The people of Labrador have lived off the land and sea for many centuries. They have dealt with harsh climates and have been strengthened by hard labour. They have never taken anything for granted. The manner in which people have travelled in order to both work and survive has changed drastically over the years. The Labrador Straits Museum helps portray the value of these changes to local history through exhibits and artifacts of past modes of travel.
Until the mid-1900s the main source of transportation in summer was by boat or by foot. People would use boats to go fishing and also to travel between communities to visit friends or gather materials for their homes. Walking was likewise a common activity as a means of collecting groceries, going to school and travelling within or between communities. In later years, people would stroll through the footpaths, or "pole-paths" as they were sometimes known, that followed the telegraph poles between the villages. Men would also walk far inland, sometimes for days on end, to hunt and provide for their family.
During the winter months dog-teams were used with sleds or "komatiks" to carry people over the snow and ice. It was a common practice, for example, to harness up a dog-team in order to attend a "time" or dance some twenty kilometres away. For several years dog-teams were also used with canvas boats to carry the mail across the Straits during the winter. It became a way of life that Labradorians grew accustomed to, and that helped shape their culture.
The first snowmobiles were introduced to the area in the early 1950s. Unlike modern snowmobiles, these were structured like small buses on tracks and could hold up to twelve people. These snowmobiles were not very practical, as it was difficult to climb over the many hills in the area. In 1953/54, snow-toboggans were introduced to the Labrador Straits. These were motorized vehicles that towed a sleigh and carried only one or two people. In 1956/57 snowmobiles, as we recognize them today, slowly began to appear.
Many aspects of life in the Labrador Straits changed after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949. In the 1950s air planes occasionally came to Labrador from St. Anthony to transport mail. Then, in 1955, a gravel road was started that would link all the communities from L'Anse au Clair to Red Bay eleven years later. The road allowed for the introduction of automobiles to the area in 1955/56.
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