My Visit to Churchill Falls!

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.

The road ahead

The road ahead

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.

Before and after

Before and after

Shannon trying his hand at winning a stuffed animal

Shannon trying his hand at winning a stuffed animal

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.

The famous bottle at the falls

The famous bottle at the falls

A couple of Groves guys

A couple of Groves guys

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.)

Shannon and Frank

Shannon and Frank

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.

You have to keep to the left (and vehicles drive on the left, too)

You have to keep to the left (and vehicles drive on the left, too)

Underground, there are some holes in the wall, filled with money–an old miners’ superstition!

Money in the holes

Money in the holes

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.

Me at the end of the tour

Me at the end of the tour

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!)

On the way back

On the way back

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.

Thanks again!

Aimee

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5 Comments

Filed under Aimee, travel

5 responses to “My Visit to Churchill Falls!

  1. Mary Ellen

    Aimee, you should tell the crowd at Churchill Falls that they shouldn’t be using those magnetic albums for their old documents!

    • I know! I almost did…and I was telling Shannon about it when we were driving back. I’m planning to give them a little lesson in what they should do to preserve their documents on display! (Need some UV film on the glass case too, I think!)

  2. David

    Nice. John Groves was a trapper well known in the 1930’s. He married Barbara Mundy from New York whom was working as a WOP for the Grenfell Mission. Anne Budgell had just written a book and has some pictures when They made a summer excursion up the river from Goosebay to see the famous falls. I wondered what happened to the bottle and the list. Nice tour.

    David

  3. David

    Actually, I made a mistake…Russell Groves had signed the list alittle later whom was married to Barbara Mundy. But also a trapper From Goosebay like John.

    • Hi David–you are right about the Groves being trappers from Goose Bay! (Also, you’re right–it was Russell that married Barbara.) I’m a Groves descendant myself, so it was pretty fun to see one of my relatives on the display!

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