Posted on January 20, 2016
There are few places left in the world which are truly wild. Where vast expanses of unexplored land lay wild, still occupied and ruled by the flora and fauna that call it home. When we think of these sorts of lands, these far-off corners of our uber-connected modern world, our minds typically drift to mythical mountain ranges, remote desert oasis, deep gorges, and canyons tucked away in the world’s largest mountains. You don’t usually think of anywhere in eastern North America.
But if you start driving north, up through the United States and into Canada...up past Quebec City and take a ferry to a far corner of the continent where paved roads are still just beginning to make an appearance. If you keep driving, you will eventually reach the end of the road. At this stage, you would be in Labrador.
The region’s vast wilderness and plentiful caribou, deer, and small game populations, along with an abundance of coastal wildlife such as seal, whale, walrus, and fish were the perfect environment for the indigenous peoples of the Innu and Inuit. Basque whalers were next to follow, and started the influx of western cultures. Moravian missionaries began to set up communities along the inhospitable coastline of the region, establishing the region enough for British fishermen to arrive.
Today, the region’s natural resources are still the main draw for the few workers of the region (in 2015, Labrador’s unemployment rate was over double the Canadian average). From the iron-ore mines of the interior, to the rapidly expanding production of hydroelectric power harnessed from the Churchill River, it would seem that the fruits of nature are the only thing keeping Labrador’s economic heartbeat alive.
Those same natural resources that some see in the name of economic benefit are also what prompted a group of five kayakers to make the drive north to this wildly untouched wilderness, in search of unexplored rivers.