Spending a night or two on the island of BATTLE HARBOUR is one of the most memorable experiences in Canada. This beautifully restored fishing port is visited by towering icebergs in spring and humpback whales in summer; killer whales often cruise right off the dock. Established in the 1770s, Battle Harbour became one of the world’s busiest saltfish, salmon and sealing ports in the nineteenth century; Wilfred Grenfell opened a hospital here in 1893, it was home to a Marconi wireless station from 1904 and was the scene of Robert E. Peary’s first news conference after he conquered the North Pole in 1909. A devastating fire in 1930 exacerbated long-term decline, and by the late 1960s most residents had been relocated to Mary’s Harbour on the mainland – the last fish merchant was closed in the wake of the 1992 cod moratorium. Since then an epic restoration project by the Battle Harbour Historic Trust has resultedin a clutch of wonderfully evocative old wooden buildings opening to the public,a visitor centre and several walking trails; you can also stay in some of the old houses. Many of the former residents of the town serve as guides and are as equally absorbing as the site itself – prepare for seriously traditional Labrador accents.
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