyle, artifacts, and the archaeological discovery of the site. Visitors can also explore the hiking trails to nearby bays and lakes.

Exiting the site we saw two moose nearby grazing quietly. This is the closest we've been able to get to them. They're huge!

We had to head south to catch the St. Barbe ferry to Blanc Sablon, Quebec.  John contacted the ferry operator before we left California and was told there would be no problem getting tickets without a reservation. We found out the hard way that is not the case. Upon arriving at the dock in what we thought was plenty of time, we found about fifty people hoping to get on the 1PM ferry! To make a very long story short, we got stuck and had to kill time in the middle of nowhere waiting for the next and last ferry of the day to leave at 6PM.  No matter what you're told, get a reservation. We have only one night to spend in Labrador and this really messed us up timewise. The crossing took 90 minutes and was pretty rough. 

Our destination for the night is Grenfell Louie A. Hall B&B in Forteau, Labrador (which is roughly 15km/9 miles from Blanc Sablon Quebec).  

This B&B is housed in one of Grenfell's former mission hospitals. There wasn't much we could do this evening but find dinner and get back to the B&B.  The time lost today will have to be made up tomorrow...we've decided to take a later ferry back to St. Barbe. So far from what we can see, this place is mostly wilderness.

Forteau is a service centre for the Labrador Straits and the second largest community in the region. Its population as of 1991 was 519. The name Forteau may come from the French adjective forte (strong), describing the strong tides in the area. Excavations at Forteau show strong evidence of the Maritime archaic Indians settling here as early as 5560 BC. Much later, the Basque used the harbour as a whaling station and by 1757, a garrison called La Forteau had been erected by the French. In 1763, Labrador was given to the British and it came under the control of the Newfoundland government. The British, some of which were from the Channel Islands, began to use the area. Joseph Bird established a cod, furring and salmon enterprise here in 1808 and William Buckle and his wife Mary became Forteau's first settlers. The first census was taken in 1874 and showed a population of 86 and by 1921 the population had risen to 216. Forteau was incorporated as a town in 1971.

Our innkeeper suggested we watch two videos that would help us understand the area and its history as well as learn about Dr. Grenfell and his contributions to NL.  That took about two hours but since we lost so much time dealing with that ferry fiasco this gave us a chance to absorb lots of info.  That done...you guessed it...we promptly fell asleep!
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