"Central Labrador's Oldest Community!" North West River by jamiesno

North West River Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 54 photos

North West River

North West River is central Labrador's oldest community, just 33 kilometres away from Happy Valley - Goose Bay. North West River is also straight across the river from the Innu community of Sheshatshiu.

The community is a must see when you are in the central Labrador area. Spend the day and enjoy the beach!

For more information visit this web site at:

North West River, Labrador

For my Labrador page as a whole please visit this page:

Labrador, Canada

History Galore!

Northwest River (which was formerly known as Fort Smith) is a town with over 250 years of history. It was in 1743 that French fur trader Louis Fornel established a year round trading post at present day Northwest River.

The English took over the territory as spoils of war in 1763 and the region's vast salmon and cod stocks to supply its navy. Settlement, however, didn't start until until 1785, 10 years after Captain Cartwright began fishing and trading south of Hamilton Inlet. This first wave of European settlement lasted until 1835.
1836 marked the arrival of the Hudson's Bay Company. They established two main trading posts: one at Rigolet; the other at Northwest River. After buying out competing fur traders the Hudson's Bay Company enjoyed a trading monopoly that would last over ~100 years. It also sparked a second wave of European immigration and settlement.

Between 1848 and 1860 the Northwest River trading post was under the charge of Donald A. Smith (later Lord Strathcona). During his tenure he expanded the number of trading posts and proved the viability of raising vegetables and livestock in Northwest River. This prompted settlers to do the same and many began harvesting crops of potatoes, turnips and other hardy vegetables.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a wave of exploration of the Labrador interior. Northwest River was often the starting point for such explorations. A.P. Low of the Geological Survey of Canada spent many months in Northwest River during his expeditions between 1893 and 1896.

Hubbard, an editor for a New York outdoors magazine, also began his expedition into the interior waterways of Labrador from Northwest River. His fatal trip with companion Dillion Wallace became the subject of several books and articles and prompted international attention to Labrador and its people.

This period also saw the establishment of organized health care for Labrador. Sir Wilfred Grenfell, an English doctor, set up hospitals, nursing stations and boarding schools all along the coast. The organization he founded to support these endeavours, the International Grenfell Association (IGA) still exists as a foundation supporting health education and community projects with-in the area that Dr. Grenfell brought health care to nearly a century ago.

Grenfell was able to attract other doctors and nurses to come to Labrador to help with his cause. One such Doctor was Harry L. Paddon. In 1915, after having run the IGA hospital at Battle Harbour, Dr. Paddon established a cottage hospital in North West River. Over the years, this hospital grew to become one of the main centres for health care for the Labrador coast and along with a new boarding school and the continued expansion of the Hudson's Bay Company, helped Northwest River to become a thriving community.

The later half of the twentieth century saw the establishment of an air base at nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This meant an abundance of jobs for many locals and an influx of people moving from coastal communities to the Northwest River/Happy Valley-Goose Bay region. Since this time, Goose Bay has become the economic hub of central Labrador. Northwest River has remained small in size, but its history has made it one of Labrador's more interesting communities.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The people, the culture and the beach!
  • Last visit to North West River: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated Dec 18, 2004
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Reviews (19)

Comments (7)

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jul 12, 2005 at 12:58 PM

    Be still my heart! I don't know what entices me more, Miss Pork Island or the Innu doughnuts. You make me want to see Labrador more every time I read you pages. Kudos on another great page.

  • KayCus's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2005 at 4:09 PM

    Hey :). I live in Happy Valley, and was there for the beach festical. I love the pictures, and the site. I was wondering if you have more of the pictures? (Hoping to catch a glimpse of me and my friends ;)) Get back to me ok? <3

  • melissa_bel's Profile Photo
    Dec 30, 2004 at 3:05 PM

    What a neat little getaway place. I really liked your pictures of thre Beach Party. It gives a great glimpse in the life of the town.

  • easyoar's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2004 at 9:23 AM

    I was going to suggest that "Miss Pork Island" sounded a bit dodgy, and when I enlarged the photo, I found out that yes indeed it is! Nice tips!

  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2004 at 2:37 PM

    You live in a very lovely place! I have to ask - is your dog a Labrador Retriever? :-)) Rex

  • cazz38's Profile Photo
    Nov 13, 2004 at 5:19 AM

    A lovely page and pictures Jamie,there so interesting to read.

  • 78Eva's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2004 at 8:18 AM

    I totally love your northern travels!!!


“Little by little, one travels far. J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)”

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