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Hebron, Labrador - September 15, 2005

Anchoring in the bay with winds of 45 knots blowing from the south was not a trivial task. Later the captain confided that he had kept a constant watch on the anchor chain with the engines on standby in case we dragged. We bundled in full rain gear for the zodiac trip to shore.

The Moravian Church established a mission at Hebron in 1831 to educate and evangelize the local Inuit.

They built small frame cottages at Hebron to give the natives a place to live. These were completely nomadic people at the time. There is no fuel near Hebron so the agreeable natives accepted the cottages.

In winter they built igloos nearby to live in as they were so much warmer. In summer they pitched tents as they were so much cooler, and in the little cottages they kept their spare gear, meat, fish and such like, nicely out of the way of the dogs and weather.

- Letters of Leonard Budgell 1933-40.

In 1880, Abraham Ulrikab and his family were taken from Hebron to become an exhibit at the Hamburg Zoo. He chronicled his remarkable story in a diary that he kep in Inukitut, which has recently been translated and published.

In 1959, the Moravian Mission withdrew from Hebron, the Grenfell Association withdrew its nurse, and the government store was closed. The 58 families of Hebron were moved to other communities along the Labrador coast.

Maybe I've told you about a great heavy door in an old Moravian mission house on Labrador that opens. Never a sound, but it does open, and it isn't that it doesn't catch properly. The lock is a massive iron thing with a great bolt that falls into a deep socket. The house is huge. It used to shelter the whole mission and their families in separate apartments. I have been alone in that house, carefully closing the door when I went to bed, and just in case, putting a heavy chair against it. I didn't hear a sound but in the morning the door was open and the chair moved. In this case, there are old Moravian journals that go back to the early 1800's and they mention this wayward door. It never closes on its own, only opens. Go ahead, laugh, but it's true. I saw Bill Cobb last fall. He lived in that house in 1931 or 1932 and he told me about the weird door.

- Letters of Leonard Budgell 1933-40.

We noted a number of graves in the cemetery dating from 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu epidemic. A third of the Inuit population in the mission towns of Labrador succumbed to the disease that year.

During our visit, carpenters were busy reconstrucing the church building as part of a Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Project.

It looks like a road, but it isn't. This is an example of a geological dike formed by the intrusion of igneous rock between the older granite formations.

Continue to Day 9 - Hopedale

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