Labrador a peninsula of north-eastern America, is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Dominion of Canada and the Gulf of St. La-rence, on the west by the Hudson Bay and James Bay, on the north by the Hudson Strait. Area about 500,000 sq. miles. The peninsula formerly was a part of the territory belonging to the Hudson Bay Company, and wit h the remainder of this territory was in 1869 sold to the government of the Dominion of Canada. The interior of the country is almost entirely unknown. The population, comprising Indians, Esquimaux, and a few Europeans, amounts to about 4000. It is believed that Labrador is identical with the Helluland (stone-land) which about the year 1000 was discovered by Leif, the son of Eric the Red. On June 24,1497, it was again discovered by John and Sebastian Cabot. It was visited in 1500 by the Portuguese G. Cortereal, who called it Tierra del Labrador (land for labor), and in 1576 by the Englishman M. Frobisher. In 1618 Hudson explored a part of the coast. The country, which has a rugged coast. and is surrounded with many small islands, does not allow an extensive cultivation; for, although the vegetation is only in the northern part so limited as it is throughout Greenland, the winters are even more severe, and during the short summers the mosquitoes are even more troublesome than in Greenland. The population of the interior, which consists of Red Indians, is very small; the Esquimaux, who inhabit the north-eastern and the western coast, are a little more numerous, and support themselves by fishing seals, etc. If these animals fail them a famine is brought on, or they are forced to penetrate farther into the interior, where they are apt to encounter the Red Indians, their irreconcilable enemies for centuries.
The first attempt to establish a mission on the coast of Labrador was made by the Moravians in 1752, when J. C. Erhardt was killed by the Esquimaux. In 1771 the Moravians succeeded in establishing the station of Nain, to which in the course of the following ten years the stations of Okak and Hoffenthal (Hopedale) were added. The mission met here with the same difficulties as in Greenland. Thirty-four years after the establishment of the first mission an extensive revival took place, in consequence of which the Esquimaux connected with these stations were gained to Christianity. For the Esquimaux living more to the north, Hebron was founded in 1830. In 1864 the station of Zoar was established for the tract of land lying between Nain and Hoffenthal. All the Esquimaux in this part of Labrador are now Christians. Only north of Hebron a few pagans are still living, for the conversion of whom in 1871 the station of Rama, situated on the Bay of Nullatorusek (a little north of lat. 59 N.) was founded. Famine and epidemics have greatly reduced the number of the Esquimaux in Labrador. In 1870 the station of Nain numbered 239, Okak 339, Hoffenthal 250, Hebron 219, and Zoar 109 souls, while the number of missionaries and attendants was 45. The acquaintance of the natives with European necessities forced the missionaries to charge themselves with the importation of some of these articles. Subsequently this trade was transferred to special agents. In the mean while, commercial interests have caused a number of Europeans to settle on the coast of Labrador, and a number of trading-posts to be established. Besides the Moravians, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has begun missionary efforts on the southern coast, and the Roman Catholic Church has endeavored to gain an influence upon the Red Indians of the interior. See Newcomb, Cyclopcedia of Missions; Grundeman, Missionsatlas ; Romer, Geschichte der Labrador-Mission (Gnadau, 1871). (A. J. S.)