The Labrador Peninsula is a large peninsula located in eastern Canada. It is the sixth largest peninsula in the world covering an area of approximately 541,000 square miles and is bordered by water on all sides except the southwest, where it widens into the continental mainland. The peninsula, which can also be referred to as a cape or headland, is bordered by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the south, the Labrador Sea to the east, the Hudson Strait to the north, and the Hudson Bay to the west. Two Canadian provinces share the peninsula; the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Côte-Nord, and Nord-du-Québec regions of the province of Quebec and the region of Labrador of the maritime province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The northwestern part of the peninsula forms a lesser peninsula, referred to as the Ungava Peninsula, which is bounded by Ungava Bay, the Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay. The northernmost point of the Ungava Peninsula is Cape Wolstenholme, which is also the northernmost point of the province of Quebec and the Labrador Peninsula.
The Labrador Peninsula is a plateau that is threaded by numerous river valleys. It consists of various mountain ranges, including the Torngat Mountains, which contain the highest point in the Labrador Peninsula. This peak, Mount Caubvick, has an elevation of 5,420 feet and is the highest point in mainland Canada east of the province of Alberta. The Torngat Mountains also include Torngat Mountains National Park.
The Labrador Peninsula was occupied by the Cree and Innu people prior to the arrival of Europeans. The Innu people, who lived in the southern region of the peninsula, referred to it as Nitassinan, which means "our land." The peninsula was later named after Portuguese explorer Joao Fernandes Lavrador, who received a patent from Portugal's King Manuel I in 1499 to explore that part of the Atlantic Ocean. Lavrador had actually first spotted the peninsula in 1498 while charting the coastal parts of southwestern Greenland and northeastern North America. Lavrador, who had landowner status, had the ability to name the peninsula lavrador, which means "landholder" or "farmer" in Portuguese, and "agricultural worker" in Spanish and Galician. Lavrador had previously named Greenland Terra do Lavrador, but with time the name spread to other parts of the region.
Since it is mostly covered by the Canadian Shield, the Labrador Peninsula contains numerous lakes. In fact, the province of Quebec alone has more than 500,000 lakes of varying sizes. The biggest body of water in the region is the Smallwood Reservoir, while Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake. The Smallwood Reservoir, which is located in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, has a surface area of approximately 2,520 square miles and is served by a series of 88 dikes or levees. Lake Mistassini occupies an area of about 902 square miles and is located in the Jamésie region of Quebec.
Due to the development of hydroelectricity in the peninsula, most of the vast natural lakes in the region are reservoirs including the Caniapiscau Reservoir and the Manicouagan Reservoir. Other large reservoirs are found on the La Grand River including the La Grande 2 and La Grande 3 reservoirs. The river has a total length of 560 miles, and is the largest river on the peninsula and the second longest river in the province. Other significant rivers in the peninsula include the Churchill River, Rupert River, and Eastmain River.