Book II : Labrador
Monday, June 20
At the end of the long drive up highway 389 in Quebec, we finally reached the Labrador Border.
Not long after crossing the border, we reached the western-most community in the province: Labrador City, created out of the bush in the 1960s, was another iron-ore-based community. It was created, along with the nearby town of Wabush, by the Iron Ore Company of Canada to house workers and their families. As you can see, this general area (Western Labrador and adjacent Quebec) is very rich in iron ore. In fact, most of Canada's iron ore output comes from this region.
We stopped in Labrador City's small shopping center to pick up a few supplies, then had dinner at a local restaurant (a Pizza Hut - pretty much the only restaurant we could find).
With a good chunk of the evening still ahead of us, we had time to make more eastward progress. We were on the first part of the Trans-Labrador Highway now, heading more east than north. Our aim was to get as close as possible to the community of Churchill Falls before looking for a roadside camp spot. In lieu of being able to see the hydroelectric facilities at Manic 5, I had arranged instead to get a tour of the massive Churchill Falls generation station, and we had an appointment with a tour guide early the next morning in Churchill Falls.
As we drove east out of Labrador City, we were greeted with an unexpectedly nice highway. I had been expecting the stretch from Labrador City to Churchill Falls to be entirely gravel, but as we motored east, we were on a beautifully-finished modern highway. The surfacing, markings, railing, and signage were all new and in perfect condition.
The pavement continued for at least 80 or so kilometres before abruptly ending. It is clear, though, that this is an ongoing project: beyond the pavement's end, we could see survey lines, recent grading and blasting, widening, and ditch digging - all of the signs that this modern highway upgrade is going to continue inching eastwards over the next few years.
By 9pm, we had made good progress, and we were within 30 kilometres of the town of Churchill Falls. We started keeping an eye out for a suitable spot to stop for the night, and soon noticed a large gravel pit. We found an isolated corner of the pit, and, behind some nicely-concealing hills of loose sand, set up for the night.