11-Apr-2003 -- I (Calvin Poole) have known about the confluence project for about a year now and since I first found out about it I had it in the back of my mind to perhaps try and visit one of the confluences.
Being employed as a Fishery Officer with the Government of Canada, we make patrols in just about all the landmass of Labrador with perhaps the exception of the extreme northern areas. On April 11, 2003, we had a patrol planned to Chateau Pond, a large lake just to the west of the Coastal Labrador Highway, between Lodge Bay and Red Bay. Due to the extreme snow conditions experienced this winter this highway has been mostly closed for the past three months, despite the best efforts of the snow clearing team. However on April 11th the highway was open and we decided this was the day for our patrol.
At 0830 hr. Fishery Officer Carl Bradley and I departed our headquarters at St. Lewis, Labrador in the department’s 2002 Chevy Blazer, trailoring two Yamaha 410 Enticer snowmobiles. At 0900 hr. we met with Labrador Metis Nation Fishery Guardian, Trent Parr at the St. Lewis River Bridge, driving the LMN patrol truck with his Yamaha VK snowmobile onboard, for a joint patrol with us. We followed the highway south to a point on the highway at 52 degrees North. Here we offloaded our snowmobiles and prepared for our patrol to the 56-degree West confluence, which was 16.3 km to the east according to our Garmin GPS12.
The sky was clear but the wind had picked up to about 50 km. per hour and the temperature was –4 degrees Celsius. This was causing some very low drifting snow. Heading east we experienced some very hilly country with valleys leading through. Most of the terrain consisted of completely barren hills but there was an occasional bunch of black spruce in the valleys, especially surrounding the small streams and ponds. Due to the great amounts of hard packed snow that covered the land, snowmobiling was excellent despite the low drift. We proceeded to several hilltops to view the best route and by using our map and GPS, followed on east. At one point, we found ourselves on a big hill and to descend east we had to navigate along the side to find a place where we could safely come down. It was still quite steep and we found ourselves coasting down at great speed despite some controlling by applying our brakes. The land underneath the hill was open and fairly level so we arrived down without incident.
Following on we experienced no difficulty and finally arrived at the 56-degree West line. We were now on top of a barren hill, 800 meters south of the 52-degree confluence, overlooking the wooded valley of Temple Brook. We then followed north down over the hill and entered a sparsely wooded area of black spruce and followed our way down through the trees, checking the GPS as we went. Officer Bradley, who was in the lead using the GPS, stopped and told me we were within ten metres of the site. We then stopped our snowmobile and walked around until the GPS registered 52.000 degrees North and 56.000 degrees West, the time was 1145 hr. local time.
The accuracy of the Garmin GPS 12 was amazing in that it pinpointed the confluence to within half a metre. Several times we moved away from the exact location but the GPS brought us right back to the point, which was right on a large birch tree. We took pictures of each of us holding the GPS at the exact spot. Since this was a good sheltered location from the unrelenting wind, we decided to have our lunch. After eating I took a can, which had contained kippered herring fillets, and scraped the date and my name in it and nailed it to the birch tree as a marker. We then packed up our gear and proceeded on up through the trees to the top of the hill, where I took several pictures.
Our patrol continued on east on the south side of Chateau Bay to the site of a very old lookout that was established during the 17th century by the Royal British Navy. This site was used to spot ships approaching through the Strait of Belle Isle and from the North Atlantic. Apparently smoke signals were used to signal Fort York near Pitt’s Arm, which was about 6 km away, to warn them of approaching ships. The lookout consisted of a rock wall that surrounded a 10-meter square area on the highest hill in the area that offers a spectacular view of the strait of Bell Isle and the Henley Harbour area. Some of the wall has crumbled but much of it remains except to the south. A wood pole remains there that may have been used as a flagstaff.
The winds now were gusting to 70 km. per hour and the drifting snow had increased. We departed at 1330 hr. and patrolled back to our vehicles despite the very poor conditions. The GPS proved very valuable on our return trip as well because we returned back on a different route. This was new country to all of us and all of the huge barren hills began to look the same! Arriving back to the highway the winds were not quite so strong and the conditions were a little better. The temperature had now risen to 1 degree Celsius. We then continued on our fisheries patrol and visited three cabins located on Chateau Pond before returning to our vehicles and then back to our headquarters.
We are hoping that we may be able to access two more confluences in Southern Labrador at 53N57W (primary) and 53N56W (secondary) with the next year.