"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Answer period

Pig has a question:

Why does the [Strait of Belle Isle] ferry go to Quebec anyway? I know it's only a difference of hundreds of metres but I've wondered why not have the boat to go to Labrador.
Well, Pig, the ferry actually goes to St. Barbe. (Ha!)

But, seriously, folks:

Back in the day, the Northern Peninsula and Labrador, like other areas, were served by a coastal boat service. As roads were built throughout Newfoundland, and in the Labrador Straits, during the 1950s and 1960s, the CN Marine services were removed from newly-connected communities.

In 1966 or 1967, after a gravel road was extended up the west coast of the Northern Peninsula, the government of Newfoundland (as it then was) installed a ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle, the first regular ferry (as opposed to coastal boat) to serve the run. True to cheap Newfoundland government form, the “ferry” was a rotting hulk, built in the 1800s, imported from Norway, and, as there was no suitable provincial government wharf in any community along the Labrador Straits, the mainland terminus of the service was instead made Blanc Sablon, where a useable federal government wharf was already in place.

After running the service for a year or two, faced with (justifiable) demands for a modern ship, and the apparent surprise that it costs money to operate public services, the Smallwood government started fishing around for a way to pawn responsibility off on the federal government. And, as the following letter from Smallwood shows, they found it.

Transport Canada soon after assumed responsibility for maintaining the Straits ferry service, and provided it through contract operators until 1997. That is when the Straits ferry, along with the Labrador coastal service, the Goose Bay-Cartwright-Lewisporte ferry, and a number of wharves and terminals, were transferred to the provincial government under the Labrador Transportation Initiative.

This is from a file in Library and Archives Canada. Click to enlarge the page images:


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