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Labrador West Pioneers: Claude and Joan Ste Marie

Claude and Joan Ste Marie.
Claude and Joan Ste Marie. - Gary Shaw

A lifetime of memories

LABRADOR CITY, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

Claude and Joan Ste Marie have quietly lived a very large portion of their lives in Labrador West. They were here in the early years and are a true representation of the definition of Labrador West pioneer and all that it stands for.

They make no effort to hide their age.

Claude is 87 years old and Joan is 79.

I once read that how a person feels about their age is clearly affected by one’s attitude. This definitely can be used as a unit of measure in Claude’s and Joan’s case. They smile constantly as they remember the challenges of years gone.

Claude arrived in Labrador West in 1958. He and Joan were married in 1959 and will celebrate 60 years of marriage next December.


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Joan arrived to stay permanently in 1965.

Their two daughters were born in Sept Isle, Q.C. before Joan moved to Labrador West permanently. Three more children — another daughter and two sons — were born after the family settled here for good.

Claude worked for his brother, Real Ste Marie, at his company, RSM, and in later years his nephew, Yves Ste Marie, who took over the company.

He worked for 45 years before retiring from this family-owned contracting and construction company.

Claude was here from the very beginning. He lived in the camps and had his meals in the original cafeteria. His work in those early years included cutting the woods away for some of the areas required to build both the towns of Wabush and Labrador City. This was followed by the many construction and contracting projects in the building and growth of the Iron Ore Company of Canada.

The mine grew, the company grew, the towns grew, and the families grew.

Joan remembers the early days of raising a young family, having no roads in or out of Labrador West, limited shopping choices for even the basic needs, and all the challenges associated with life in a frontier community in the North.

Claude has had, for all these years, a close and passionate relationship with the outdoors. He is a hunter and a fisherman. He has had plenty of adventures on the land and the water.  He has also played an important role in the hunting and sport fishing business, as well as the aviation business in Labrador West.

At the end of the day, Claude and Joan are quick to say they have had a great life in Labrador.

It has provided a lifetime of work, a great place to live and raise a family, and they don’t have a single regret in their choice years ago to move here.

Their three daughters live in Ontario and, from time to time, try to convince Mom and Dad to move out there to spend their senior years.

Joan laughed and said that she and Claude have only one move left and that will be when it’s time to move out to a plot of land by Duley Lake on the Cemetery Road.

Labrador, she says with a grin, will remain their home.        

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