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WILD LABRADOR

Adventures in the Upper Right Corner

Story by Dan Bailey August 26th, 2015

The Big Land

This past July, I visited the region of Labrador with Adventure Canada and Fujifilm North America as a guest photography guide aboard the 198-passenger expedition ship, Ocean Endeavor. During our 12-day trip, we sailed around most of Newfoundland before skirting alongside the entire coast of Labrador, which comprises the upper right corner of the North American Continent.

Often referred to as The Big Land, Labrador is truly a wild place, with wide open landscapes, an unforgiving climate, a forbidding, rocky coastline, few towns, no cities, only one main road that traverses through millions of acres of muskeg forest, and an endless supply of murderous mosquitos and incessantly annoying black flies. The territory has a population of less than 30,000 people living in an area the size of New York State and New England, many of who are native Inuit.

Here are just a few of the photos I shot during my visit to this incredible, rugged place.

A view of Paul Island in the fog, near the town of Nain, Labrador.

not the safest place to sail

Although Labrador has a long maritime history, the combination of rocky coastlines, often stormy weather and thick fog often make for treacherous sailing conditions, as can be seen in the southern town of Red Bay. Conditions only get worse as you travel farther north.

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Icebergs

The entire coastline of Labrador boarders “Iceberg-Alley.” It’s not uncommon to see enormous chunks of ten thousand year-old ice that have calved off from the Greeland Ice Sheet floating by.

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The town of Nain

Nain is the northernmost town in Labrador, and it’s only accessible by boat or air. (Weather permitting, Twin Otters fly into Nain every day and land on the 1,984-foot long gravel strip.) Most of the 1,100+ residents are full Inuit or are descended from the Inuit peoples who have inhabited the northern coast of Labrador for thousand of years. Nain is also the administrative capital of Nunatsiavut, which is the name for the traditional and autonomous Inuit region of Labrador. Nunatsiavut means “Our Beautiful Land” in the native Inuit language of Inuttut.

The town of Nain, Labrador.
The local biker gang.
The Nunatsiavut Brass Band, playing Morovian hymns.
Inuit girl in Nain, Labrador.
View from the hills just above Nain.
Evening light on the town of Nain.

The Torngat Mountains

Extending all the way to the very northern tip of Labrador and across into Quebec, the dramatic Torngat Mountains are the oldest mountains on earth, and the highest peaks in eastern continental canada. Estimated to be 3.6 billion years old, they’re just a few hundred million years younger than the plant itself.

Filled with stunning landscapes, and wildlife such as caribou, polar bears and large, aggressive black bears, Torngat Mountain National Park offer opportunities for truly remote adventure and exploration… providing you can get yourself there, hire a local bear-guide and be prepared for extremes of weather any time of year.

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The many layers and geologic folds of the Torngat Mountains.
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Nachvak Fjord in Torngat Mountains National Park.
Peaks at the edge of Nachvak Fjord in Torngat Mountains National Park.
Landscape near Eclipse Bay in Torngat Mountains National Park.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the Adventure Canada Staff for getting us there, keeping us safe and for putting together an amazing adventure in a truly gorgeous and remote part of the world. I feel very fortunate to have seen Labrador and I can’t wait to go back. Also, many thanks to Fujifilm and Adventure Canada for bringing me on as a guest guide and for allowing me to teach photography in such a beautiful setting.

Finally, thanks to all of the wonderful artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and new friends I met during the trip. You helped make it that much more memorable. If you find me here, please keep in touch.

Caribou antler.
Zodiac Driver, Daniel Freeze.
Zodiac Driver and Biologist, Sarah Gutowsky
Derrick Pottle, Culturalist and Bear Monitor.
Stefan Kindberg, Expedition Leader and Author, Terry Fallis.
David Newland, Zodiac Driver and Expedition Host.
Canadian Filmmaker, Jenina MacGillivray
"Fujiguys" Billy Luong.

Farewell...

View of a distant iceberg as we sail around the northern tip of Labrador at sunset.


As I said, this is but a small selection of images from the trip. I plan to publish an ebook later this fall or winter which will provide full photo documentation about how I created these (and more) images, as well as much more detailed information about Labrador, its geology and culture. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading.

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Footnote: All photos shot with the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T10 during July, 2015.