Pelts, heritage and YouTube: A day on a Labrador trapline

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Pelts, heritage and YouTube: A day on a Labrador trapline

William Larkham Jr. is standing at the entrance to a wooded area along his trapline, somewhere off the Trans-Labrador Highway. After checking a number of traps and coming up with nothing but a weasel, he finally spots what he's been after. 

Before heading in, he breaks out a tool you don't often associate with the gear of a trapline: a GoPro camera.

"It's another large day here in the big land," says Larkham, who narrates the scene for an audience who will eventually see his exploits on the YouTube channel. 

Larkham, 43, says he started his YouTube channel to get the word out about his beloved Labrador. It's been nine years since his first post.

One of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay man's goals is to explain what life is like on the land, particularly for someone who fishes, hunts and traps.

"We got a marten, thank goodness," he says. "A nice brown, probably a select pelt — that's an above-average marten. He'll do well in the auction."

A calling as much as a career

On this day, Larkham was checking his traps during one of his last runs of the year before marten trapping season ended on March 20.

"My main occupation is fishing, but you get a nice bonus some years from trapping," Larkham says. "Don't get me wrong, trapping is very difficult when the prices are low."

This year was not a down year for Larkham, who did well at a recent fur auction. A couple of his marten pelts were in a top lot and sold for nearly $400 each.

But Larkham says that for him and for many others, trapping is not about the money.

"A lot of trappers [say] if the pelts are a dollar, they'll still trap, because it's in your blood," Larkham said in an interview.  

"You could haul 50 traps and not get ne'er a catch but before you approach the next trap you get excited because that could be the trap you got your catch in," he said. "There's always that anticipation that keeps your drive going."

Trapping viewers

Any one of Larkham's activities could show up on his channel. Some of his videos garner tens of thousands of views. 

"Trapping is always a big hit," Larkham said. "Sealing, sometimes for the wrong reason."

He started the YouTube channel to fill a void. 

"At the time, there was nothing really coming out of Labrador," Larkham said.  "I said, we got a hidden treasure and I want to share it to the world really."

Through his channel, he says, he's made friends all over the world.

"Some of them, I imagine we're going to meet down the road sometime," Larkham said. 

"We look at each other's videos and share, comment and get ideas from each other as well."

Larkham, who is part Inuit, on his grandmother's side of the family, said cultural ties were strong for him growing up but he never realized their importance until he was older.

Now, he wants to share it with his children, including his five-year-old son.

"I want to see [him] take over the trapline when he gets older. I'll go along with him and teach him," Larkham said. 

"I think the way it is with culture now, you can't just live the old lifestyle. It's got to be a blend of both."