Restoration continues on 1831 church in Hebron, Labrador

For the last seven years, a team of people have been working on the nearly 200-year old church, as part of the Nunatsiavut government restoration program.

The Hebron Mission is a National Historic Site

Hebron is a former Inuit community in northern Labrador. For the last seven years, work has been underway to restore the church. (Jillian Larkham)

A painstaking church restoration continues in the abandoned northern Labrador community of Hebron.

For the last seven years, a team of people have been working on the nearly 200-year old former Moravian church, as part of the Nunatsiavut government restoration program.

The Hebron Mission, which dates back to 1831, is a National Historic Site. 

Jillian Larkham, who works on the project, told CBC Radio's On the Go that it's fascinating how the restoration has become a tourist draw.

She said last year, more than 300 tourists visited the remote site. 

"It's pretty amazing. It's a beautiful building," she said. 

"And the view and stuff around Hebron is beautiful. There's no trees around, so the church building really stands out from far away." 
Gus Semigak was born in Hebron, and was three years old when the community was relocated. Semigak is the restoration project's heritage carpenter. (Jillian Larkham)

Larkham said tourists have been arriving in cruise ships, sailboats and helicopters.

They've also visited from the Torngat Mountains National Park base camp and research centre.

Larkham said work on the walls, floor and brickwork is being done this summer, and the group has been saving as much of the original structure as possible — including its historic wooden pegs.

"The church was built and then brought into Hebron and put up. And they didn't have nails or anything back then. So the wooden pegs were used to put it all together," she said.  

Larkham said they're using information from former residents of Hebron to restore the church to its original appearance.

For some people, working on the restoration is a homecoming of sorts.

Gus Semigak is the project's heritage carpenter.

Semigak was born in Hebron. He was three years of age when the community was relocated in 1959.

The Hebron Mission dates back to 1831. It was declared a national historic site in 1976. (Jillian Larkham)