Labrador West is a very close-knit community that boasts a commitment to hard work, strong family ties and a constant effort in giving a helping hand to those who may need it, a place of belonging to something that matters.
It’s home, a place that folks buy into the many values that makes us not only a unique place, but a place that makes us proud to be from.
There is no better example of this than Dick and Anne Louvelle, a couple who are truly Labrador West pioneers. In our recent conversation, they shared what they feel is an ordinary story of their lives. I suppose that depends on what lens you view the story of their lives as pioneers in our community you may be looking through. It’s far from an ordinary story.
Dick is 85 years old and Anne is 82 and they have recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and have spent the last 50 years living in Labrador West.
It would take all of the pages of a rather lengthy book to chronicle all of the stories that these 50 years could tell, an impossible task in this limited space. Dick arrived in Labrador West in June of 1968 for work with a contracting company from Stephenville Crossing, Newfoundland. He chuckled as he told of the $64 airplane ticket he had to buy to get here to take a job as a foreman for $2.75 an hour. As Dick got settled away, Anne followed in November with three youngsters in tow, the oldest being six years old.
There was a single Dominion grocery store and the Hudson Bay Store to do all of their shopping and they set up housekeeping in a small trailer on Drake Avenue. All of the necessary goods required to keep everyone going came in on the train. There were no roads in either direction, Baie Comeau or Goose Bay. If something significant occurred in an illness or an accident, you had better bleed slowly; any specialized service beyond the flu or a few stitches was a long way away.
Dick worked for contracting companies and a tour of duty at I.O.C. Anne spent a good number of years working in the hospital kitchen. All of these jobs as well as raising three children in Labrador West. Dick held his private pilot licence for many years and has logged a lot of hours in the air over Labrador.
Dick has spent the last 20 years doing the mail run to Churchill Falls, a three-hour run each way on a good day of weather. Back in the earlier years it was often said that on occasion Dick may have fallen back on his pilot’s licence on the mail run, he was flying. The amazing part of this is that at 85, Dick is still beating the trail to Churchill, still delivering the mail.
At the end of their incredible journey through 50 years, they have absolutely no regrets in their choice to make Labrador West their home. Looking back, they have raised their children, all living as adults with their own legacy as Labradorians solidly planted in Labrador West. The family tree has grown from their three children’s’ arrival in 1968 with Mom and Dad to include five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all calling Labrador West home. Their commitment to their own families and their community, solidly entrenched in life long lessons from Mom and Dad.
In the final analysis, Dick and Anne have Labrador West solidly planted in their hearts and souls, and Labrador West is fortunate to have had them as some of the original building blocks that has built our community 50 years later, into a place that we are proud to call home.