Discover Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador: A Historical and Touristic Overview

Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador, is a charming town nestled in the central part of the island of Newfoundland. Located on the northwest shore of Beothuk Lake on the Buchans River, it is approximately 72 kilometers southwest of the Trans-Canada Highway at the terminus of Route 370. This article explores the rich history, demographics, and attractions of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador.

Demographics of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador, had a population of 590 living in 304 of its 338 total private dwellings. This represented a change of -8.1% from its 2016 population of 642. With a land area of 4.63 km2 (1.79 sq mi), it had a population density of 127.4/km2 (330.0/sq mi) in 2021.

The Discovery and Mining History of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

The mining history of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador, dates back to 1905 when the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company (AND) was granted mineral rights to 2,320 sq mi (6,000 km2) of central Newfoundland for 99 years. Mattie Mitchell, a prospector and guide of Mi'kmaq and Montagnais ancestry employed by AND, is credited with the original discovery of zinc-lead-copper ore on the banks of the Buchans River.

Buchans Mines, Newfoundland Labrador

The original 1905 Buchans discovery made by Matty Mitchell was only the first in a series of discoveries that would lead to 57 years of continuous mining later during the life of the town. "Old Buchans" as that mine was called, only produced a small percentage of the ore at Buchans - 217,135 tons. It was mined from 1943 to 1956 and again in 1977 and 1978.

Transportation Links in Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

The Buchans Railway, constructed in the fall of 1927, connected the town to the outside world. This railway joined the Milltertown Railway at Four Mile Siding, near Mary March Brook, which would become the community of Buchans Junction. A route for a highway to Buchans was surveyed in 1948. The highway itself was completed and opened in 1956.

Air Travel to Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

An airstrip was constructed east of Buchans Lake in 1942. Buchans Airport was constructed initially by the Canadian Department of Transport with the permission of the government of the Dominion of Newfoundland for use by the Canadian Department of National Defence.

Major Secondary Access Roads in Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

In the 1960s, a road was extended from the Buchans Highway (at a point near Buchans River) to provide access to resources located near the north shores of Red Indian Lake. Known locally as the "New Road", this road initially extended as far as Star River.

The Early History of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador: A Company Town

Most of the employees working on the development of the mine, construction of the town, and construction of the railway were housed in temporary camps. The first worker's home in Buchans was completed on March 13, 1927; twenty-six homes were completed by the end of that year.

Municipal History of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

After the Buchans highway was opened in 1956, several families who wished to own their own houses independent of the company-administered town settled on the banks of the Buchans River at the point where the highway crossed it, in a settlement known as "Pigeon Inlet."

Hockey in Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

Hockey, including school hockey and town and plant internal leagues had been a major recreational activity in Buchans going back to the 1930s. Games were played on nearby ponds, and eventually of the two large Asarco ore sheds on the north side of the town was converted each season into a skating/hockey rink.

Final Years of Asarco Operation in Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

On 17 March 1976 Asarco Incorporated, Buchans Unit and Price (Nfld.) Pulp and Paper Limited (Incorporated in 1962 replacing AND co - would later become Abitibi-Price then Abitibi-Bowater) signed a new contract whereby Price repossessed its original mineral exploration rights over the entire 1905 A.N.D. Co. concession area except for the mine site.

Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador since 1984

In the years since the closure of the Asarco operation, the population of the town, which had fluctuated but remained between 2,500 and 3,000 throughout the most prosperous years of the mine, began to drop in the late 1970s as ore reserves dwindled, production declined and layoffs occurred.

Climate of Buchans, Newfoundland Labrador

As typical of Newfoundland, Buchans has a humid continental climate with maritime influences. It has significant seasonal lag, which renders September to be only slightly cooler than June in spite of much less daylight. Over the course of the year temperatures are relatively cold for being a humid continental climate, but the extended summer season above 10 °C (50 °F) in mean temperatures keeps it above the subarctic threshold.