Gail Pike represents the definition of a Labrador West Pioneer from every angle that you could possibly look at it from.
She arrived in Labrador West with her parents in January of 1963 as Gail Sheppard, a 15-year-old girl with Mom and Dad and two brothers, one older and one younger, Gordon and Wayne. Her Dad had moved the family to Labrador for the work in the mining sector from Spaniards Bay, Newfoundland.
In her first year in Labrador West, she finished Grade 10 at the McManus School and went the following year to finish Grade 11 at L.C.C. Things were different in Labrador West in those early years. There were no roads in or out of Labrador West. The streets were covered in snow during the long winters and were full of mud come spring.
Any family vacations outside started with a train ride or a flight to Sept. Isle where they would continue their travel to their ultimate destination.
Although there was the sense of isolation, they made their own fun within the community. There was a Teen Centre that provided the location for many nights of entertainment. Dances were held on a regular basis with live bands providing the music. The school not only provided them with their education, it also provided a great location for dances and socializing on most Friday nights.
It was at one of these many dances that Gail met one of the band members, Aubrey Pike. As is so often said, the rest was history. Aubrey and Gail ended up as husband and wife and so their life’s journey together, began.
Aubrey set up housekeeping and worked his whole career at the Iron Ore Company of Canada while he and Gail raised their three children, Kirk, Kimberley and Kory. Kirk is still in Labrador West and Kimberley and Kory are both in Halifax. There are now four grandchildren in Gail’s life, two boys and two girls.
Gail has been on her own since the passing of Aubrey 15 years ago. Aubrey’s legacy has been the wonderful family he has left behind, and is affectionately remembered as “ Mr. Soccer” throughout Labrador West and beyond.
Gail’s contribution to Labrador West has not missed a beat since her arrival all those years ago. She raised their family, a wonderful family that standing on its own, has been a great effort, very well done.
Now, for the rest of the story. Gail has given a life’s work, 25 years to the Coop Pre-School, grooming the children of our community in many of the necessary life skills that would serve them well on their journey to adulthood. It is a moment of great pride for Gail as she walks through the mall from time to time, and is stopped by some of these kids — her kids — as adults with their own kids, and is introduced by them, to their children as their teacher, when they were young.
In the early years Gail played an important role in Ladies Community Group, which met every Wednesday night to enjoy doing crafts, having a lunch and socializing.
Gail sat on the Coop Board for 25 years and is currently sitting as the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Cooperatives. She has also been a sitting member of the Labrador West Policing Committee for 30 years. She is also a member of Crime Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador Committee.
Gail is also and active and long term volunteer and supporter of the Labrador West Food Bank.
When you add up the remarkable body of work that Gail has given to Labrador West, she is not only a Labrador West Pioneer, but deserves a huge thank you from our entire community.