Canada’s easternmost province is a living lesson in botany, history, geology, zoology, anthropology, and hospitality. This spring trip is timed to make the most of the bloom of the early season, and we’re likelier to see ice and icebergs at this time of year too, not to mention marine mammals at their finest, and seabirds beyond counting.
Working our way up the coast of Newfoundland from the island of Saint Pierre, a last outpost of the former French Empire, we visit spectacular Gros Morne National Park, with its pristine fiords and outstanding vistas; the national historic site of Port Au Choix, where four different ancient cultures have lived; and the reconstructed Viking settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then there’s Labrador, a favourite destination for AC staff and guests alike. Here you’ll find the highest mountains in Canada east of the Rockies, and a practically untouched coastline. The Inuit homeland, Nunatsiavut, meaning ‘Our beautiful land’ is rich with attractions: whales, seals, birds and bears, icebergs, and the spectacular wilderness of Torngat Mountains National Park. We’ll cap our journey with a visit to Nunavik, Quebec’s Arctic coastal region, and end our trip at Kuujjuaq.
Day 1: Saint Pierre
Day 2: Miawpukek (Conne River)
Day 3: Gros Morne National Park
Day 4: Port au Choix
Day 5: Red Bay
Day 6: L’Anse aux Meadows & Battle Harbour
Day 7: Wonderstrands
Day 8: Hopedale
Day 9: Okak
Day 10-13: Torngat Mountains National Park
Day 14: Kuujjuaq
A population of approximately 6,500 resides on the island of St. Pierre, all from various descents including French, Basque, Breton, and Normand. St. Pierre’s houses somewhat resemble its history: an eclectic collection of colors and style aligned on picturesque cobblestone streets and alleys.
A visit to Miawpukek (Conne River) will reveal a First Nation’s community that has the mandate of turning the community into an economically self-sufficient community guided by traditional values. Miawpukek became a permanent community sometime around 1822. Before 1822 it was one of many semi-permanent camping sites used by the Mi’kmaw people who were at the time still nomadic and travelling throughout the east coast
It has been said, "Gros Morne is to geology what the Galapagos are to biology." Spectacular scenery including Precambrian cliffs, deep inland fjords and volcanic "pillow" rocks formed as lava cooled underwater- is just one of the reasons we stop here year after year. Highlights on this day include time spent exploring the Tablelands, a 600m (1900 ft) high plateau that forms one of the world’s best examples of ancient rock exposed from the earth’s interior, and exploring the fjord by ship.
Port au Choix, on the west side of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, has been populated for thousands of years. The remains of four ancient cultures have been found at Port au Choix to date: Maritime Archaic Indian, Dorset and Groswater Paleoeskimo, and Recent Indians. Archaeologists searched many years for a site such as this one, which sheds new light on our understanding of native peoples in this part of the world.
Today we visit Red Bay, the fishing village and former site of several Basque whaling stations, occupied between 1550 and the early 1600s when they hunted right and bowhead whales.
We call in this morning at one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, North America’s only authenticated Viking settlement, L’Anse aux Meadows.
Battle Harbor was the fiscal and social center of SE Labrador for two centuries. The decline and eventual collapse of the fishery thrust the island into a state of disarray. Today the glory of the island has been revived. We’ll stroll among the beautifully restored buildings learning about the key role of the island in the economic and social sphere of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Two long trackless crescents of unoccupied 'virgin' sand, washed by the cold Labrador sea, backed by the Mealy Mountains: Labrador’s Wonderstrand. Named by sea faring Vikings ('the Wunderstrand') but long hunted, traveled and occupied over thousands of years by various peoples, it is still largely unknown and rarely visited by non-Labradorians.
Originally called Agvituk meaning 'place of whales', Hopedale was first established in 1782 by Moravian Missionaries. Today the community is a mix of Inuit and settler populations. Traditional Inuit practices remain strong and most of the six hundred plus residents are members of the Labrador Inuit Association. The Hopedale Mission is considered to be the oldest wooden-frame building east of Quebec and has been declared a National Historic Site. There is a wonderfully run museum located by the Mission.
Okak is a former community located on Okak Bay in northern Labrador. Okak was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1978, due to the former Moravian mission and the existence of sixty archaeological sites in the area, dating from 5550 BCE and representing of habitation from Maritime Archaic to Labrador Inuit.
From the Inuktitut word Torngait , meaning ‘place of spirits’, the Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence reaching back almost 7,000 years. The fjords here reach well back into the depths of the Torngats where we are overshadowed by cliffs rising straight up from the sea, peaking at 1,700 m, the highest point of land in Labrador. The Torngat Mountains claim some of the oldest rocks on the planet and provide some of the best exposure of geological history. The rocky landscape is a challenge to life, and the species that make their home here are a resilient bunch with fascinating survival adaptations. We hope to see a number of species during our time in Northern Labrador. Our intention is to make expeditionary stops in the northern reaches of Labrador, including the Eclipse Bay, Nackvak Fiord and Saglek Bay.
Kuujjuaq previously was known as Fort Chimo, a mispronunciation of the Inuit phrase saimuuq, "Let’s shake hands!" Today Kuujjuaq is a bustling community combining traditional Inuit culture with the conveniences of modern day life.
* Itinerary may be subject to change