LABRADOR CITY, N.L. — Linda Woolridge is a true representation of a Labrador West pioneer.
Linda arrived in Labrador West on January 13, 1963, with her husband Walter and a one-year-old baby in her arms. Their new house, their first home in Labrador West, was waiting for them on Viking Street. When they arrived at the end of the driveway, the snow was up to the top of the door.
Walter dropped her and the baby off at a house, strangers to Linda, while he got a loader and the shovel to work digging their way into their home. This was the beginning of a long and storied journey for Linda.
She was quick to admit that she was homesick for the first year in Labrador West; she was a long way from her hometown of Howley, in central Newfoundland.
Her husband Walter, like so many others, came to Labrador West for work in the mines. He punched a full career, 30 years with the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), while Linda juggled her role as wife and mother to three daughters with a 35-year career at Canada Post. There certainly wasn’t much downtime for her.
The early years were spent in a community that was being built, homes and businesses under construction to fill the needs of a growing mining town.
There were no roads in or out of Labrador West in those early years. The streets were covered in snow in the winter and mud in the summer. There were very few cars — mostly company trucks — since there really wasn’t anywhere to go.
There weren’t many social activities for families in those days either. Linda said they had a group of 12 to 15 families that gathered at a different host house each Saturday night.
“If I had it to do all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.” — Linda Woodridge
It was a close-knit group; cards, games, music and plenty of good grub was the theme on these weekends. Many of this group would send out a big order for groceries and household needs and have it sent in on the train from Sept Isle and they would divide it all up among the group.
They had the Hudson Bay Store, I Grocery Store and CIBC as their hub of commerce. Trips in and out of Labrador West were infrequent. You had two choices; go by train to Sept Isle or catch a flight out.
Through their social circle, their jobs and their volunteer work in the community, Linda and Walter came to have a sense of belonging in Lab West.
It became their home.
Their three daughters grew up and remain in Labrador West; and the family now includes three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all still in Labrador, all proud Labradorians.
Her husband Walter has passed away, but Linda continues to be a vibrant and active member of the community.
She says with pride that they didn’t necessarily come to Labrador to find a new life but they sure made one.
“If I had it to do all over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she says with a smile. “I haven’t a single regret, I am proud to call Labrador West my home.”