LABRADOR WEST, N.L.
Ray and Edith Freake from Wabush are a true example of Labrador West Pioneers.
Like so many of the pioneers that have been profiled on these pages, their story is represented by a series of twists in fate, that is ultimately, our lives.
Ray came to Labrador West from Fogo Island, Newfoundland. His journey was not his first trip from home as a young man. Ray went to the military, joining the Army at a young age. He had just completed his tour of duty that had lasted three years when he was discharged. He returned home to Fogo Island and had 60 days to make his decision on whether he would return to the military for his next tour. He had his mind made up, he was going back.
This was in 1968 and one of his buddies was heading to Labrador for work. He thought Ray should come and have a look before he went back to the military. Ray agreed to a two-week trip, see the place and head out. Well this is where fate stepped in and took over.
When Ray’s two weeks were up, he had punched a 34-year career in the mining sector at Wabush Mines and he has called Wabush his home for 50 years.
Edith arrived in January of 1969 from Fogo Island to join Ray and they were married in February. As the old saying goes, the rest is history.
They found themselves beginning their lives together in its infancy, just like their new community of Wabush. The community and its people were growing together. New lives together were being built like the town itself. Homes, stores, schools, churches, and infrastructure were all being carved out for the town that would be Wabush.
The mine was full steam ahead and the people of the community worked and supported each other, families and friendships were forged and the community grew as one with everyone pulling on the same rope in the same direction.
Ray and Edith raised their family of three children. Craig and Angela are still in Labrador West and Dionne is in Victoria, B.C. They are also blessed with three grandchildren.
Ray and Edith have given their lives to Labrador West. Ray also built a janitorial business that he worked and managed while he punched full time hours at Wabush Mines. Edith has for all of these years given many hours and efforts as a volunteer for the Brownies and minor hockey. She has from the beginning been very involved with all of the many efforts of community service provided through her church. Edith and Ray have also been constant members and supporters in the Legion’s Branches of both Wabush and Labrador City.
Edith has two sisters living in Labrador West and Ray has four of seven of his siblings here as well.
Ray is a man of the woods and the water. With a cabin in Esker, Ray has many trips and many stories to share of the fishing trips over the years and the glory days of the caribou hunts that were shared back in those days. To this day Ray and five of his brothers share the annual pilgrimage to the island for their annual moose hunt. It’s an annual tradition that has spanned all of these years with no end in site.
As always, the final question to Ray and Edith, any regrets on 50 years calling Labrador West home? They both smiled and answered the same, not one. They are both grateful for all that Labrador West has given them. We too, are grateful that we have had them and all that they have given to our community over all of these years as well.