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Labrador West Pioneers: Gordon and Stella Avery

Gordon and Stella Avery
Gordon and Stella Avery - Gary Shaw

This version of our Labrador West Pioneer’s is a story of a truly remarkable couple. Gordon first came to Labrador to work on the Twin Falls project in 1958 and ‘59. He returned to the island at the end of this project and came back to work on the Churchill Falls project in the early 1970’s.

When Gordon returned home to Ivany’s Cove Newfoundland, located between Hillview and North Branch, he and his wife Stella made the decision to make a move to Labrador West and give it a try and see how things were going to work out in 1975.

One of the factors in this incredible leap of faith was that they moved, lock stock and barrel with six children between the ages of four and 13 to Labrador West. It must have worked for them, they are still here.

They began their time in Labrador West with their six children in a rented house for a time and then to the Trailer Court. From there, they purchased their home on Balsam Street in Labrador City, where they have remained to this day.

Gordon worked 25 years for the Iron Ore Company of Canada until his retirement. They have been blessed with 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren during their 58 years of marriage so far.

They look back on all of the years in Labrador West with great fondness as they have lived an incredible life of shared passion for the great outdoors and all of the treasures it has held for them.

Together in the early years they packed up their gear and all six youngsters and boarded the train to be dropped off at Demille Lake and then hike the trail for 1.5 miles to the shores of Shabogamo Lake and set up camp for a big family time of fishing.

When the road and the bridge crossed the Ossak in ‘93, they quickly broadened their territory to explore all of the new fishing and hunting opportunities that this new access offered them.

They were quick to pass on the passion and lessons of the “Big Land” to the youngsters who have to this day embraced it as an important part of their lifestyle and are now passing it on to their children.

Gordon and Stella are now respectively 81 and 77 years of age. This age doesn’t seem to play any negative roll in their desire to be nestled away at their cabin. They can’t wait to pack up and head into their cabin — the 75 kilometres each way with the snowmobile and sleigh full of gear into their cabin at the Simms River on the Esker Road is clearly the wheelhouse to the true happiness they continue to share with each other.

They have both solar and wind power, a satellite radio and a big woodpile for warmth from the stove — all the comforts required for a great time together at the cabin.

Stella is quick to say that although she spends a fair amount of time knitting and crocheting, she spends equal time outside.

Gordon is just as quick to say that Stella has been his partner at his side hunting, fishing and trapping together over all of these years.

They grow their own potatoes and gooseberries and pick the berries the “Big Land” offers up each year. They also share a Labrador coast and Northern Peninsula adventure each summer for the salmon fish and all of the other adventures that a time out there gives them. No story of Gordon and Stella can be told without the mention of their constant companion, Maggie, the dog who shares all of their adventures with them.

As always, the final question to them, any regrets in the twists of fate that has given them their lives in Labrador? They both laughed and looked at each other and said together, not one.

Don’t forget, aged 81 and 77 and the enthusiasm of teenagers, for their next adventure on the “Big Land”. Wow, what a wonderful, shared story.


More by Gary Shaw:

Labrador West Pioneer: Ken Pafford

Labrador West Pioneers: Peter and Josephine Rogers

Labrador West Pioneers: Ray and Edith Freake

Labrador West Pioneers: Joe and Patsy Purcell

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