You may recall in my previous post about solo travel, how I mentioned you’d have to wait for another post to hear about the solo portion of my trip. I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath, but I’m happy to say the wait is over! So if you couldn’t tell from the title, my final destination was Labrador! Yes I made it over to the Big Land! After a wonderful day at L’Anse aux Meadows exploring the only viking settlement in North America, I made my way down to the Ferry Terminal at St Barbe for an early morning start as I took the ferry over to Labrador.
My main stop for this short visit was the historic site at Red Bay. This small port used to be the site of several Basque whaling stations, where they found the remnants of three Basque whaling galleons and four chalupas – making it a valuable underwater archaeological site. Red Bay itself is a very small town with a population of approximately 225 people, which practically doubles when two tour buses come and park at the site. While I took some time to take a look at the artifacts in the main Parks Canada buildings, most of my time was spent on Saddle Island.
$2 and a 20min boat ride later, I was exploring this tiny little island. With a 3km trail that goes all around the island, this relaxed trail has a slightly eerie feel to it. After some time trekking around taking in everything that I could, I noticed that what I thought were just some rocks hiding behind moss were actually what remained of whale skeletons. There are a few located throughout the island, all of which have a small sign showing the lineage of the whales. Ghostly but beautiful, it makes you take a moment and think about how much humanity has affected nature.
About half way through the trail, you come across a patch of area with numerous rocks strewn across the land. These are the remains of over 140 men and boys whose lives ended in tragedy as a number of whaling ships were trapped in ice. In those times relief couldn’t be sent until the thaw of spring, and by the time help arrived many of them were dead or dying. An eerily alluring landscape meant to be quietly appreciated by visitors to the island.
Despite the time on the island being somewhat rushed as if I missed my boat I would be waiting another hour for the next one, I enjoyed the large amount of history captured within this small island. It makes me appreciate just how beautiful and vast Canada is, and what a fascinating history our land has!
After my trek around the island, I wandered through the museum. However, this was a short visit as I had an early morning start with an even earlier morning awaiting me the next day. So back down the Trans-Labrador highway I went, stopping to check out the beautiful L’Anse Amour burial site as I made my way to the Point Amour lighthouse. The beautiful silent monument is the earliest recorded in the new world, marking the burial place of an Indian child who passed 7500 years ago.
I arrived just as the quaint little lighthouse closed so unfortunately I couldn’t go in to see the true sights, but I did have the opportunity to trek the Raleigh Trail around the area where remnants of the HMS Raleigh are still scattered across the shore. This ship met its demise as it unfortunately hit the sole iceberg in the isle, according to the Point Amour light keeper.
As the sun began to set I made my way back to Blanc Sablon, where the ferry terminal (as well as my hotel) were located to get some rest and some shut eye. However, a word of advice for those who choose to visit the big land (as you should since it’s amazing). Despite having hotels located a 5min drive from the ferry terminal, it might be a good idea to stay within Labrador. Blanc Sablon is located just inside the Quebec border… and a 1.5h time change. It may not seem like a lot, but when you’re trying to catch a ferry that leaves only twice a day and you’ve got somewhere to be – it’s definitely a stressor! I kept waking up to check the time and wondering if it was Quebec or Labrador time!! It meant for a shorter night than I intended, but still a wonderful trip nonetheless. A trip that ended with this beautiful sunrise.