I had a chance to go on a trip to Churchill Falls out of the blue with one of my former Inuktitut classmates, Shannon. He was taking his annual leave from work and wanted to have a vacation at home, exploring local things around town. He had an invitation to go visit a friend in Churchill Falls, so he decided to go, on a whim. And then, I joined him, on another act of whim!
I was excited to go meet some new people in Churchill Falls, sniff out some good stories, and learn more about the building of the dam and of the town. Shannon and I were booked in for a tour of the hydro facility.
It had been awhile since I had been out on the Trans-Labrador Highway, and I was impressed to see that it was almost completely paved. Except for a 60-km stretch close to Churchill Falls, it was all paved and all clear, no snow at all. So we got out there in only a few hours! Even the unpaved portion was pretty good.
When we got there, we went to the main building in town, met up with Shannon’s friend, Frank, and had a bite to eat at Midway.
We were then picked up at the main building by our very friendly and very knowledgeable tour guide, Karen. She showed us around town, and we watched a video and were shown displays of how the facilities work. Then we suited up in safety gear, and drove over to the main facility.
Inside the entrance of that building is a display of the famed bottle at the falls. This bottle was left by Bowdoin College students back in 1891, and then other people added their own names to the bottle, people like trappers and explorers, and, in later years, mostly prospectors and people surveying the falls.
Then we headed to the elevator, and headed down about 1000 feet underground! (Even so, we were about 400-and-something feet above sea level–the elevators are marked in height above sea level, not feet–they don’t call this the Height of Land for nothing.)
The tour was everything I could have hoped for. We got an overview of the mechanics behind the facility, interesting trivia, historical background, a guide to emergency procedures, and more.
Underground, there are some holes in the wall, filled with money–an old miners’ superstition!
Pretty much everything there is impressive–the scale of the facility is huge, and you find yourself amazed at just about everything in this engineering marvel.
Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better day in Churchill Falls. I met some really lovely people, learned a lot about Churchill Falls, and had a lot of fun. Thank you so much for taking me there, Shannon, and thank you to Frank for showing us a good time, and to Karen, for her very informative tour. (I used to be a tour guide myself, so I am very aware of the art of being a tour guide, and believe me, Karen is up there with the very best!)
And then it was back to Goose Bay. The unpaved portion of the road was a little rough by this time, because the day had been so beautiful and sunny, which softened the ground quite a bit. But all in all, it was again pretty good.