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Flag of Labrador, with Coat of Arms
(de facto)
Latin: Munus splendidum mox explebitur
The splendid task will soon be fulfilled

Water area: (4%)
Highest Point: Mount Caubvikmarker
( )
Longest River: Churchill River
( )
Admin HQ: Happy Valley-Goose Baymarker
Population (2006): 26,364
Largest City: Happy Valley-Goose Baymarker
7,572 (2006)
Government of Newfoundland & Labrador
Members of the Parliament of Canadamarker: 1
Members of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly: 4
Labrador is a region of Atlantic Canadamarker. Together with the island of Newfoundlandmarker from which it is separated by the Strait of Belle Islemarker, it constitutes the province of Newfoundland and Labradormarker. The region is part of the much larger Labrador Peninsulamarker on the Canadianmarker mainland. The area was known by the Norse as Markland.

The population of Labrador is 26,364 (2006 census), including some 30 percent Aboriginal peoples, including Inuit, Innu, and Métis. Labrador’s area (including associated small islands and inland water surfaces) is . It has a land area of , approximately the size of New Zealandmarker. Its former capital was Battle Harbourmarker.

The name "Labrador" is one of the oldest names of European origin in Canada, almost as old as the name "Newfoundland". It is named after Portuguesemarker explorer João Fernandes Lavrador who, together with Pêro de Barcelos, were the second party of European explorers (after the Vikings) to sight it in 1498.

Most non-Aboriginal settlement of Labrador occurred due to fishing villages, missions, and fur trading outposts; modern settlements have been created as a result of iron ore mining, hydroelectric developments, and military installations. Until modern times, difficult sea travel and lack of general transportation facilities discouraged settlement. In the 1760s, Moravian missionaries began settling, building missions and often sharing in the fur trade with the Hudson's Bay Company, which was the dominant force on the peninsula until 1870. Claims have persisted concerning the Labrador Peninsulamarker with Quebecmarker, although they were settled by judicial decision in 1927 by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Councilmarker.

Modern Labrador

Just like its island neighbour Newfoundland, early settlement in Labrador was tied to the sea as demonstrated by the Montagnais, Innu and Inuit, although these peoples also made significant forays throughout the interior as well. European settlement was largely concentrated in coastal communities, particularly those south of Hamilton Inletmarker, and are among Canada's oldest European settlements. Extremely poor, both European and First Nations settlements along coastal Labrador came to benefit from cargo and relief vessels that were operated as part of the Grenfell Mission (see Sir Wilfred Grenfell). Throughout the 20th century, coastal freighters and ferries operated initially by the Newfoundland Railwaymarker and later Canadian National Railways/CN Marine/Marine Atlantic became a critical lifeline for communities on the coast, which for the majority of that century, did not have any road connection with the rest of North America.

Labrador has played strategic roles in both the Second World War and the Cold War. In the early 1940s a German U-boat crew installed an automated weather station on the northern tip of Labrador near Cape Chidleymarker, nicknamed Weather Station Kurtmarker. The station only broadcast weather observations to the German navy for a few days but was not discovered until the 1980s when a historian, working with the Canadian Coast Guard, identified its location.

The Canadian government built a major air force base at Goose Bay, at the head of Lake Melvillemarker during the Second World War, a site selected because of its topography, access to the sea, defensible location, and minimal fog. During the Second World War and the Cold War, the base was also home to American, British, and later German, Netherlands, and Italian detachments. Today, CFB Goose Baymarker is the largest employer for the community of Happy Valley-Goose Baymarker.

Additionally, both the United States Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force built and operated a number of radar stations along coastal Labrador as part of the Pinetree Line, Mid-Canada Line and DEW Line systems. Today the remaining stations are automated as part of the North Warning System, however the military settlements during the early part of the Cold War surrounding these stations have largely continued as local Innu and Inuit populations have clustered near their port and airfield facilities.

During the first half of the 20th century, some of the largest iron ore deposits in the world were discovered in the western part of Labrador and adjacent areas of Quebec. Deposits at Mont Wrightmarker, Scheffervillemarker, Labrador Citymarker, and Wabushmarker drove industrial development and human settlement in the area during the post-war years.

The present community of Labrador West is entirely a result of the iron ore mining activities in the region. The Iron Ore Company of Canada operates the Quebec, North Shore, and Labrador Railway to transport ore concentrate 500 miles south to the port of Sept-Îles, Quebecmarker for shipment to steel mills in North America and elsewhere.

During the 1960s, the Churchill River was diverted at Churchill Fallsmarker which resulted in the flooding of an enormous area — today named the Smallwood Reservoirmarker after Joey Smallwood, the first premier of Newfoundland. The flooding of the reservoir destroyed large areas of habitat for the threatened Woodland Caribou. Both a hydroelectric generating station and a transmission line were built in the neighbouring province of Quebec.

In the 1970s-2000s the Trans-Labrador Highway was built in stages to connect various inland communities with the North American highway network at Mont Wright, Quebecmarker (which in turn is connected by a highway running north from Baie-Comeau, Quebecmarker). A southern extension of this highway has opened in stages during the early 2000s and is resulting in significant changes to the coastal ferry system in the Strait of Belle Islemarker and southeastern Labrador. It is worth noting that these "highways" are so called only because of their importance to the region; they would be better described as roads, and are not completely paved.

A study on a fixed link to Newfoundland, in 2004, recommended that a tunnel under the Strait of Belle Isle, being a single railway that would carry cars, buses and trucks, was technologically the best option for such a link. However, the study also concluded that a fixed link was not economically viable. Conceivably, if built with federal aid, the 1949 terms of union would be amended to remove ferry service from Nova Scotiamarker to Port-aux-Basquesmarker across the Cabot Strait.

Although a highway link will soon (2009 or 2010) be complete across Labrador, this route is somewhat longer than a proposed Quebec North Shore highway that presently does not exist. Part of the "highway", Route 389, starting approximately 212 km (132 mi) from Baie Comeau to 482 km (299 mi) is of an inferior alignment, and from there to 570 km (354 mi), the provincial border, is an accident-prone section notorious for its poor surface and sharp curves. Quebec in April 2009 announced major upgrades to Route 389 to be carried out.

Route 389 and the Trans-Labrador Highway were added to Canada's National Highway System in September 2005.

Labrador constitutes a federal electoral district electing one member to the Canadian House of Commons. Due to its size, distinct nature, and large Aboriginal population, Labrador has one seat despite having the smallest population of any electoral district in Canada. Formerly, Labrador was part of a riding that included part of the Island of Newfoundland. Labrador is divided into four provincial electoral districts in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly.

Boundary dispute

Line A: the boundary decided by the Privy Council; the current legal boundary.
Line B: the boundary as it is sometimes portrayed by Quebec today.

The border between Labrador and Canada was set March 2, 1927, after a tortuous five-year trial. In 1809 Labrador had been transferred from Lower Canada to Newfoundland, but the landward boundary of Labrador had never been precisely stated. Newfoundland argued it extended to the height of land, but Canada, stressing the historical use of the term "Coasts of Labrador", argued the boundary was one statute mile (1.6 km) inland from the high-tide mark. As Canada and Newfoundland were separate countries, but both members of the British Empire, the matter was referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Councilmarker (in Londonmarker), which set the Labrador boundary mostly along the coastal watershed. One of Newfoundland's conditions for joining Confederation in 1949 was that this boundary be entrenched in the Canadian constitution. While this border has not been formally accepted by the Quebecmarker government, the Henri Dorion[9277] Commission (Commission d'étude sur l'intégrité du territoire du Québec) concluded in the early 1970s that Quebec no longer has a legal claim to Labrador. Still, Quebec government publications sometimes ignore or modify the Labrador boundary, especially the southern segment.[9278] In 2001, Québec Natural Resources Minister and Québec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister reasserted that Québec has never recognised the 1927 border:
"Les ministres rappellent qu'aucun gouvernement québécois n'a reconnu formellement le tracé de la frontière entre le Québec et Terre-Neuve dans la péninsule du Labrador selon l'avis rendu par le comité judiciaire du Conseil privé de Londres en 1927. Pour le Québec, cette frontière n'a donc jamais été définitivement arrêtée."

The province's name change to Newfoundland and Labrador was meant to emphasize its claim to Labrador, as well as Labrador's unique culture and contributions to the province.

Possible separation from Newfoundland

A Royal Commission in 2002 determined that there is a certain amount of public pressure from Labradorians to break off from Newfoundland and become a separate province or territory. Some of the Innu nation would have the area become a homeland for them, much as Nunavutmarker is for the Inuit; a 1999 resolution of the Assembly of First Nations claimed Labrador as a homeland for the Innu and demanded recognition in any further constitutional negotiations regarding the region.[9279] The Inuit self-government region of Nunatsiavut was recently created through agreements with the provincial and federal governments.



Largest towns in Labrador (incorporated towns only)
Town 2006 2001
Happy Valley-Goose Baymarker 7,572 7,969
Labrador Citymarker 7,240 7,744
Wabushmarker 1,739 1,894
Nainmarker 1,034 1,159
L'Anse-au-Loupmarker 593 635
Cartwrightmarker 552 629
Hopedalemarker 530 559
North West Rivermarker 492 551
Port Hope Simpsonmarker 529 509
Forteau 448 477

Demographic Factors (2001 Census)
Factor Labrador Canada
Male/Female split 50.6/49.4 49.0/51.0
Median age 32.6 37.6
Percent foreign-born. 1.5% 18.4%
Aboriginal pop. 34.9% 3.3%
Religion - Catholic 28.4% 43.6%
Religion - Protestant 67.4% 29.2%
Religion - other 0.8% 10.6%
No religion 3.4% 16.5%
Median income (age 15+) $19,229 $22,120
Unemployment rate 19.1% 7.4%

Natural features

Labrador is home to a number of fauna and flora species. Most of the Upper Canadian and Lower Hudsonian mammalian species are found in Labrador. Notably the Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus reaches the southeast of Labrador on its annual migration.

See also


  2. * Community Profile: Labrador: Division No. 10, Newfoundland and Labrador; Statistics Canada
  3. The American Naturalist (1898) Essex Institute, American Society of Naturalists
  4. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Polar Bear: Ursus maritimus,, ed. N. Stromberg

Further reading

  • The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace (ISBN 1-4043-1537-3; July 2002)
  • Labrador by Choice, by Benjamin W. Powell Sr. C.M. 1979
  • The Story of Labrador, by B. Rompkey (2005)
  • Labrador, by Robert Stewart (1977)

External links

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