Richard (Dick) White's Trading Post
Built by one of Labrador's best known inhabitants, Richard (Dick) White's Trading Post was a source of supplies for people living along Labrador's northern coastline for 50 years.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Richard White is well known in Labrador, not only for the series of trading posts that he ran from 1908 until his death in 1950, but also for his interaction with the Innu. He was a strong advocate for helping the Innu and during his life wrote numerous letters to both the Newfoundland and Canadian governments about the difficulties facing natives.
His involvement with the Innu did not end with letter writing campaigns. He was a collector of Innu artifacts and cultural information, which he sent to people such as Dr. Frank Speck, an anthropologist working in the United States. At one point in the late 1930s, when the Mushwas Innu were dying of starvation in the Labrador interior, he led a party of men on dog sleds to aid them, bringing flour, tea, molasses, blankets, clothing, guns and ammunition. His supplies enabled the few hundred remaining Innu to survive the winter.
White also interacted closely with other local Innu groups when they needed help or supplies. He worked with both the Roman Catholic and Moravian Churches, since both groups knew that the Innu often went to White first when they needed aid. The Newfoundland Rangers also came to White for his knowledge and assistance when they had to deal with the Innu.
White's Trading Post was built in the small coastal community of White Harbour, just south of Nain. He chose this location because the Moravian missionaries in Nain would not let him operate within the community. They felt there was no way they could compete successfully.
The trading post is a wooden building measuring 6 by 14.5 m. (20 by 48 ft.) and has the stacked stone foundation typically used from the 1800s to 1950 in northern Labrador. All exposed timbers were tarred to preserve the wood.
The trading premises included a wharf, two other small stores, and locations for unloading supplies. The trading post was also the homestead of the White family. Winston White, Richard's son, has been maintaining the property in recent years. It is one of the oldest structures still standing in the Nain area.
Richard (Dick) White's Trading Post is currently operated as a museum and was recognised as a Registered Heritage Structure in May 1993.