Before there was industry, land claims, or mass settlement in Labrador, there was Very Rough Country.
Martha MacDonald, the associate director of the Labrador Institute, has brought together a collection of maps, photos, stories and essays in a publication that merges the academic with the traditional, the explorer with the native, and the past with the present.
This collection, Very Rough Country: Proceedings of the Labrador Explorations Symposium, is an introduction to Labrador history, culture and exploration; it is a complement to the academic literature that currently exists about Labrador, and it is an informative, exciting and emotional adventure that takes the reader through the Labrador wilderness.
The Labrador Explorations Symposium took place in June 2005 as part of the celebrations for the centennial of Mina Benson Hubbard's journey from North West River to Ungava Bay. Hubbard undertook this pilgrimage to finish that of her husband, Leonidas Hubbard, who had died while trying to make the same journey.
The Town of North West River, the Labrador Heritage Society and the Central Labrador Economic Development Board undertook a number of events to mark this centenary and approached Memorial Universitys Labrador Institute to organize a scholarly symposium that would bring together people with a strong interest in Mina Hubbard's party and their achievements.
It became apparent that the symposium topic could be extended to a number of other adventurers who had tried their luck and skill against the Labrador wilderness. The symposium also examined exploration from the viewpoint of people whose roots go deep in Labrador: the Innu, Inuit and Metis travellers who know the country with an internal map, but whose peregrinations can be ranked as exploration all the same.
Very Rough Country revisits the great adventures of outside explorers and provides a venue through which Labradorians have told their unwritten stories of land and the eternal attraction of the unknown. Editor Martha MacDonald has been interested in Labrador history and exploration since she first arrived from Nova Scotia in 1988.
I realized then how recently people were still living a very traditional life, she says.
Very Rough Country shows how many other people have also been fascinated by the quality of the unknown in Labrador that persists to this day. Ms. MacDonald credits Jennifer Butler Wight, also of the Labrador Institute, for her impeccable copy-editing and citation skills that helped to bring the book to fruition.
Most of the funding for the symposium was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under its Northern Research Development Program. Other partners in this venture were the Labrador Heritage Society, the Central Labrador Economic Development Board and the Town of North West River.
The book can be purchased directly from the Labrador Institute by contacting Beatrice Dickers at firstname.lastname@example.org
. It retails for $20 per copy.