Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland & Labrador

Confederation date: March 31, 1949
Population (2001): 512,930
License plate: A World of Difference
Capital: St. John’s

Province’s Motto:
QUAERITE PRIME REGNUM DEI – Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador — most people just call it Newfoundland — is Canada’s most easterly province. The two parts are divided by the Strait of Belle Isle. Newfoundland lies off the east coast, and Labrador — a much larger mainland — lies to the Northwest.

Early fishermen and explorers had many names for the province, including “New Founde Lande“, “Terra Nova“, “Terre-Neuve“, and “Terra de Bacalao“. “Newfoundland” is actually Canada’s oldest (European-origin) place-name, first mentioned way back in 1503, in The English Daybooks of King’s Payments. Worth mentioning here is that Gaspar Corte-Real was the first to name the mainland “Terra del Lavrador”, which means Land of the Farmer. It was later anglicized as “Labrador”.

The capital city is St. John’s. It’s not confirmed, but it’s a common myth that John Cabot had named the area St. John’s Isle because he landed there on June 24 (1497). Not disputed, however, is that it was first established as a base for English fisheries in 1504, founded in 1583, became a seat of the government in 1832, incorporated in 1888, and received a city charter in 1921.

Area: At 405,720 square kilometres (156,649 square miles), it represents 4.1% of Canada, and ranks 7th in size among the provinces (9th among both the provinces and territories).

Elevations: The highest point is found at Mount Caubvick at 1,652 metres (5,420 feet); and the lowest point is along the coastline, at sea level.

Water: The area has more than 800 lakes, the largest of which is Michikamau Lake at 7,666 square kilometres (2,960 square miles). The waters over the Grand Banks are noted for being among the foggiest in the world!

Temperature: The average January temperature is -16.4 ˚Celsius (2.5˚ Fahrenheit) in Goose Bay and -3.9˚ Celsius (2.5˚ Fahrenheit) in St. John’s. The average July temperature is 15.8˚ Celsius (60.4˚ Fahrenheit) in Goose Bay and 15.5˚ Celsius (59.9˚ Fahrenheit) in St. John’s.

Superlative Temperature: The lowest recorded low for the province was set on February 17, 1973 when Esker Station (Labrador’s) barometer read -51.1˚ Celsius (-60˚ Fahrenheit). The highest temperature ever
recorded for the province was on August 11, 1914 at Northwest River (Labrador) at 41.7˚ Celsius (107.1˚ Fahrenheit).

Snow & Rain: The average annual snowfall is 445.2 centimetres (175.3 inches) in Goose Bay, and 359.4 centimetres (141.5 inches) in St. John’s. The average annual precipitation is 946.1 mm (59.6 inches) in Goose Bay, and 1,513 mm (59.6 inches) in St. John’s.

More Superlatives: The province’s greatest recorded annual precipitation was in 1983, at Pools Cove: 2,253 mm (88.7 inches). St. John’s can boast owning many of Canada’s weather records: foggiest, windiest, cloudiest, and wettest. Cartwright had the greatest recorded snowfall over 5 consecutive days on January 1, 1965 with 182 centimetres (71.1 inches) of snow.

National Parks:
Gros Morne, in Rocky Harbour (1,943 square kilometres / 750 square miles); and Terra Nova, in Glovertown (399 square kilometres / 154 square miles).

There are 95 provincial parks covering 449,428 ha. (1,735 square miles) which makes up of 1.1% of Newfoundland and Labrador’s area. That’s 34 natural environment parks, 20 natural and scenic reserve parks, 20 outdoor recreation parks, 15 wilderness and ecological reserves, 5 park reserves and 1 waterway park.

Some of the National Historic Sites and Parks in the province are L’Anse aux Meadows (north of St. Anthony), Basque Whaling Archaeological Site (Red Bay), Cape Spear (near St. John’s), and Signal Hill (St. John’s).

Some of the regional sites are Beothuk Village (Grand Falls-Windsor), Commissariat House (St. John’s), and Lester-Garland Premises (Trinity).

In the early 1990′s, there were approximately 175,600 dwellings, with a population density of about 1.5 persons for square kilometres (4 per square miles) — the lowest among all the provinces. And only 1 Native reserve.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy is mostly based on its natural resources and their processing — such as hydroelectric power, mining and fishing. It is worth noting here that the province is Canada’s largest producer
of iron ore and has significant mining in lead, zinc, as well as other minerals.

Province’s Symbols:
Tree: Black spruce
Flower: Pitcher plant
Bird: Atlantic puffin
Gemstone: Labradorite

More trivia:

The flag was adopted on June 6, 1980.

The Coat of Arms was granted by King Charles I on January 1, 1637; and officially adopted on January 1, 1928.

Official Language:

Provincial Holidays:

Newfoundland celebrate the closest prior Mondays to St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), St. George’s Day (April 23), Discovery Day (June 24), and Orangemen’s Day (July 12).

Time zone:
Newfoundland is basically different from the rest of Canada in way of time zone, and they are proud of it! The Newfoundland time zone (on the island and the south coast of Labrador) is one half hour ahead of Atlantic time zone; the rest of Labrador is in Atlantic time zone.

Amazingly Still on the Books – can you believe it?
In St. John’s, it’s an offence to put your garbage in thin, small bags. The bags must be at least 66 by 91 centimetres in size.

A brief history of the beginning of the European “invasion”:
According to legends and sagas, Eirik the Red, his father Thorvald and the rest of his family set sail from their Norway home into the Atlantic. The subsequent discoveries of land was not made out of a sense for adventure, but rather because Eirik and his family were banished from their homeland. Thorvald, a farmer, was involved in some killings. His son, Eirik, not much better, also killed — in a dispute about borrowed furniture — so that they were both declared as outlaws by their local government.

They discovered Greenland and settled there. Norwegian Bjarni Bardsson sailed to this great new land. But his journey took a long time, as he kept getting lost because of bad weather. He saw unknown lands before finally landing at Brattahlid in Eriksfjord. Bjarni told tales of what he’d seen along the way. Eirik’s brother, Leif, wanted to see for himself the one described as having forests, because the Greenland economy was lacking certain resources such as timber. So he sailed there and called it Vinland. The area is now known as Newfoundland.

Why Vinland? In the forests, the vines were so heavy with grapes, that he called it Vinland, meaning the land of wine.

They say first impressions are the most important … Leif’s brother, Thorvald Jr., went to this land full of timber. He met some natives, but the encounter did not go well. To make a long story short, he ended up slaughtering eight of the natives almost as soon as they got there. His men fled and returned to Greenland.

More of Newfoundland & Labrador’s History:
Circa 550 A.D. Legend has it that this is when St. Brendan arrived in Newfoundland.

Circa 900 – Algonquian people were in Labrador.

Circa 1000 – The ancestors of Beothuk Indians were in Newfoundland.

Circa 1000 – The Vikings landed in Labrador, and built a settlement at the present-day L’Anse aux Meadows.

1400s – The Basque, French, Portuguese and Spanish fished on the Grand Banks and Labrador Sea.

1497 June 24 – John Cabot sailed along the Newfoundland coast, and lands — where it is believed to be — on the province’s east coast.

1500s – The whale oil industry was at Red Bay, along the coast of Labrador.

1500 – 1501 – Gaspar Corte-Real explored, and established Portuguese claim to fisheries, along the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

1506 – Jean Denys made what is believed the be the first known Norman voyage to Newfoundland, and landed in what is present-day Renews.

1509 – During that winter, a colony was established in St. John’s in the name of Britain. No one survived.

1523 – 1524 Giovanni de Verrazano explored North America along the coast. He also named present-day Newfoundland and Nova Scotia Arcadia.

1527 – John Rut explored the Labrador coast during that summer.

1528 – The first permanent residence was built in St. John’s by a merchant named Bute.

1534 May 10 – Explorer Jacques Cartier reached Newfoundland, explored and mapped the coast.

1558 – The first settlers arrived at Trinity.

1583 August 5 – Humphrey Gilbert claimed land for the British in St. John’s.

1585 October 10 – On this day, Bernard Drake destroyed the Spanish fishery in the Newfoundland waters.

1586 – 1587 Explorer John Davis explored Trinity Bay.

1610 May 2 – King James I granted a charter to colonize Newfoundland to the Company of Adventurers and Planters.

August – Governor John Guy brought settlers to Cupids.

Also, pirate Peter Easton built a fort at Harbour Grace — it was a base to attack shipping.

1612 October – Explorer John Guy explored Trinity Bay.

1614 – An English colony was established at Conception Bay.

1616 June 17 – William Vaughan bought Avalon Peninsula. He had made many attempts to establish a Welsh colony at Trepassey and Renews.

1621 – George Calvert bought the Avalon Peninsula from Vaughan, and then established a colony at Ferryland.

1623 April 7 – George Calvert obtained a royal charter for the Province of Avalon.

1633 – King Charles I forbade settlement on Newfoundland.

1637 November 13 – King Charles I somehow granted all of Newfoundland to a group of nobles, headed by David Kirke, but he didn’t give any authority over the fishermen.

1638 – David Kirke consequently became the first governor of Newfoundland. He then went on to build forts at Ferryland, St. John’s, and Bay de Verde. He brought 100 colonists.

1662 – The French established a fishing settlement at Placentia.

1665 December 13 – The Dutch plundered St. John’s.


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