Longing for Labrador

by: Alannah Gamblin-Jensen

Recently I was asked by the Women’s Outdoor Alliance to collaborate on a piece for Expedia, sharing Canada’s Best Playgrounds according to locals. I was actually SUPER DUPER STOKED by the way! I have been following them for awhile and LOVE THEM!  Here is the full article – I recommend checking out the other amazing places listed within too! I have been to most of them so I  can certainly agree that the list captures some real gems in this great country. And of course after driving across Canada I felt I could have written about any place I saw along the way to be honest. Just an FYI – Saskatchewan STOLE MY SOUL. Gosh darn it! I really loved Saskatchewan!  I wrote my piece with vigor and passion and this is what spewed from my heart! For their article’s sake it was condensed, so I thought per our blog mandate of “inner journeys and outdoor world” I would share the entire piece with you on this rainy Sunday  afternoon {where I am anyway}.

Photo Credit - Mike Hynes
Photo Credit – Mike Hynes

Labrador, Oh Labrador – Wait! Isn’t that a dog breed?

No! I mean – yes it is – a beautiful, sweet dog breed! Labrador is also the name of a majestic, glorious destination where my heart sings and my soul breaths. Labrador, the place, has the same effect on me as Labrador the dog breed does! It gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling even if the average temperatures are…..well….not so average after all.

Labrador is where I am from, born and raised for the first 20 years of my life. I call myself a product of Labrador as this is the place where being an outdoor enthusiast is simply “a way of life” and this way of life has shaped me from head to toe. It has helped define my attitude towards the outdoors, inspired my appreciation for Mother Nature, given me motivation to push boundaries, and the gumption to keep on keeping on. It helped produce me – the entire package – a very hearty, grateful package. I have seen it shape many a healthy woman and with that a fierceness like no other – you should be lucky, I think, to know a true-blooded Labrador woman.

The area is vast with many pleasantries for the eyes. It is often referred to as Canada’s last frontier, Cain’s Land, the Big Land and mostly as untouched, raw beauty. It is expansive in its size and in its opportunities for exploration. This place truly makes you feel like you are the first to set foot and discover the uniquities in the landscape, the rivers and lakes, the wildlife, even if it was discovered by the Vikings about 1000 AD. It is extraordinarily rich in history, heritage and culture, including several Native tribes, and is the oldest “discovered” place in Canada (The Americas even) – however it is part of Canada’s youngest province. Strange but true – Newfoundland and Labrador only became a part of Canada in 1949.

The summers have long, sun-filled nights that run into morning yet somehow still allows time for some of the most artful of sunrises. The winter skies invite you to play and dance along with the Northern Lights and each step on the sparkling snow makes an echoing crunch sound in the silence of the stars. While the Spring and Fall are shorter seasons, they are equally as stunning with abundance in fresh life, colour and crispness.

While you are embraced in the arms of her beauty, Labrador is filled with adventure opportunities all year round. Some of the best Nordic tracks exist here, snowmobile trails are plentiful and the powder snow is what Alpine skiers dream of. You can snowshoe, ice fish, dog sled even go out and build an igloo!

The rivers and lakes – oh the rivers and lakes! Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, {brisk skinny-dipping}…it’s all here. You can plan a whole summer camping, canoeing and portaging across this Big Land. Hiking and biking trails with waterfalls are standard! And, whether you are a soft explorer or a hard-core adventurist, you will all discover something in Labrador that will fill your heart and along the way you are sure to learn more about yourselves no matter when you choose to visit this land.

Photo Credit - Larry Jenkins
Photo Credit – Larry Jenkins

There is nothing fancy about Labrador – It’s an “is what it is” kind of place and that’s what is so cool about it. Her rawness speaks for itself and why compete? You can be the most famous person in the world and it won’t matter here. You get what you get. Let’s face it – the ski hill in western Labrador is considered vintage and that is the charm. Pure passion keeps it alive. The normalcy is refreshing in fact and if you are willing to go there be ready to be invited into people’s homes for a kitchen party or two! After all, it’s those products of Labrador who will help make your experiences there that much more memorable.

And why not look into those Torngat Mountains {place of spirits}, fjords along the most eastern northern tip of Labrador and also Canada’s newest National Park? Sounds like an expedition perfect for me…. so if you go…. let me know – it is on my Get It Done list! Did I mention the icebergs? And speaking of spirits, “they” make vodka from icebergs too….just saying!

Now here’s the catch! This is Labrador as I remember it. I have not been home since my son was 3 months old and he will be 12 in a couple of weeks. I would jump at any opportunity to go “home” and to really peel back the layers exploring that place in its entirety. Imagine the possibilities! The idea of going home just makes my eyes tear up. As I mentioned the Torngats are a huge dream of mine and are definitely on my Inner Journey | Outdoor World list. 

I also want to thank everyone who pulled through to help me get my last minute piece together. Great friends in great places with great photos – Rikee Keats & Brent Coish, Angela Williams, Dana Martin-Kelly, Ruth Simmons, Larry Jenkins, Mike Hynes and everyone else who rallied! 

Here is the rest –

Getting there:

Step 1 – take me.

Step 2 – check out these websites.



Tips (gear to bring, ways to travel, prep):

Labrador does have some outfitters / guides throughout with the right kind of gear for many experiences, however it is a no frills kind of place as I mentioned so if you are planning a long haul expedition adventure – bring all your own gear.

Personally I would drive into Labrador and pack lots of gas and all my own gear for EVERYTHING possible! I know that is not often realistic so before you go check out all the areas you intend step foot in and see what can be rented, purchased on site or shipped to your destination. This is the kind of place where you need online investigation and orientation skills to navigate your plan – a lot of this area remains untapped both the landscape and online, keeping it the true gem it is. Once you have researched and uncovered the assets I think you will be very rewarded with what you unearth!

Also, there are fishing and hunting lodges throughout – accessible by snowmobile or water plane. If you have the dough – I would go and experience a backcountry fishing or hunting lodge. Many celebrities have quietly explored Labrador’s back woods this way.

Always bring a fishing rod. And bug spray – The natural stuff won’t work either. Trust me – I planted trees one summer.

Don’t make fun of the accents – remember I told you there is a fierceness there – and be prepared to be Screeched in, if by the stroke of luck you get invited to a kitchen party. And real – just go with it – it is part of the experience. You might get served Caribou too. Or salmon – both if you are lucky!

0 Responses

  1. Kate M.

    I’m in. Sign me up! I have yet to experience the kitchen party so definitely need to make it back out east on my own time.