The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador
Image:ca-nf.PNG Image:Nl-coat-thb.jpg
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: Quaerite Primum Regnum Dei (Seek ye first the kingdom of God)
Capital St. John's
Largest City St. John's
Provincial Anthem Ode to Newfoundland

 - Total
 - % fresh water
10th largest
(7th lgst prov.)

405 212 km²

 - Total (2001)

 - Density
Ranked 9th

533 800

Admittance into Confederation

 - Date

 - Order

Dominion of
joined Confed.


Time zone UTC -3.5
Postal information

Postal abbreviation
Postal code prefix

NL (formerly NF)
ISO 3166-2 CA-NL


 House seats
 Senate seats



Premier Danny Williams (PC)
Lieutenant-Governor Edward Roberts
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador (French, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador) is Canada's tenth province. Its capital is St. John's.

Geographically, the province consists of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador, on Canada's Atlantic coast. Since 1964 the province has referred to itself at a provincial level as "Newfoundland and Labrador". In October 2001, a constitutional amendment was passed by the Senate, the House of Commons and the House of Assembly changing the official name to "Newfoundland and Labrador". This amendment came into force on December 6, 2001.

The province's population is 533 800 (Newfoundlanders and Labradorians).

Newfoundland has its own dialect of English known as Newfoundland English.



The Colony of Newfoundland

Newfoundland has a number of historical firsts. The oldest known settlement anywhere in The Americas built by Europeans was located at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. It was founded circa 1000 A.D. by the Vikings. Remnants and artifacts of the occupation can still be seen at L'Anse aux Meadows, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was later inhabited by the Mi'kmaq and the Beothuks. Explorer John Cabot claimed Newfoundland as England's first overseas colony after landing at Bonavista in 1497.

From 1610 to 1728, Proprietary Governors were appointed to establish colonies on the island. John Guy was governor of the first colony, Cuper's Cove. Other colonies were Bristol's Hope, Renews, South Falkland and Avalon which became a province in 1623. The first governor given jurisdiction over all of Newfoundland was Sir David Kirke in 1638. The island of Newfoundland was nearly conquered by New France explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in the 1690s.

Newfoundland did not become part of Canada until 1949 when it joined confederation under the premier Joseph Smallwood. Until then it was a separate dominion of the British Empire.

Newfoundland received a colonial assembly in 1832 which was and still is referred to as the House of Assembly. This was after a long battle by such reformers as William Carson , Patrick Morris and John Kent.The new government was rather unstable and divided along sectarian lines. In 1842, the elected House of Assembly was amalgamated with the appointed Legislative Council. This was changed back in 1848 to two separate chambers. It was after this that the movement for responsible government got under way.

The Dominion of Newfoundland

In 1854 Newfoundland was granted responsible government by the British government. In 1855, Philip Francis Little, a native of Prince Edward Island, won a majority over Sir Hugh Hoyles and the Conservatives. Little formed the first administration from 1855 to 1858. Newfoundland rejected confederation in the 1869 general election. It remained as a colony until acquiring dominion status in 1907 along with New Zealand. It attempted to reach a trade agreement with the United States but failed. The Dominion of Newfoundland reached its golden age under the premiership of Sir Robert Bond of the Liberals.

Newfoundland produced its own regiment to fight in the First World War. On July 1, 1916, most of that regiment was wiped out at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The war debt sustained because of the regiment led to increased borrowing in the post-war era. Political scandal was a severe problem in the 1920s. In 1923 , Prime Minister Sir Richard Squires was arrested on charges of corruption. He was released soon after on bail, but the scandal was reviewed by the British-led Hollis Walker commission. Soon after, the Squires government fell. Squires returned to power in 1928 only to control a country that was drastically hurt by the Great Depression.

On April 5, 1932, a mob of 10,000 people marched on the Colonial building (Seat of the House of Assembly) and forced Squires to flee. Soon after there was an election and Squires lost again. The next government, led by Frederick C. Alderdice, called upon the British government to take direct control until Newfoundland could be self-sustaining.

In 1934 the Dominion gave up its self-governing status. In all but name it was a colony again. Government by commission continued until confederation in 1949.

Map of Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland Coat of Arms
Newfoundland Coat of Arms

The Province of Newfoundland (and Labrador)

In 1946 an election was held for a National Convention to decide the future of Newfoundland. The Convention voted to hold a referendum to decide between continuing the Commission of Government or restoring responsible government but Britain, insisting that it would not give Newfoundland any further financial assistance added a third option of having Newfoundland join Canada onto the ballot. After much debate, an initial referendum was held on June 3 1948 to decide between continuing with the Commission of Government, reverting to dominion status or joining Canadian Confederation. The result was inconclusive with 44.6 % supporting the restoration of dominion status, 41.1% for confederation with Canada, and 14.3% for continuing the Commission of Government. A second referendum on July 22 1948 which asked Newfoundlanders to choose between confederation and dominion status was decided by a vote of 52 to 48 percent for confederation with Canada. Newfoundland joined Canada on March 31, 1949.

In 1959, a local controversy arose when the provincial government pressured the Moravian Church to abandon its mission station at Hebron, Labrador, resulting in the relocation southward of the area's Inuit population, which had lived there since the mission was established in 1831. Politics would be dominated by the Liberal Party under Joseph R. Smallwood until 1972. In 1972 the Smallwood government was finally replaced by the Tory administration of Frank Moores. In 1979 Brian Peckford became Premier. During this time Newfoundland was involved in a serious battle with the federal government for control of offshore oil resources. In the end, the dispute was decided by compromise. In 1989, Clyde Wells and the Liberal Party came to power ending seventeen years of Conservative rule.

In 1992, the federal government declared a moratorium on the Atlantic cod fishery, owing to severely declining catches in the late 1980s. The consequences of this decision reverberated throughout the provincial economy of Newfoundland in the 1990s, particularly as once-vibrant rural communities faced a sudden exodus. The economic impact of the closure of the Atlantic cod fishery on Newfoundland has been compared to the effect of closing every manufacturing plant in Ontario. The cod fishery which had provided Newfoundlanders on the south and east coasts with a livelihood for over 200 years was gone, although the federal government helped fishermen and fish plant workers make the adjustment with a multi-billion dollar program named The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy (TAGS).

Meanwhile in the late 1980s the federal government, along with its Crown corporation Petro Canada and other private sector petroleum exploration companies, committed to developing the oil and gas resources of the Hibernia oil field on the northeast portion of the Grand Banks. Throughout the mid-1990s thousands of Newfoundlanders were employed on offshore exploration platforms, as well as in the construction of the Hibernia Gravity Base Structure (GBS) and Hibernia topsides.

In 1996 the former federal minister of fisheries, Brian Tobin, was successful in winning the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party following the retirement of premier Clyde Wells. Tobin rode the waves of economic good fortune (relatively speaking) as the downtrodden provincial economy was undergoing a fundamental shift, largely as a result of the oil and gas industry's financial stimulus, although the effects of this were mainly felt only in communities on the Avalon Peninsula.

Good fortune also fell on Tobin following the discovery of some of the world's largest nickel deposits at Voisey's Bay . Tobin committed to negotiating a better royalty deal for the province with private sector mining interests than previous governments had done with the Churchill Falls hydroelectric development deal in the 1970s. Following Tobin's return to federal politics in 2000, the provincial Liberal Party devolved into internal battling for the leadership, leaving its new leader, Roger Grimes, in a weakened position as premier.

The pressure of the oil and gas industry to explore offshore in Atlantic Canada saw Newfoundland and Nova Scotia submit to a federal arbitration to decide on a disputed offshore boundary between the two provinces in the Laurentian Basin. The 2003 settlement rewrote an existing boundary in Newfoundland's favour, opening this area up to energy exploration.

In 2003, the federal government declared a moratorium on the last remaining cod fishery in Atlantic Canada - in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While Newfoundland was again the most directly affected province by this decision, communities on Quebec's North Shore and in other parts of Atlantic Canada also faced difficulties.

Premier Grimes, facing a pending election that fall, used the Gulf cod decision and perceived federal bias against the province as a catalyst to try to rally citizens around his administration. Grimes called for a review of the Act of Union by which the province had become a part of Canada and on July 2, 2003, the findings of the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada (which Grimes had created in 2002) were released. It noted the following stressors in the relationship between the province and Canada:

  • The huge impact of the destruction of the cod stocks.
  • Hydroelectricity resources in Labrador have primarily benefitted Quebec.
  • Chronically high unemployment.
  • Lowest per-capita income in Canada.
  • The highest tax rates.
  • The worst out-migration.

The report called for:

  • more collaborative federalism;
  • an action team to deal with the fishery;
  • collaboration between Canada, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador on the development of the Gull Island hydro site;
  • revision of the Atlantic Accord so that offshore oil and gas reserves primarily benefit the province;
  • immediate and realistic negotiations on joint management of the fishery.

In October 2003, the Liberals lost the provincial election to the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Danny Williams.

See also


  • "This Marvelous Terrible Place: Images of Newfoundland and Labrador" by Momatiuk et al.,Firefly Books; ISBN 1552092259; (September 1998)
  • "Newfoundland & Labrador" by Lawrence Jackson, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd; ISBN 1550412612; (August 1999)
  • "Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador" by Department of Geography Memorial University of Newfoundland, Breakwater Books Ltd; ISBN 1550810006; (1991)
  • "Suspended State: Newfoundland Before Canada" by Gene Long, Breakwater Books Ltd; ISBN 1550811444; (April 1, 1999)
  • "True Newfoundlanders: Early Homes and Families of Newfoundland and Labrador" by Margaret McBurney et al., Boston Mills Pr; ISBN 1550461990; (June 1997)
  • "Biogeography and Ecology of the Island of Newfoundland: Monographiae Biologicae" by G. Robin South (Editor) Dr W Junk Pub Co; ISBN 9061931010; (April 1983)

External links

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site
  • Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador
  • "The Tenth Province: Newfoundland joins Canada, 1949", by Melvin Baker

Last updated: 02-07-2005 15:47:24
Last updated: 05-01-2005 16:42:59