2002 Recipient - Gordon Slade
For a small, largely uninhabited outport, Battle Harbour, on the southeast
tip of Labrador, has
a rather distinguished reputation. It is considered one of North America’s oldest northern
settlements. And thanks to the efforts of Gordon Slade, this year’s RCGS Gold Medallist
(awarded for significant achievement in the field of geography), the island community is being preserved.
Battle Harbour was established as a British fishing station in the mid-1700s and became
Labrador’s main trading centre and a port of call for such Arctic explorers as Robert Peary.
As the only intact salt-fishing village left in Newfoundland and Labrador, it caught Slade’s
attention in the 1970s, when he was the province’s Deputy Minister of Fisheries. At the time,
the fresh- and frozen-fish industries were rapidly replacing centuries-old salt-fish operations.
“I felt we should preserve at least one community which represented pre-Confederation Newfoundland,” says
Slade, now CEO of the Cruiseship Authority of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 1990, he founded the Battle Harbour Historic Trust and has since worked relentlessly
to restore the village’s wharves, stores, homes and cod-drying fish flakes. Slade’s passion
is also helping rebuild the regional economy, devastated by the collapse of the cod fishery.
— Monique Roy-Sole