There is no better representation of a true Labrador West pioneer than Bridget Corcoran. Her story, the life’s journey that she has experienced in Labrador West, is in anyone’s book, an extraordinary life adventure lived by this very humble and gracious lady.
Bridget is 92-years-old. She began her journey from Coots Pond, St. Mary’s, Newfoundland, to Labrador with her husband Peter with a two-year stint in Schefferville from 1959 to 1961. Schefferville and the work it provided in the mining sector was the magnet that drew this young family to the north. A huge move for anyone at that time considering they had three youngsters in tow.
After their two years in Schefferville, they packed their bags and their youngsters and came to Labrador City with work for Peter at I.O.C. Bridget chuckled as she explained their arrival date. Only time would tell, it was April 1st, 1961, April fools day.
They arrived at their new home on Marconi Street with their young family and steady employment at I.O.C. Labrador City was in its infancy in those days for sure. No roads in or out, dirt roads and all of the conditions that represented a new frontier mining community.
One more child would follow for a new total of four youngsters to be responsible for in their new community. Their eldest daughter, Janet, attended the first Kindergarten class in Labrador West.
The youngsters all had their schooling while household supplies and groceries were handed out at the train station, it was the hub of transportation, and was the distribution site for everything they needed to live their lives in this new and growing community.
The children played at the playground by the present day location of Centennial Park where Bridget remembers an old metal stagecoach that the youngsters played on. Bingo was a big and popular draw at the Parish Hall.
The Royal Theatre was the real deal when it opened its doors. An evening at the movies was incredibly popular with everyone. It was a great night out for the admission price of 25 cents.
Peter set out on his own with a construction and maintenance company in 1976 and worked within his own business until his retirement.
He was a fisherman and hunter at heart and the whole family was always eager to participate, it was an important part of their lifestyle and their community.
The arrival of each new season saw the whole family seizing the many opportunities that the season would bring. I.O.C. would have a train scheduled with a coach car that would leave on Friday and take everyone down to the Ashuanipi River and pick everyone up for the return trip home on Sunday evening. They did it all. Fishing speckles, lake trout and Ouananiche were always on their list. Berry picking was a regular part of the fall trips with the memories of picking the partridge berries with snow covering the ground was not an uncommon event.
Later in the fall and into the winter, snaring rabbits and hunting ptarmigan filled their days as they waited for the arrival of the caribou. All of these trips were spent as a family, sharing the adventures of the trip as well as the bounty of the fine meals that they brought home from the land and the water.
Looking back over the 57 years that Bridget has given to us in Labrador West, and Labrador has given to her, she sums it up by saying simply, I have no regrets. She has raised her family of four children, three girls and one boy. Two children are still in Labrador West, one in St. Johns, and one in Fort McMurray. They were raised in a safe and wholesome place. They lived well and are now passing on their lives’ lessons. They are now passing this on to her five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
I spent three times as long as necessary chatting with Bridget on the contents for this story. What a great gift to all who read her story, told through the lens of one of Labrador West’s incredible ladies.