Situated in the North West Atlantic, due 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 and is Canada’s youngest province (the only one with two regions) which is 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. As Canada’s best-kept secret, why not take a few moments to explore everything it 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 AD and 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 arrival of the Vikings, NL had a vibrant and ancient indigenous history with the arrival of Paleo-Indians to Labrador 6500 BC.
In 1583, British explorer Humphrey Gilbert stood on the shores of St. John’s harbour and lay claim to Newfoundland under a royal charter by England’s Queen Elizabeth I.
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, as the naval superpowers of the day battled along NL’s 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 would finally enter the Canadian Confederation on March 31, 1949, becoming its tenth province, but only as ‘Newfoundland’.
Newfoundland’s legal claim to Labrador has been a long-lasting source of dispute for neighbouring French Quebec (only settled in 1927 by a Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruling in London). In fact, the 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 location 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’. They are known as some of the kindest, most welcoming, and colourful, creative people you will ever meet.
Whether it is their ocean proximity or their dependency on it, anyone who meets NLers is immediately touched by their charm, proud modest demeanour, and of course their knack for storytelling. NL has been welcoming visitors for over 500 years and their warm spirit is world famous. They consider their people to be their greatest asset.
The majority of NL’s population comes from southwest England and southeast Ireland. The province is home to a French-speaking minority as well, 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 began their migration 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 and 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 first 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, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Red Bay?
- is the only known place in North America that German military conducted land operations during WWII? On October 22, 1943, German submarine U-537 arrived at Martin Bay and set up a remote weather station.