WELCOME TO NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR!
Written by: Wendy Williams (a.k.a. Mom)
Newfoundland was named Terra Nova after John Cabot’s arrival and this translates into Newfoundland. Labrador may have been named after the Portugese designation Terra Del Lavrador. The capital city is St. John’s. Signal Hill has a building dedicated to Cabot landing in Newfoundland. The people of Newfoundland are famous for their generosity and caring as, whatever they have, they are willing to share. This was evident from their contribution to stranded people over the years as well as their amazing hospitality during the 911 tragedy.
Labrador is the much larger mainland to the north and Newfoundland is the smaller island to the south. The west coast of Newfoundland contains the Long Range Mountains. Bordering these mountains are: forests, valleys and deep bays. Exploit, Gander, Humber and Terra Nova rivers drain this area. The west coast is forested and populations are scattered. North east Newfoundland fronts on the Atlantic Ocean and has many bays, coves, islands and fiords. The south coast region is sometimes cut off for a few days by drift ice throughout the winter and early spring. The inland regions are hilly and rugged, but there is timber growth in the well drained lowlands.
The Beothuk once lived throughout Newfoundland. There are still several Aboriginal communities: the Mi’kmaq on the island and the Innu, Inuit and Inuit-Metis in Labrador. Later European settlers were Irish, French (some Acadian), and some Scottish from Cape Breton Island. Many Aboriginal people died as they fell victim to European diseases, especially tuberculosis.
Labrador and a large section of Newfoundland are situated on the Canadian Shield which is covered with ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks. The Churchill and other large fast flowing rivers rush to the Labrador Sea. A very rich mineral deposit was discovered in 1993. Nickel, copper and cobalt are mined. Ordovician rock near Conception Bay yields huge quantities of iron ore. Bell Island rock has reserves of billions of tons of hematite iron ore. The north east coast has ores containing copper, lead, zinc, gold and silver. There is a hydro electric dam in Labrador called Churchill Falls.
Vegetation in Labrador is confined to subarctic lichen due to the cool climate and harsh growing conditions. There are some boreal forests both in Newfoundland and Labrador where conditions support growth: balsam fir, black spruce, larch, pine, birch, aspen, alder, pin cherry and mountain ash. Snowfall and the moist climate tend to keep the water table high. Fog is commonly created by the mixture of the cold Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream.
Not so long ago, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland were famous for the millions of cod fish in the surrounding waters. English, French, Portugal and Spain came to fish and return home with ship loads of salted cod. Without proper conservation over the years, this resource has been overfished and seriously depleted. Several other fish species are still harvested: turbot, plaice, and redfish.
Several mammals to be found are: caribou, moose, black bear, polar bear, beaver, fox, lynx, rabbit, otter and muskrat. Coastal areas are home to nesting seabirds such as: gulls, murres and puffins.
Transportation is provided by a network of roads and highways including the Trans-Canada Highway. Ferry travel and helicopter and plane fly-ins are available.
Vibrant distinctive cultures offer crafts, traditions, cooking, art, music and writing. Some noted people from Newfoundland and Labrador (to name a few) are: poet, E.J. Pratt, painters, David Smallwood and Mary Pratt, novelists Margaret Duley and Wayne Johnston.
Many famous musicians have resided in the area and local Celtic music became popular in the 1990’s.
Visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador can enjoy the beautiful landscapes, interesting cultures and a variety of music. Most of all, the grand hospitality of the people who live there is an experience to be treasured. Plan to tour a unique Canadian province with unique Canadian people.