Forteau offers services to travellers using Route 510, which more or less runs along the southeastern coast of Labrador: accommodation, restaurants, gas station, convenience stores, sports shops, recreational and tourist activities (e.g. hiking, sea excursion, museum, lighthouse, guided salmon fishing tour, iceberg sightings on the Strait of Belle Isle).
Forteau is the southernmost municipality in Labrador. This village sits on the north shore of the Strait of Belle Isle. Its western limit is backed by the town of Blanc-Sablon in Quebec. Its population amounts to 377 inhabitants in 2021 (mostly English-speaking), compared to Blanc-Sablon whose population amounts to 1122 inhabitants (including a French-speaking part). Forteau and the rural hamlets of the Labrador coast depend on the services offered in Blanc-Sablon in Quebec: airport, ferry, hospital, and shops.
Forteau and the string of oceanside villages along the Strait of Belle Isle have a long history of nomadic fisheries, including presence of various European fleets (such as Portugal), but the first permanent fishing villages were established from Newfoundland in the 1800s. The region serves as a point of entry to Labrador from Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula directly across the strait; Blanc Sablon's economic ties therefore are closely intertwined not with Quebec but with Newfoundland and Labrador.
As Forteau is a border community, its time zones are a bit confusing. The island of Newfoundland is GMT-3.5, with one hour of daylight savings time in summer. Board a ferry and Blanc-Sablon (as part of a sparsely-populated fragment of Quebec east of Anticosti) is on Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4) year-round. As soon as the road leads back into Forteau, clocks return to Newfoundland Time through Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson. Further north into Labrador, Atlantic Time (AST/ADT) makes a reappearance, so Cartwright is in Halifax's time zone.
By road, Forteau (in Labrador) is accessible by:
- Trans-Labrador Highway (roads 510 and 500) which crosses southern Labrador for 1,126 km (via Mary's Harbour, Port Hope Simpson, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Churchill Falls and Wabush); then Eastern Quebec for 568 km (via Labrador City, Fermont, Mont-Wright, Gagnon, Manic 5) via Route 389 to reach the city of Baie-Comeau. The total trip of 1,695 km between Forteau and Baie-Comeau takes approximately 22 hours (non-stop);
- Ferry between St-Alban (Newfoundland) and Blanc Sablon (Quebec): 19-km journey From Forteau via route 510 in Labrador and route 138 in Quebec, to reach the Blanc-Sablon wharf; this ferry service is 36 km (about 1 hr 45 min) on Strait of Belle Isle to St-Alban (Newfoundland); then the journey to reach Saint-John (capital of Newfoundland & Labrador) is 483 km (duration of approximately 5 hr 12 min);
- Route 138 (Quebec): this road runs along the North Shore (in Quebec) towards the east from Baie-Comeau; for now, this road reaches the village of Kegaska; the journey between these two localities is 647 km (i.e. an estimated duration of 7 hr 18 min). Then, a segment of road of 350 to 400 km (depending on the route that will be retained by the government) is missing between Kegaska and the village of Vieux-Port (in municipality of Bonne-Espérance, in Quebec). A ferry shuttles from the small villages of the Lower North Shore (in Quebec) to Blanc-Sablon. Then the segment of Route 138 (Quebec) of 71 km continues between Vieux-Port (Old-Port) and the limit of Labrador. The Quebec government is gradually extending Route 138 eastward along the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
- PAL Airlines. PAL Airlines acquired Air Labrador 1948-2017 to continue serving Labrador and the eastern provinces of Canada including Quebec. This airline is based in Saint John (Newfoundland).
- Labrador Marine, ☏ , (St. Barbe), (Blanc Sablon), toll-free: (NL only). Operates a ferry enabling travel between Newfoundland and Labrador. Ferry to Blanc Sablon from St. Barbe (1 hr 45 min crossing) for most of the year. During portions of the winter, the ferry instead travels from Corner Brook (12 hours crossing). Crossing time is affected by sea conditions. From St. Barbe: car + driver $35, RV + driver $35-78, motorcycle + driver $18, passenger $12. From Corner Brook: car + driver $130, RV + driver $130-271, motorcycle + driver $112, passenger $43. Discounts for seniors, students, children.
- Relais Nordik, toll-free: . M/V Bella Desgagnés operates seasonally (early April to early October), carrying passengers and cargo to several otherwise inaccessible communities that depend on this vessel for supplies. The boat travels between Rimouski and Blanc-Sablon including stops in Sept-Îles, Port-Menier (on Anticosti), Havre-Saint-Pierre, Kegaska, La Romaine, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, and Saint-Augustin. Scheduled travel time to Blanc-Sablon from Rimouski is 3 days 8½ hours, from Sept-Îles is 2 days 17 hours, from Port-Menier is 2 days 7 hours, and from Havre-Saint-Pierre is 1 day 23 hr 45 min. One round trip occurs per week. Due varying sailing conditions, the operator recommends booking onward connections 36 to 48 hours after the scheduled arrival time of the boat.
- The Trans-Labrador Highway (Route 510) follows the coast eastward from Forteau, turning north to Happy Valley-Goose Bay then west to Labrador City.
- A stub of Route 138 leads west from Blanc Sablon 71 km, from Labrador limit to Vieux-Fort, Quebec (about 1:11 hr driving), and abruptly ends there. The Route 138 resumes at 350-400 km (depending on the final route that will be retained by the government) further west, at Kegaska, to successively reach Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Îles and Baie-Comeau.
- 1 Labrador Straits Museum, l'Anse-au-Loup, email@example.com. Established 1978 by Southern Labrador Women's Institute, exhibits and artefacts describe the local way of life over the last 150 years. A small souvenir shop carries local crafts.
- 2 Point Amour Lighthouse, L'Anse-Amour Road (off Route 510), ☏ , fax: . An 1857 stone lighthouse (automated 1996) stands over 30 m (100 ft) tall, the tallest in the province.
- Overfall Brook Trail. One-mile (1.5 km) trail along the shoreline of Forteau Bay with a cliff face, a view of Point Amour Lighthouse in the distance and a waterfall (Overfall Brook Falls) which drops over the rocky cliff into the ocean. Exit Route 510 at intersection across from Town Centre, drive to Labrador Pioneer Footpath trail head car park overlooking Forteau Bay.
- Tour Labrador, 31 Main St, ☏ . Operates Lighthouse Gifts (at Point Amour Lighthouse) and various sea or hiking tours; an opportunity to dine at the lighthouse is offered a few times a year. The same owners run Food Chopper and Sea View Cottages, so the tours may be packaged with lodging in Forteau.
- Bakeapple Folk Festival, Labrador Straits Arena, L'Anse au Loup, ☏ , fax: . second weekend in August. A celebration of local heritage with folk singing, dancing, music, games, crafts, food, local specialties and entertainment. The bakeapple, or cloudberry, is popular in jellies, syrups and pies, which can be sampled in local stores and restaurants.
- 1 Food Chopper, 33 Main Street, Forteau, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-9PM, closed Sunday. Grocer and bakery under common ownership with adjacent Seaview Restaurant.
- 2 Rsk Grocery, 3 Main St, L'Anse-au-Clair, ☏ . Convenience store.
- Labrador Preserves Company, Food Chopper (Forteau), ☏ , fax: . Bakeapple, partridgeberry and blueberry syrup and preserves.
- 1 Dot's Bakery and Coffee Shop, 32 Main St (Hwy 510), L'Anse au Loup (Southern Labrador Hwy), ☏ . 7AM-11PM. Café, grocery and baker. Locals eat here for good, hot food on a rainy day.
- 2 Fast Freddies, School Dr, L'Anse au Loup (Southern Labrador Hwy), ☏ . Restaurant.
- 3 Robin's Donuts, 8286, Main Highway, L'Anse-au-Claire, NL, A0K 3K0, ☏ . Cafe style restaurant. Offer of meals for breakfast (all day), beiges, muffins and other cooked meals.
- 4 Seaview Restaurant, 31 Main Street, Forteau (Attached to the Food Chopper Discount Grocery), ☏ , toll-free: . 9AM-10PM daily, 9AM-8PM in winter. Restaurant with fresh bakery bread and Outback Lounge pub.
- 1 Grenfell Hall B&B, 3 Willow Avenue, Forteau, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Bed and breakfast in former Old Forteau Nursing Station. It was built by the International Grenfell Association in 1946, and replaced by a modern hospital in 1983. Each of the five guest rooms is named after different staff or nurses. Seasonal (May 1-Oct 1), continental breakfast, shared washroom, TV in living room. $90/double, $160/two bdrm cottage.
- 2 Northern Light Inn, L'Anse au Clair, Labrador, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Hotel open year-round, restaurant with breakfast buffet, traditional Labrador cuisine, Greco Pizza and Chester Fried Chicken. $120-150.
- 3 Forteau Bay Cottages, 44 Main Street, Forteau, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. One-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom cottages are available. Some rooms are pet-friendly. $120-140 a night.
- 4 The Florian Hotel, 4, Buckles Point Rd, Forteau, NL, A0K 2P0, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel (4 stars) with 21 rooms. Magnificent well glazed dining room, facing the bay of Forteau. Restaurant (traditional and modern cuisine) and Bar. Main activities: Guided salmon fishing tours and iceberg sightings on the Strait of Belle Isle. Satellite TV"
Cellular telephone coverage is sporadic to non-extant in Forteau (the only base station is Bell across the strait on the Great Northern Peninsula), although groceries, fuel, lodging and Internet access are available in the village. Venture further into rural Labrador and services at many points are limited to non-existent.
- 1 L'Anse au Loup (South Labrador) Public Library, Lawrence D. O'Brien Town Centre, 11 Branch Road, L'Anse-au-Loup, NL, A0K 3L0 (In the L'Anse-au-Loup area), ☏ . Public library affiliated with Newfoundland & Labrador Public Libraries which has 94 public libraries.
- 2 Labrador Straits Arena, Trans-Labrador Hwy, L'Anse-au-Loup, NL, A0K 3L0 (In the L'Anse-au-Loup area), ☏ . Arena.
The Pinware River Provincial Park is roughly midway from Forteau to Red Bay (30-35km from each). There is one hotel nearby:
- Oceanview Resort, West St. Modeste, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-out: 11AM. Ten-room hotel with four two-bedroom cottages, serviced caravan park for 5 RVs, laundry. Oceanview Restaurant serves traditional and local cuisine (seats 50). Patty's Lounge serves alcohol and bar food. Conference rooms for 25 to 225 people, souvenir shop. Bills one night stay to credit card at time of initial reservation; two-day/three-night packages for fishing and whale watching start at $525/double occupancy.
There is no fuel at West St. Modeste, Red Bay or Lodge Bay. There is a snowmobile dealer with propane, petrol and diesel in l'Anse-au-Loup, and a small grocer. Additional services are available in Forteau and Port Hope Simpson.
A tiny (population 227) fishing village 65 km (43 miles) east of Forteau on Route 510, the former base for 15 ships and 600 men as a seasonal Basque whaling outpost on the Strait of Belle Isle in the mid-1500s.
- 3 Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada, Red Bay, ☏ , fax: . mid-June to September, 9AM-5:30PM daily. Whalers from the Basque region (northern Spain and southern France) hunted right and bowhead whales for their oil during the mid- to late 1500s, using the sheltered harbour of Red Bay as a seasonal base of operation for 70 years until whales became scarce. A group of 1560s shipwrecks were discovered in 1978 and an underwater archaeological site established. The site includes remains of rendering ovens, cooperages, wharves, whale bones, living quarters and a cemetery. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station is one of four UNESCO World Heritage sites in the province (the others are Mistaken Point, Gros Morne park and l'Anse-aux-Meadows Viking settlement). $7.80.
- 3 Gull Island Charters, 18 East Harbour Drive, Red Bay, ☏ , email@example.com. Water taxi service to Saddle Island for Red Bay National Historic Site ($3/passenger), sightseeing trips with icebergs, whales and wildlife.
- 5 Whaler's Station, 72-76 West Harbour Drive, Red Bay, ☏ . Three-room inn on waterfront, with a guest house and a lone housekeeping cabin on the main road. Whaler's Restaurant serves fish and chips, local cuisine and desserts with hand-picked wild berries (bakeapples, partridgeberries and blackberries) for up to 60 people, with boxed lunches available for take-out. A souvenir shop carries postcards, books about the local area, T-shirts, weatherproof jackets and clothing. Labrador crafts, knitting, slippers, jewellery and soapstone carvings.
|Routes through Forteau, NL|
|Blanc-Sablon ← becomes ←||W NE||→ Red Bay → Port Hope Simpson|
|Routes through Blanc-Sablon, QC|
|END ← Vieux Fort ←||W E||→ becomes → Forteau → Port Hope Simpson|
|END ←||N S||→ St. Barbe → Jct N S|
- 1 Blanc-Sablon (Quebec) Blanc-Sablon is the easternmost municipality in Quebec. Its economy is based on fishing, services to travellers/tourists (including fishing, snowmobiling/ATV) using Route 138 which runs along the northern shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Blanc-Sablon is a must-see destination for travellers arriving from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle ferry and heading to Labrador.
- 2 Pinware (Labrador) Known for salmon and the better timber stands in the region. Pinware Hill is one of the earliest Palaeo-Indian archaeological sites in the province; the archaeologists have dated it to nearly 9000 years old.
- 3 Petit-Mécatina Unorganized territory of the MRC Le Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent, in the Côte-Nord region, in Quebec. This territory is a hunting & fishing paradise under the aegis of outfitters, with access by seaplane. It can be crossed by snowmobile or ATV.