To step ashore on this little island is to slip back in time. Knit together with footpaths, the place echoes of a life long gone since the tragic decline of the cod fishery. John Slade & Company of Poole, England began operations here around 1750. Fishing vessels that worked the grounds all along the south coast of Labrador would use Battle Harbour as the main port for off-loading their catches and restocking with supplies. It was also a convenient stopping-point for vessels heading further north along the coast.
By the mid 1800s there were about 350 residents, a church and a new school. Within another 40 years or so, it even had a small hospital, part of the good works of the Grenfell Mission. It was here in 1909 that the northern explorer Robert E. Peary came with the famous Newfoundland navigator Captain Bob Bartlett to use the only telegraph station in Labrador to stake his claim on reaching the North Pole. It was global news shortly thereafter.
You step ashore on geological artwork - three billion year old gneiss run through with dark bands of basalt.
Because of the wonderful restoration work of the Historic Trust, the town was declared as one of Canada’s National Historic Districts in 1996. In 2002, it was awarded a prestigious Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
While roaming the hills on a previous visit, I came across this arctic fox so absorbed in its hunt that it was completely oblivious to my presence.
© Dennis Minty 2017