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Labrador West Pioneer: Austin Drover

Austin Drover
Austin Drover - Gary Shaw

LABRADOR WEST, N.L.

Austin Drover didn’t take the short route to Labrador like so many others who made their way to Labrador, from Upper Island Cove on the island of Newfoundland.

Austin decided he would leave his home area when he was 25 years old and made his way to the mainland. He ended up in Toronto and rolled his sleeves up and gave it a go.

Work was fairly easy to find and he turned his hand to a number of opportunities. As he punched his time he came to realize that Toronto and the Big Smoke wasn’t going to work for him.

He returned to Upper Island Cove where he weighed his options on what would be next in his life. Timing as many say, often determines your path in life, and as it happened, the Iron Ore Company of Canada was conducting a recruitment effort in Austin’s area. He decided to give Labrador and the mining industry a try.


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He gave himself a short tether and came to Labrador for an eight-week stint — that would be enough in his mind — to determine if he would stay or not. He told of some people who came in on the flight as he had, and were on the return flight home the next day. This time made his stint look like a pretty big effort.

As the old saying goes, the rest was history. It was July of 1975 and Austin has never left Labrador West. He first lived in the trailers that were owned by IOC where Brace’s is presently located for the first year. The work was good and his life was moved along. He married his wife Barb in August of 1976.

During these early years there wasn’t anywhere to go outside of the community. Many nights were spent making the rounds at the local clubs enjoying the social time, the music and dancing, and of course a few games of darts.

Austin and Barb raised two sons who are both adults now. The boys grew up in Labrador West and are still here. They both work in their Dad’s footsteps for IOC. They have also started their families and have four grandchildren, all girls, who are a third generation of this Drover family, living and enjoying the Labrador West lifestyle that their parents and grandparents are passing on to them.

Austin and all of the young ones are outdoor people and sports fans. Hockey, softball, skiing, skateboarding were, and continue to be, a regular part of their lives.

Family fishing trips with a trip down the road with a big shore lunch have been enjoyed by the entire family from the early years until the present day. Austin tells of carrying the boys on his back when they were too young to make some of the journeys on their own.

Austin punched a full career at IOC of 31 years. He has been enjoying a well-deserved retirement and has a cabin on the Esker Road that means a lot to him. He is there regularly doing some fishing and hunting some grouse. He says the peace and quiet there is well worth the trip down the road to get there.

In the final analysis, Austin says that he has absolutely no regrets in coming and ending up calling Labrador West his home. He smiles and says it was the best eight weeks he could have ever spent.

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