This article covers a large rural area; the entire southern Labrador coast along the Strait of Belle Isle from Red Bay through Forteau, continuing to the end of the road at Blanc Sablon / Vieux-Fort, Québec.
Forteau and the string of oceanside villages along the Strait of Belle Isle have a long history of nomadic fisheries, including presence of various European fleets (such as Portugal), but the first permanent fishing villages were established from Newfoundland in the 1800s. The region serves as a point of entry to Labrador from Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula directly across the strait, and its economic ties therefore are closely intertwined not with Québec but with Newfoundland and Labrador.
As Forteau technically is a border community, its time zones are a bit confusing. The island of Newfoundland is GMT-3.5, with one hour of daylight savings time in summer. Board a ferry and Blanc Sablon (as part of a sparsely-populated fragment of Quebec east of Anticosti) is on Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4) year-round. As soon as the road leads back into Forteau, clocks return to Newfoundland Time through Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson. Further north into Labrador, Atlantic Time (AST/ADT) makes a reappearance, so Cartwright is in Halifax's time zone.
- Air Labrador, Blanc Sablon, toll-free: +1-800-563-3042. Coastal service which runs westward through multiple small villages with no road (a gap from Vieux-Fort to Kegasha) to an accessible point on the main road to Sept-Îles.
- Labrador Marine, ☎ +1 709 535-0810, toll-free: +1-866-535-2567 (NL only). Ferry from St. Barbe, Newfoundland to Blanc Sablon. Crossing time at least 1¾ hrs, depending on sea conditions, +1 709 877-2222 (St. Barbe) or +1 418-461-2889 (Blanc Sablon). In winter this runs Blanc Sablon-Corner Brook, substantially increasing trip duration and price.
- Relais Nordik, 17 Lebrun Ave, Rimouski, ☎ +1 418-723-8787, toll-free: +1-800-463-0680, fax: +1 418-722-9307. M/V Bella Desgagnés leaves Havre-Saint-Pierre, Québec each Wednesday morning on a four-day round-trip to Anticosti and various otherwise-inaccessible communities (La Romaine, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, Baie-des-Moutons and Saint-Augustin), eventually arriving in Blanc Sablon.
- The Trans-Labrador Highway (Route 510) follows the coast eastward from Forteau, turning north to Happy Valley-Goose Bay then west to Labrador City.
- A stub of Route 138 leads west from Blanc Sablon to Vieux-Fort, Quebec and abruptly ends; at this point, there is no road for almost 500km until Québec Route 138 resumes at Kegashka.
- Labrador Straits Museum, l'Anse-au-Loup. Established 1978 by Southern Labrador Women's Institute, exhibits and artefacts describe the local way of life over the last 150 years. A small souvenir shop carries local crafts.
- Middle Bay Interpretation Centre, Route 138, Middle Bay, ☎ +1 418-461-3597. Local marine history, Innu, Inuit, Basque, French and English cultural heritage.
- Point Amour Lighthouse, L'Anse-Amour Road (off Route 510), ☎ +1 709 927-5825, fax: +1 709 927-5833. An 1857 stone lighthouse (automated 1996) stands over a hundred feet tall, the highest in the province.
- Aqua Labadie Scallop Farm, 45, rue Mgr Scheffer, Blanc-Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-2434. Tour boats, sightseeing, oceanside eatery, fresh scallops (le pétoncle).
- Overfall Brook Trail, Forteau. One mile (1.5km) trail along the shoreline of Forteau Bay with a cliff face, a view of Point Amour Lighthouse in the distance and a waterfall (Overfall Brook Falls) which drops over the rocky cliff into the ocean. Exit Route 510 at intersection across from Town Centre, drive to Labrador Pioneer Footpath trail head car park overlooking Forteau Bay.
- Tour Labrador, 31 Main St, Forteau, ☎ +1 709 931-2840. Operates Lighthouse Gifts (at Point Amour Lighthouse) and various sea or hiking tours; an opportunity to dine at the lighthouse is offered a few times a year. The same owners run Food Chopper and Sea View Cottages, so the tours may be packaged with lodging in Forteau.
- Bakeapple Folk Festival, Labrador Straits Arena, L'Anse au Loup, ☎ +1 709 931-2042, fax: +1 709 931-2037. second weekend in August. A celebration of local heritage with folk singing, dancing, music, games, crafts, food, local specialties and entertainment. The bakeapple, or cloudberry, is popular in jellies, syrups and pies, which can be sampled in local stores and restaurants.
- Labrador Preserves Company, Forteau, ☎ +1 709 931-2743, fax: +1 709 931-2842. Bakeapple, partridgeberry and blueberry syrup and preserves.
- Poisonnerie Blanc Sablon, 1183, blvd Camille-Marcoux, Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-3212, fax: +1 418-461-2226. Fish market, will ship in frozen cargo to Natashquan, Sept-Îles or Rimouski.
- Food Chopper, 33 Main Street, Forteau, ☎ +1 709 931-2743, fax: +1 709 931-2842. 9AM-6PM, closed Sunday. Grocer and bakery under common ownership with adjacent Seaview Restaurant.
- Partridge Garden, Blanc-Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-2287. Seasonal (summer only).
- Seaview Restaurant, 31 Main Street, Forteau, ☎ +1 709 931-2840, toll-free: +1-800-931-2840. 9AM-10PM daily, 9AM-8PM in winter. Restaurant with fresh bakery bread, Outback Lounge pub, cottage rentals.
- Bar 138, 138, rue Camille Marcoux, Lourdes-De-Blanc-Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-2727.
- Hôtel Motel Blanc Sablon, 1043 boul. Camille Marcoux, Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-3222, toll-free: +1-866-461-9458, fax: +1 418-461-2908.
- Grenfell Hall B&B, 3 Willow Avenue, Forteau, ☎ +1 709 931-2916, toll-free: +1-877-931-2916. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Bed and breakfast in former Old Forteau Nursing Station, built by the International Grenfell Association in 1946, replaced by a modern hospital in 1983. Each of the five guest rooms is named after different staff or nurses. Seasonal (May 1-Oct 1), continental breakfast, shared washroom, TV in living room. $90/double, $160/two bdrm cottage.
- Northern Light Inn, L'Anse au Clair, Labrador, ☎ +1 709 931-2332, toll-free: +1-800-563-3188, fax: +1 709 931-2708. Hotel open year-round, restaurant with breakfast buffet, traditional Labrador cuisine, Greco Pizza and Chester Fried Chicken. $120-150.
- Auberge Motel Quatre Saisons, 2, rue Beaudoin, Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, ☎ +1 418-461-2024, toll-free: +1-866-472-4766, fax: +1 418-461-2007.
Cellular telephone coverage is sporadic to non-extant in Forteau (the only base station is Bell across the strait on the Great Northern Peninsula), although groceries, fuel, lodging and Internet access are available in the village itself. Venture further into rural Labrador and services at many points are limited to non-existent.
The Pinware River Provincial Park is roughly midway from Forteau to Red Bay (30-35km from each). There is one hotel nearby:
- Oceanview Resort, West St. Modeste, ☎ +1 709 927-5288, toll-free: +1-866-927-5288, fax: +1 709 927-5894. Check-out: 11AM. Ten-room hotel with four two-bedroom cottages, serviced caravan park for 5 RV's, laundry. Oceanview Restaurant serves traditional and local cuisine (seats 50). Patty's Lounge serves alcohol and bar food. Conference rooms for 25 to 225 people, souvenir shop. Bills one night stay to credit card at time of initial reservation; two-day/three-night packages for fishing and whale watching start at $525/double occupancy.
There is no fuel at West St. Modeste, Red Bay or Lodge Bay. There is a snowmobile dealer with propane, petrol and diesel in l'Anse-au-Loup, as well as a small grocer. Additional services are available in Forteau and Port Hope Simpson.
A tiny (population 227) fishing village 65km (43 miles) east of Forteau on Route 510, formerly the base for 15 ships and 600 men as a seasonal Basque whaling outpost on the Strait of Belle Isle in the mid-1500s.
- Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada, Red Bay, ☎ +1 709 920-2142, fax: +1 709 920-2144. mid-June to September, 9AM-5:30PM daily. Whalers from the Basque region (northern Spain and southern France) hunted right and bowhead whales for their oil by during the mid to late 1500s, using the sheltered harbour of Red Bay as a seasonal base of operation for seventy years until whales became scarce. A group of 1560s shipwrecks were discovered in 1978 and an underwater archaeological site established. The site includes remains of rendering ovens, cooperages, wharves, whale bones, living quarters and a cemetery. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the province (the others are Gros Morne park and l'Anse-aux-Meadows Viking settlement on the Great Northern Peninsula). $7.80.
- Gull Island Charters, 18 East Harbour Drive, Red Bay, ☎ +1 709 920-2058, e-mail: email@example.com. Water taxi service to Saddle Island for Red Bay National Historic Site ($3/passenger), sightseeing trips with icebergs, whales and wildlife.
- Whaler's Station, 72-76 West Harbour Drive, Red Bay, ☎ +1 709 920-2156. Three room inn on waterfront, with a guest house and a lone housekeeping cabin on the main road. Whaler's Restaurant serves fish and chips, local cuisine and desserts with hand-picked wild berries (bakeapples, partridgeberries and blackberries) for up to sixty people, with boxed lunches available for take-out. A souvenir shop carries postcards, books about the local area, T-shirts, weatherproof jackets and clothing. Labrador crafts, knitting, slippers, jewellery and soapstone carvings.
|Routes through Forteau|
|Blanc-Sablon ← ←||W NE||→ Red Bay → Port Hope Simpson|