The Northern Ranger ferry service links the small, remote communities of Nunatsiavut during the summer months with a five day return trip from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Nain. This return trip affords you a rare opportunity to learn the history and culture of this region and the Labrador Inuit lifestyle.
Your journey will take you to the five communities of Nunatsiavut, where you will meet many local residents and learn about the history of the Labrador Inuit through stories, walking through historic sites of national significance, tasting local wild foods, looking for polar bears, seals, humpback and minke whales, and a variety of migratory bird colonies, and enjoying many of the local crafts of the region. During each community visit, you will witness how vibrant traditions and culture resonate within modern communities, all under the backdrop of a wild and majestic sub-arctic Labrador environment that profoundly contrasts with the Island of Newfoundland.
To book your Northern Ranger Experience please call Nunatsiavut Marine reservations staff at (709) 896-2262 or go on-line by visiting the Nunatsiavut Marine website.
Departing Happy Valley-Goose Bay at noon, you will cruise out Lake Melville with the Mealy Mountains towering in the southern skyline.
As you arrive in Rigolet (the most southerly Inuit community in the world) keep alert for Minke whale (locally called Grumpus) sightings as the ferry navigates through the islands near the community. Once in the community, visit the Net Loft Museum to learn of how important the Rigolet area was for trade in fish, fur, and whales with early European settlers and merchants. The community is also well known to have expert crafts people and artisans producing handcrafted saltwater grass pieces and authentic sealskin garments available at the dockside craft shop.
Overnight, you will sail north. Awaken your senses with an early morning stroll to the White Elephant Museum to explore the history of the community through hundreds of artifacts provided by the residents displayed in a turn of the century Moravian building. Listen and learn of the archeological significance of Makkovik in the establishment of the Moravian Church in Labrador.
Back onboard the ship and headed to your next stopover, Postville, you will be introduced to 'Uncle' Douglas Jacque, a local gem who at eighty-two years of age continues to maintain a Labrador husky dog team honouring the traditional practice of winter transportation. A respected storyteller, enjoy first hand stories of community settlement and youthful adventures from Uncle Jacque.
In the evening, you will arrive in Hopedale and learn first-hand of the incredible Moravian Mission legacy of historic buildings, artifacts, and museum exhibits from their work in the 18th and 19th century. Browse through the Hopedale Mission National Historic Site of Canada to learn more about one of the best European-Inuit contact stories on the Labrador Coast.
At midday you will arrive in Nain, a thriving Inuit community where Inuktitut conversations between elders bring old traditions, mysteries, and adventures alive and boast of recent hunts drying in the sun next to their homes. Welcomed by a performing brass band, tour historic Moravian buildings with a local chapel servant. Home to nationally recognized artisans, tour the craft shop and their home studios where they create pieces of traditional Inuit art from materials such as soapstone and caribou antler. Nain, the largest community in Nunatsiavut and the most northerly community in the province, is the administrative capital for the Nunatsiavut Government and the gateway to the Torngat Mountains National Park.
Continue your discovery of the Labrador Inuit and the adaptation of culture in modern living when you stop in Hopedale, Postville, and Makkovik again on the southbound journey back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
In Hopedale, take a tour of the Nunatsiavut Government Assembly Building, the centre of decision-making for our Inuit self-government. While in Postville, take the opportunity to interact with local residents known for their handmade crafts and the smoking of wild char and salmon flavored with locally harvested blackberry bushes. If you're lucky, someone may have some to share with you. In Makkovik, enjoy an escorted tour along a boardwalk offering an ocean view with young academics discussing the coastal flora and fauna or stop at the craft centre, the creative backdrop to the budding young artist community.
Spend your last morning in Nunatsiavut with a short hike along a portion of the second longest boardwalk in the world in Rigolet or visit the Strathcona House Museum, the resurrected home of Donald Smith, 1st Baron Stratchona, one of the British Empire's foremost builders, philanthropists, and iconic Canadian railway builder. Learn of Rigolet's World War 2 military role or of the pioneering Inuit that went to perform at the cultural showcases exhibited during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Enjoy the remainder of your day sailing back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Lake Melville. Take some time to chat with locals to learn the history of the many "cabin communities" that dot the coastline.