Labrador and Quebec – 29th May till 17th June 2024

After five wonderful weeks in Newfoundland, we cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the end of May. From St. Barbe, it is only a short crossing of one and a half hours to Blanc Sablon, in the far north of Quebec. We have to take advantage of the French flair and get some fresh croissants in a café. That's it for Quebec because just a few kilometers further on we are already in Labrador and find a dream spot on a lake where we stay for two days. The Trans Labrador Highway now lies ahead of us with a few small towns and otherwise a lot of nothing and endless forests. The highway ends after 1700 km at the St. Lawrence River in the province of Quebec. The most important thing is to have a full tank, as the next filling station can be more than 500 km away. There is only sporadic cell phone reception along the entire route and we use the police service and borrow a satellite phone from the Northern Light Hotel. It costs nothing and connects you directly to the Royal Canadian Mountain Police in an emergency.

In L'Anse Amour, we visit the highest lighthouse in the Atlantic provinces at 33m and spend the night at a trailhead in Red Bay with a great view over the bay. From there, we climb 689 steps all the way up to several beautiful viewpoints. A second trail leads along the sea to countless old whale bones and an iceberg. Red Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 16th century, the Basques hunted whales here and also processed them on the spot and transported the oil to Europe. At that time, millions of liters of lamp oil were needed, which was extracted from the whale oil. A 16-metre-long whale skeleton of a northern right whale is on display in the Town Center and there is an informative film about the whalers of that time. 


Then there is not much left to see and we step on the gas and cover the 500 km to Happy Valley Goose Bay in two days. All of Labrador's major land, air and sea routes come together in this town of just under 8,000 inhabitants. There is also a military airbase with the longest runway in North America. Bundeswehr pilots also train here. Further north, to the few Inuit settlements, you can only get from here by boat or plane.

We stay one night, fill up with fuel, replenish our supplies, do the laundry and then it's back on the endless highway through forest and tundra to Churchillfalls. One of Canada's largest hydroelectric power stations was built here in the 1960s. To distribute the electricity, 100-metre-wide aisles were cut through the forest for the electricity pylons over a length of more than a thousand kilometers. The powerhouse is located in an underground cavern the size of a 15-storey skyscraper. Unfortunately, we are unable to visit the gigantic plant due to service work.


We find a beautiful spot by the river and stay there for four days. The freezing cold that has accompanied us for the last 6 weeks has given way to summer temperatures and Manni's hammock is finally put to good use. As a special surprise, a black bear visits us and calmly walks alongside our car, but fortunately has no interest in us two-legged friends. 

On the way out of town, we walk a beautiful trail to a waterfall before setting off again. After an overnight stay at a lake where we can even swim, we reach Labrador City. It sounds like a big city, but it only has 7000 inhabitants. The town was founded in the 1960s to exploit the huge iron ore deposits in the area. The ore is mined in open-cast mines and as a result the area looks like a lunar landscape. Huge wheel loaders make our Monster Mobil look tiny in comparison. One wheel alone is as high as our car. A 400-kilometre-long railroad line to the St. Lawrence River in Quebec was built specifically to transport the raw materials. Otherwise, we have to fill up the tank and stock up on supplies before setting off on the last 500 kilometers.  

Shortly after the town, we leave Labrador and enter the province of Quebec, which also means that French is spoken, as we learn at the supermarket in Fermont. We cross endless forests and lake landscapes, mostly on gravel roads that are easy to drive on. There are also asphalt sections from time to time, but some of them are so uneven and with dips that you usually only see them when it's too late. A few kilometers away, but thankfully not on our route, we see the plumes of smoke from a large forest fire and the firefighting efforts by plane. By now we have summer temperatures of 25 degrees and thousands of mosquitoes are already looking forward to our visit when we arrive at a place to spend the night.   

200 kilometers before our destination, we pass Manic 5, the highest pillar dam in the world at 214 meters high and 1314 meters long. Unfortunately, we are too early there too, as the free guided tours don't start until the day after tomorrow. But from there, the road is paved throughout and in good condition and we reach Baie Comeau on the St. Lawrence River in the late afternoon. We are a little confused at first, because suddenly we are in city traffic with lots of cars, which we have to get used to again. In the past few weeks, we had mostly been traveling alone and encounters with other cars were few and far between. Now we spend a few days recovering from the long drive on a beautiful pitch with a view of the St. Lawrence River.  

Well recovered, we continue along the sea, a route that is also known as the Route of the Whales (Route de balenas). There is a beautiful viewpoint at Cap de Plaisir, but unfortunately you can only see the occasional whale blowing in the distance with a lot of imagination. On the way, we have to make repeated stops at the numerous fish markets and buy various local delicacies. Via the tourist town of Tadoussac, we quickly reach Quebec City. Just outside the city is the Montmorency waterfall, which plunges 83 meters into the depths. A cable car leads up from the parking lots and you can cross the waterfall via a suspension bridge and then descend a steep wooden staircase.   

We had already been to Quebec City on our last visit in 2018 and parked in the parking lot at the marina again. It's not a bargain, but everything is within easy walking distance. It's Friday evening and it's really busy. The weather is glorious and life is happening outside, making it feel like Paris. From the towering Grand Hotel Chateau Frontenac in the upper town, you have a wonderful view of the city and the harbor.   

The next afternoon, we continue towards Montreal. On the way, we find a wonderful grassy spot for the night in the small town of Grindine, where we can catch our breath before visiting Montreal, a city of millions. We park in a Walmart parking lot and can easily reach all the sights from there by metro. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. People enjoy life with good food and wine. There is not much to see downtown apart from the skyscrapers. It is currently a major construction site and even pedestrians have to take detours. In old Montreal and the harbor area, you feel more like you're in France with street musicians and nice pubs.  

The next day, we drive to the Olympic site, but even there we come across many construction sites. We would have liked to take the cable car up the 175m-high leaning tower that towers over the stadium, but you guessed it, it's closed for renovation. So we visit the Insectarium with a perfect presentation about the world of insects. It was really worth it. 

At 35 degrees, sightseeing is not really fun and after two days we are done with Montreal. Now it's on to the province of Ontario. As always, you'll find out what we experience there in the next blog.  

Our route for this part of the journey - 2800 km

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