Labrador West Pioneers: Gerry Rus­sell

The Rab­bit Man from Bon­av­ista Bay

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page - BY GARY SHAW

Like so many of the young peo­ple who ven­tured to Labrador West in the early years, it was for the op­por­tu­nity for work in the min­ing sec­tor that was clearly the draw to the Big Land.

Gerry Rus­sell’s ar­rival was no dif­fer­ent than many who came. He landed in Labrador West, from Win­ter­brook in Bon­av­ista Bay, New­found­land. He spent his first year in Happy Val­leyGoose Bay and then on to Labrador West for a job at I.O.C.

Rus­sel and his wife are zoom­ing in on their 50th year, clearly not a short stay. They spent all of those years here solidly en­trenched in Labrador West.

They raised their two chil­dren, now adults, who are mak­ing their own way in the world.

Gerry has been re­tired from I.O.C. since 2004. He con­tin­ues, in re­tire­ment, to do some work in his trade as a truck driver and equip­ment op­er­a­tor, but he lives his pas­sion for the out­doors more than ever.

Gerry is a hunter and fish­er­man through and through. He pur­chased his first snow­mo­bile in 1969, a 12-hp Elan Ski­doo for $575, and the rest has been his­tory.

He had been on many cari­bou hunts back in the good old days and is an avid brook trout fish­er­man. A reg­u­lar part of each year has been his trips to Goose Bay for a go at the smelts and sea trout. More than once I have found a bag hang­ing on my door­knob with a dandy big meal of fresh smelts, thank to Gerry.

Gerry is con­stantly out the door; a man on a mis­sion no mat­ter what the sea­son. He is al­ways busy. Whether it’s cut­ting a load of wood or tend­ing to his yard and flow­ers, his home has al­ways looked like it’s a photo shot from Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens magazine. His gar­den is al­ways set with a fine bed of pota­toes, which are tended with care. Each fall brings an­other har­vest of fresh, home grown pota­toes.

He al­ways finds time for a trip back home each year to Win­ter­brook, to en­joy his fam­ily roots. Gerry is not un­like many of us who still go back home, to wher­ever we came from, each year. The funny part of this is as we pre­pare to leave the places of fam­ily roots, our home, we tell the folks out there that we are head­ing back to our home, Labrador West.

With­out any doubt, Gerry is best known in Labrador West as the “Rab­bit Man.”

As fall ap­proaches there are two things you can be sure of: snow is on the way and Gerry has his pack full of rab­bit snares. Gerry has a net­work of alder beds he has been snar­ing for years. There are few places when you go out of town in any di­rec­tion that you won’t bump into Gerry mak­ing his way out of the woods, pack and rab­bits in tow. No mat­ter the weather, good or nasty, Gerry will be clearly in his el­e­ment with a big smile on his face.

There are not a lot of folks in our com­mu­nity who haven’t had a meal of rab­bits, thanks to Gerry.

Labrador as it has turned out, has been a per­fect fit for Gerry and Gerry, a per­fect fit for Labrador.

GARY SHAW/SPE­CIAL TO THE LABRADORIAN

Gerry Rus­sell

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