Day 13 |
Aug 11, 2008

Hopedale, Labrador, Canada

By Susan Langley, Historian

Co-ordinates: 55° 27 ‘ N, 060° 12’ W

While most of us luxuriated in a slightly later rising than usual, as we were scheduled for a noon arrival in Hopedale, the dedicated birders and early birds of other sorts enjoyed a continental breakfast in the Observation Lounge. For those preferring the usual generous choices of breakfast in The Restaurant, there was time for a second cup of coffee before joining marine biologist Nancy Mann in The Theatre for a fascinating examination of the biology of toothed and non-toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Although a little drizzly, this faded as we landed on the rocky shore of Hopedale, Labrador, where our guides and hosts, as well as a gaggle of adorable Inuit children, waited to greet us. The kids were as cheerful as they were curious and quickly adopted crew, staff and guests as pals. The largest collection of buildings in this town of barely 600 people was the Moravian Mission complex. While one group toured the small three-storey museum, the other was provided with the history of the region in the church. As Hopedale is above the tree line, the buildings were pre-fabricated farther south and then disassembled and the timbers shipped to the town, construction and assembly notations are still visible, carved into the beams and timbers. Founded in 1782, Hopedale is one of only two Moravian mission towns still in existence; the other is Nain to the north.

When everyone had had the opportunity to tour these structures, we made our way across town to the school, which dominates the landscape on a rise over looking the town. There we were entertained by a group of students who belong to the Junior Canadian Rangers and who demonstrated drumming and athletic events from the Arctic Games. In addition, local artisans and craftspeople offered for sale carvings, jewelry, beadwork, books, and skin bags.  

Free time permitted exploration of the town individually or in smaller groups. Some of us sought out ATMs, telephones (although many cell phones started to work at this point), postal services and similar necessities. Others checked out the local stores, the construction site for the new legislative center, the incredible geology of the area or chatted with local residents including the two female Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officers, the artists and shopkeepers. Still others played with husky dogs, or the children, some of whom were given Zodiac rides around the harbor. Some of the guides compared notes with our ornithologist and marine biologists.

In the late afternoon, the drizzle commenced again and quickly became a soft but steady rain. As they collected back at the landing, guests were returned to the Prince Albert II where they were greeted aboard, as always, by Karolina with champagne and various warm libations to dispel any chill. Shortly, everyone was aboard in time for the usual, consistently welcome, tea and music in the Panorama Lounge.  

We then relaxed or collected in the Panorama Lounge for pre-prandial cocktails and to listen to Daryl’s wonderful keyboards and to chat about the day’s adventures, finds, and bargains. I have been trying to post the Olympic medal tally daily and so this generally evokes some discussion and much good-natured ribbing as to the placement of various nations and events. As Canada has yet to medal, I am trying to keep a low profile.

What more can be said about yet another fabulous dining experience in The Restaurant, except that it met and exceeded expectations as always and engendered the usual praise. The evening was capped by some rousing fun in the Panorama Lounge as Daryl hosted an “Open Microphone Night.” We discovered the depths of the talent in our midst, especially when one of the guests, Mr. Chris Kraus, took over the keyboard as well as the microphone and provided much merriment in treating us to a couple of songs by Tom Lehrer. Although the cloud cover ensured that there would be no chance of viewing the Northern Lights tonight, the songsters didn’t seem to mind this evening.