Trans-Labrador Highway

Central & Western Labrador

July 2000

(Page 4 of 5)


Trans-Labrador Highway

km15 Labrador City, and a branch road to Wabush.  Both of these towns exist because of mining.  In fact, it's the site of Canada's largest iron ore mine.  All of the usual services are available here.
As you leave Labrador City you are presented with these signs.

The yellow one is a "Driver's Alert":  There's no gas, no services, no nothing, until you reach Churchill Falls, 240km away.

Gravel road for the next 535 km.



Just mile after mile after mile of spruce trees, rocks, low hills, and bogs.

And dust.

And the SILENCE.

Here's where the SILENCE of this land really starts to hit home.  The only sounds are the occasional bird song and the breeze (if there is any).



It was very hot as I drove across Labrador, with very little breeze.  I heard later that it had reached 30 degrees C. under a perfectly clear sky.

The blackflies in Labrador are something else!!  I thought I was used to them from spending so much time in northern Ontario.  Hah!  The Labrador blackflies seem to be more venomous than those I have encountered elsewhere.  They are also quicker.  It was impossible to be outside for more than 10-15 minutes unless there was a breeze.  I took to cooking my main meal of the day at lunchtime, after first searching out a location that had at least a little breeze.  Then I would eat leftovers or a sandwich for supper while sitting in the car.


The road continued to be very empty.

Whenever another vehicle passed going the other way, a dense cloud of dust hung in the air for some time afterwards, creating white-out conditions.

Notice the dust cloud raised by this approaching vehicle.


Here the highway crosses the Churchill River (what's left of it).

Although the river is reduced to a trickle by the diversion of water to the Churchill Falls generating station, the canyon and the falls are still an awesome sight.

Imagine what this river used to be like, with it filled bank-to-bank with water surging over these rocks!



Just downstream from here is the site of the (former) Grand Falls

And here is what the falls used to look like.



And here's what they look like today.

The trail to the falls is on the south side of the highway, at the west end of the bridge.  Don't be put off by the "trail closed" sign - it was put up because a plank bridge across a small stream is falling apart.


This is the canyon below the falls...

Churchill Falls town.  A small town of about 600, it is entirely owned and run by the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation (the power company).  This is your last chance for gas or other supplies until you reach Goose Bay, 288km to the east.

Churchill Falls receives an average of 5 meters of snow each year!  For this reason the houses are all built on only one side of each street - makes it easier to plow the snow.

The tour of the Churchill Falls generating station is worthwhile.  The actual generating station is almost 1000 feet underground.  You must book a spot for the tours (free) in advance, at the town office (which is pretty hard to find - ask someone).  I was lucky - I walked in 10 minutes before a tour was to start and got to go on it.

This is a picture of the main transformer gallery.

And this is the generator room, where the power is actually produced.

All of this was drilled out of solid rock almost 1000 feet underground.

Most of the power is sent southward to Quebec.



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