Across the Straits from Port au Choix: Mobility, Connection, and the Dorset of Southern Labrador


  • Marianne P. Stopp



Dorset culture, northern foragers, southern Labrador, Strait of Belle Isle, mobility, northern forager interaction, harp seal migration


Priscilla Renouf’s more than 30 years of research on the human history of the Port au Choix peninsula was longue durée in execution as well as in perspective and contribution, resulting in notable insights into adaptations at Port au Choix itself and on the island of Newfoundland. This paper finds inspiration in Renouf’s work at the site of Phillip’s Garden (EeBi-1) on the Port au Choix peninsula. It proposes a model of integration and shared social context between Dorset in southern Labrador and Dorset in northwestern Newfoundland. Mobility and interconnection, key hallmarks of northern forager societies, are suggested through multiple lines of evidence that include the proximity and contemporaneity of sites in the two regions, the evidence of long-distance networks for exchange of Ramah chert, and the requirements of travel imposed by the twice yearly harp seal migration, which passed close to the Port au Choix peninsula in spring but followed the Labrador shore in late autumn.