A life­time of mem­o­ries

Labrador West Pi­o­neers: Claude and Joan Ste Marie

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page -

Claude and Joan Ste Marie have qui­etly lived a very large por­tion of their lives in Labrador West. They were here in the early years and are a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the def­i­ni­tion of Labrador West pi­o­neer and all that it stands for.

They make no ef­fort to hide their age.

Claude is 87

Joan is 79.

I once read that how a per­son feels about their age is clearly af­fected by one’s at­ti­tude. This def­i­nitely can be used as a unit of mea­sure in Claude’s and Joan’s case. They smile con­stantly as they re­mem­ber the chal­lenges of years gone.

Claude ar­rived in Labrador West in 1958. He and Joan were mar­ried in 1959 and will cel­e­brate 60 years of mar­riage next De­cem­ber.

Joan ar­rived to stay per­ma­nently in 1965.

Their two daugh­ters were born in Sept Isle, Q.C. be­fore Joan moved to Labrador West per­ma­nently. Three more chil­dren — an­other daugh­ter and two sons — were born af­ter the fam­ily set­tled here for good.

Claude worked for his brother, Real Ste Marie, at his com­pany, RSM, and in later years his nephew, Yves Ste Marie, who years old and Claude and Joan Ste Marie.

took over the com­pany.

He worked for 45 years be­fore re­tir­ing from this fam­ily-owned con­tract­ing and con­struc­tion com­pany.

Claude was here from the very be­gin­ning. He lived in the camps and had his meals in the orig­i­nal cafe­te­ria. His work in those early years in­cluded cut­ting the woods away for some of the ar­eas re­quired to build both the towns of Wabush and Labrador City. This was fol­lowed by the many con­struc­tion and con­tract­ing projects in the build­ing and growth of the Iron Ore Com­pany of Canada.

The mine grew, the com­pany grew, the towns grew, and the fam­i­lies grew.

Joan re­mem­bers the early days of rais­ing a young fam­ily, hav­ing no roads in or out of Labrador West, lim­ited shopping choices for even the ba­sic needs, and all the chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with life in a fron­tier com­mu­nity in the North.

Claude has had, for all these years, a close and pas­sion­ate re­la­tion­ship with the out­doors. He is a hunter and a fish­er­man. He has had plenty of ad­ven­tures on the land and the wa­ter. He has also played an im­por­tant role in the hunt­ing and sport fish­ing busi­ness, as well as the avi­a­tion busi­ness in Labrador West.

At the end of the day, Claude and Joan are quick to say they have had a great life in Labrador.

It has pro­vided a life­time of work, a great place to live and raise a fam­ily, and they don’t have a sin­gle re­gret in their choice years ago to move here.

Their three daugh­ters live in On­tario and, from time to time, try to con­vince Mom and Dad to move out there to spend their se­nior years.

Joan laughed and said that she and Claude have only one move left and that will be when it’s time to move out to a plot of land by Du­ley Lake on the Ceme­tery Road.

Labrador, she says with a grin, will re­main their home.


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