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Pioneers of Canada - Labrador


The Labrador coast has been occupied for a very long time. Evidence of Maritime Archaic Native occupation, dating back at least 7000 years, has been found at L'ANSE AMOUR BURIAL SITE in the south. Labrador was likely the "Markland" of the Viking sagas, which described the anomalous silvery beaches near Groswater Bay. BASQUE fishermen established a great whale fishery, centered at RED BAY on the northeast coast of the Strait of Belle Isle, even before Jacques CARTIER explored the coast in the early 16th century.

Maritime Archaic culture was displaced about 4000 years ago by southward expansion of Paleoeskimos from the Arctic, who were in turn displaced by the ancestors of the MONTAGNAIS-NASKAPI and INUIT, PORTUGUESE explorers were active along the coast and the name "Labrador," which was first applied to the coast of Greenland, likely derives from the Portuguese explorer João FERNANDES, a lavrador or "landholder" in the Azores. Early European occupation was entirely focused on the coastal fishery and was fiercely opposed by the Inuit to the north and the Naskapi in the south. Control of the coast was contested by the British and French, but control by either was tenuous. In the early 19th century, thousands of New England fishermen and whalers descended on the coast annually.

The LABRADOR BOUNDARY DISPUTE was one of the most celebrated legal cases in British colonial history. Though Newfoundland's claim to the watershed of all rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean is recognized in the Constitution Act, many Quebecers still consider Labrador part of "Nouveau-Québec."

Click here for the pioneers of Newfoundand and Labador