Situated in the North West Atlantic Ocean, just south of Greenland, you will discover Newfoundland (bottom) and Labrador (top).Known affectionately as ‘The Rock’ and ‘The Big Land’ respectively, it is here that you will discover true exceptionalism and a land of many firsts.
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) was England’s oldest overseas colony. It is also Canada’s youngest province (the only one with two regions) which are also named after two dog breeds.
NL is also the most homogeneous population of European origin in Canada, yet the most linguistically diverse.
NL is as rich in natural beauty as it is in history, the only region in all of North America (co-shared with Alaska) with icebergs, whales, oceans, seas, and mountains, imagine that.
As Canada’s best-kept secret, why not take a few moments to explore everything our province has to offer you because NL, in all its magnificence, is certain to capture your heart.
Newfoundland (Vinland) and Labrador’s (Markland) first European discoveries were by Norse Viking Leif Ericson in 1000
and again by Venetian explorer Giovanni Caboto (Anglicized John Cabot) in 1497.
NL’s discovery marked the beginning of European expansion to North America. In this regard, it truly connects the ‘Ole World with the New’.
Long before the first Vikings arrived, NL has had a rich and ancient indigenous history with the arrival of Paleo-Indians to Labrador 6500 BC.
In 1583, British explorer Humphrey Gilbert stood on the shores at St. John’s harbour and laid claim to Newfoundland under a royal charter by England’s Queen Elizabeth 1.
For nearly half a millennium (452 years to be exact), NL operated mostly as a British fishing colony.
Countless wars broke out over the centuries, particularity between France and England. Here the naval superpowers of the day battled along our shores for control of the North American continent.
Only in 1904, did France finally terminate its last territorial claim, the ‘French shore’ region of western Newfoundland.
After flirting with the idea of joining Canada for the better part of a century, NL finally entered the Canadian Confederation. On March 31, 1949, NL became the tenth province…but only as “Newfoundland”.
Newfoundland’s legal claim to Labrador was a long-lasting source of dispute for neighbouring French Quebec. It was only settled in 1927 by a Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruling in London.
In fact, our province’s name was only officially and legally changed to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001 via an amendment to the Constitution of Canada.
Given its remote geographical status along with colonial rule until the mid-20th century, NL retains its uniquely evolved culture and symbolizes a bygone era.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are often described as ‘salt of the earth’. We are known as some of the kindest, most welcoming and colourful, creative people you will ever meet.
Whether it is our ocean proximity or our dependency on it, anyone who meets us is immediately touched by our charm, our proud, modest demeanour and of course our knack for storytelling.
We have been welcoming visitors for over 500 years and our warm spirit is world famous. We consider our people to be our greatest asset.
The majority of NL’s population can be traced to SW England and SE Ireland. The province is also home to a French-speaking minority, found mostly in the western region of Newfoundland.
NL is home to four peoples of Aboriginal ancestry too: the Inuit, the Innu, the Mi’kmaq and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut (formerly the Labrador Inuit-Metis). The Inuit are the descendants of the Thule people who migrated to Labrador 800 years ago.
Did You Knows?
- was originally called Terra Nova (‘New Land’ in Old Italian)?
- is the world’s 16th largest island; Canada’s fourth-largest island, roughly the size of Japan?
- owns an English dialect known as Newfoundland English and a French dialect known as Newfoundland French?
- motorists drove on the left side of the road until 1947?
- became its own country in 1907 when given dominion status by the UK (along with New Zealand, Australia and Canada)? It remained on an equal status until joining the Canadian Confederation.
- is home to Gros Morne National Park, a natural wonder that is 20 times older than the Rockies?
- (including Labrador) has 29 species of marine life (including whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and the largest population of humpbacks on the planet?
- is the largest and northernmost geographical region in Atlantic Canada, slightly larger than the US State of Colorado?
- received its name in 1498 by João Fernandes Lavrador, a Portuguese explorer who sighted the region?
- is home to an Inuit self-governing region called Nunatsiavut, which, translated from Inuttut, means “Our Beautiful Land”?
- was first visited by the Moravian Brethren of Herrnhut, Saxony? In 1760 they came to the Labrador Coast to minister to the migratory Inuit tribes.
- encompasses the easternmost section of the Canadian Shield, a sweeping geographical region of thin soil and abundant mineral resources?
- is home to the remnants of a sixteenth-century Basques whaling station in Red Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
- is the only known place in North America the German military conducted land operations during WWII? On October 22, 1943, German submarine U-537 landed in Martin Bay and set up a remote weather station.