Continuing on with the Silversea cruise to Greenland, the ship crossed the Davis Strait and made port calls on the mainland of Canada and the large island on Newfoundland. This area is bordered by parts of the Atlantic Ocean, so I am referring to it as the Atlantic Provinces of Canada.
Nunavut is the newest, largest, and most northerly province of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, and includes the entire archipelago between Greenland and North America as well as all of the islands in Hudson Bay. Nunavut means "our land" in the native language Inuktitut, thereby honoring the mostly Inuit population. The capital is the town of Iqaluit, and the economy is primarily based on mining, oil and mineral exploration, arts and crafts, hunting and fishing, and tourism. The province is not connected to the rest of Canada by highway and overland travel is challenging, to say the least. We landed at Iqaliut and then did 'scenic cruising' of several islands to the south and the coastline of Labrador by ship and zodiac but did not set foot on land again until the World Heritage site of Red Bay in Labrador.
Labrador was named after João Fernandes Lavrador, a Portuguese explorer, who probably sighted the land in 1498-99. Less that 50 years later, Basque mariners came ashore at a natural harbour on the north east coast of the Strait of Belle Isle at the very southern tip of Labrador. A whaling station was set up around the bay, now named Red Bay after the red terracotta roof tiles they brought with them. Between 1550 and the early 17th century, it was a centre for Basque whaling operations. Sailors from southern France and northern Spain sent 15 whaleships and 600 men each season to the remote outpost to try to catch the right whales and bowhead whales that populated the waters there. A whaling ship, the San Juan, sank there in 1565 and was raised in 1978; several other whaling ships have been located in the bay. In recognition of the significance of the site, Red Bay was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The village today has less than 200 residents and probably fewer visitors.
Newfoundland is a roughly triangular island separated from Labrador by the Strait of Belle Isle, and the two regions are joined together as Canada's most easterly province. Human habitation in Newfoundland and Labrador can be traced back about 9,000 years; but by the time of European contact, only one tribe, the Beothuk, were still living on Newfoundland. The oldest confirmed accounts of European contact date from a thousand years ago as described in the Norse Viking Icelandic Sagas. Around the year 1001, the sagas refer to Leif Ericson landing in three places to the west, the first two being Helluland (possibly Baffin Island) and Markland (possibly Labrador). Leif's third landing was at a place he called Vinland (possibly Newfoundland). Archaeological evidence of a Norse settlement was found in L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. The site is well-maintained, with a staff of re-enacters during the tourist season living on-site and practicing the arts and crafts, and cooking and woodworking in the reconstructed buildings.
This cruise to the little-visited areas of Greenland and Atlantic Canada was focused on the scenery of the lands and sea, the lifestyles of early settlers and current natives, and the history of this corner of the world. The bleak barrenness of the land and the power of the sea were awesome in their own way and I came away with a renewed respect for people who live here.
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13 Sep 2016.......Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
14 Sep................Monumental Island – Lady Franklin Island, Nunavut, CA
15 Sep................Lower Savage Islands – Resolution Island, Nunavut, CA
16 Sep................Akpatok Island, Nunavut, CA
17 Sep................Cruising the Labrador Sea
18 Sep................Cruising the Labrador Sea
19 Sep................Red Bay, Labrador, CA – L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, CA
20 Sep................Twillingate, Newfoundland, CA
21 Sep................St John’s, Newfoundland YYT — Toronto, Ontario YYZ
WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Red Bay Whaling Station
L'Anse Aux Meadows
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