Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the region in Canada. For other meanings of Labrador:
Labrador is a region on the easternmost coast of Canada. It forms the mainland portion of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, together with the island of Newfoundland from which it is separated by the Strait of Belle Isle. The region is part of the Labrador Peninsula.
The population of Labrador is 27,860 (2001 census), including some 30 percent Aboriginal peoples, including Inuit, Innu, and Métis. With an area of 294,330 km², it is the size of Italy. Its former capital was Battle Harbour .
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 Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador who, together with Pedro de Barcelos, first sighted it in 1492.
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 Ungava Peninsula with Quebec, although they were formally settled in 1927 by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
John James Audubon called Labrador "the most extensive and dreariest wilderness I have ever beheld".
Just as its island neighbour Newfoundland, human settlement in Labrador was historically tied to the sea as witnessed by the Montagnais, Innu and Inuit, although it has also been demonstrated that both the former also made significant forays throughout vast areas of the interior as well. European settlement was largely concentrated in coastal communities, particularly those south of Hamilton Inlet, 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 Railway 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 a strategic role 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 Chidley. This station only broadcast weather observations to the German navy for several months but was not discovered until the 1980s after a U-boat veteran mentioned its presence to Canadian authorities.
The US Army Flying Corps built a major air force base at Goose Bay, at the head of Lake Melville during the Second World War, largely because of the surrounding topography and access to coastal transport. Today, CFB Goose Bay is the largest employer for the community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay .
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 Wright , Schefferville , Labrador City, and Wabush 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 Iles, Quebec for shipment to steel mills in North America and elsewhere.
During the 1960s, a large dam was built on the Churchill River at Churchill Falls which resulted in the flooding of an enormous area - today named the Smallwood Reservoir. A hydroelectric generating station was built below the dam and a transmission line was built through Quebec to the North American electrical grid.
In the 1980s-2000s the Trans-Labrador Highway was built in stages to connect various inland communities with the North American highway network at Mont Wright, Quebec (which in turn is connected by a Quebec highway running north from Baie-Comeau, Quebec). 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 Isle and southeastern Labrador. It is worth noting that these "highways" are called so only because of their importance to the region; they would be better described as roads, and are not completely paved.
The Labrador boundary dispute
The tortuous border between Labrador and Canada was set March 2, 1927, after a 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 Council (in London), 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. However, this border has never been formally accepted by the Quebec government; sometimes a different border is shown on maps. The province's name change to Newfoundland and Labrador was meant to emphasize its claim to Labrador. (See Newfoundland and Labrador for more details.)
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 Nunavut 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. 
- 11th century : Probably visited by Leif Ericson. See Markland.
- 1492: Sighted by João Fernandes Lavrador
- 1498: Visited by John Cabot
- 1500: Visited by Gaspar Corte-Real
- 1534: Visited by Jacques Cartier
- 1763: Labrador is transferred from the French colony Canada to the British colony Newfoundland as per the Treaty of Paris.
- 1774: Labrador is transferred (along with Anticosti Island and the Magdalen Islands) to Quebec.
- 1791: Labrador becomes part of Lower Canada when Quebec is divided into two colonies.
- 1809: Labrador (from Cape Chidley to the mouth of the Saint-Jean River) is transferred back to Newfoundland.
- 1825: The north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence west of Blanc-Sablon and south of 52° north is separated from Labrador and transferred back to Lower Canada.
- 1927: The Labrador boundary dispute is settled.
- 1949: Labrador becomes part of Canada when Newfoundland joins Confederation.
- 2001: The province changes its name to Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace (ISBN 1404315373; July 2002)
- Labrador, Canada
- Project Gutenberg e-text of Dillon Wallace's The Lure of the Labrador Wild
- Labrador information page
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