Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. Newfoundland is an island , Labrador is an adjoining mainland coastal region which abuts Quebec. Newfoundland is fairly lightly populated, but Labrador is extremely sparsely populated. Both Newfoundland and Labrador are famous for their rugged scenery, cool wet maritime climate, and long history separate from Canada
Regions : from northwest to southeast : Labrador
The territory sharing a border with Quebec on the mainland of Canada. From the days of the Labrador fishery, trapping and whaling to military bases of the Cold War era, Labrador has rich history and breathtaking landscapes. Modern Labrador has vast stores of natural resources including copper, nickel and iron ore; developed and undeveloped hydro-electric sites and undeveloped off-shore natural gas and oil.
The nearly 700 km stretch from Port aux Basques in the south to St. Anthony in the north. Includes the Port au Port Peninsula, the Bay of Islands (with regional centre, Corner Brook), Gros Morne National Park, the Long Range Mountains, and the Northern Peninsula. Vikings to Acadians, the history and culture of Western Newfoundland is varied and diverse.
Includes the Baie Verte Peninsula & Green Bay area, the numerous islands of the North Coast (including New World Island, Twillingate Island, Fogo Island and Change Islands), Grand Falls-Windsor, and the famous international airport at Gander.
Includes the South Coast (mostly accessible only by ferry), and the Burin Peninsula.
the New Founde Land, from John Cabot’s landing grounds in the Bonavista Peninsula to Cape Spear, North America’s most easterly point near historic capital St. John’s.
Towns and cities
St. John’s – the provincial capital and largest city in Newfoundland. The city is known as the one of the oldest in North America and has one of the most lively City Councils in the world. The city is notable for the natural harbour which has provided shelter from the North Atlantic for more than five hundred years.
Conception Bay South – C.B.S., the largest town in Newfoundland, on the shore of beautiful Conception Bay.
Corner Brook – the pulp and paper centre of Newfoundland and a major transportation hub for the region.
Gander – this town grew up around Gander International Airport which developed into one of the most import airfields in the world during the Second World War.
Grand Falls-Windsor – home of the Salmon Festival, Grand Falls-Windsor is Central Newfoundland’s largest town.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay – One of the remaining few military bases in the province. Established in the World War II era (Goose and Gander were refuelling stops for warplanes en route to Europe from Canada and the US), it had a little-known population of 10,000 U.S. citizens at the height of the Cold War and was home to large numbers of aerial refuelling tankers of the United States Air Force. International NATO training activity at Goose Bay ended by 2006, but a hundred troops remain stationed here.
Labrador City – home to the largest open pit iron ore mine in Canada. Vast wilderness surround this modern, booming town. Together with its twin town Wabush, makes up the Labrador West region of the province.
Mount Pearl – the second largest city in Newfoundland which has grown up on the western edge of St John’s.
Twillingate – two islands that make up a scenic fishing town in Notre Dame Bay north of Lewisporte and Gander.
Understand : There are many extraordinary things about Newfoundland: the rugged natural beauty of the place, the extraordinary friendliness and humour of the local people, the traditional culture, and the unique dialect. Newfoundland was the home of the now-extinct Beothuk indigenous people, while Labrador is still home to the forest-dwelling Innu and the barren-dwelling Inuit, who are not related. Newfoundland was first discovered by Europeans in about 1000AD by the Vikings, who settled briefly but soon moved on. In 1497 Italian explorer John Cabot may have discovered Newfoundland, and claimed it for England.
Both Newfoundland and Labrador soon became popular places for European fishermen and whalers exploiting the Atlantic coast to come ashore for supply and rest. Newfoundland was the first overseas outpost of the British Empire: Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed in St John’s in August 1583, and took possession of the island for the British, who were slow to populate the island, however. The small French presence on the island was mostly eliminated by 1760. During the 19th century, Newfoundland received an influx of Irish settlers, adding another layer to the present-day character of the island in terms of its unique regional accents and musical traditions. Newfoundland chose not to join the Canadian Confederation in 1867, and became a self-governing colony, and by 1907 a Dominion, legally equivalent to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The beauty of Newfoundland can be found on the rocky coasts of the island and the relatively new, and stunningly beautiful East Coast Trail, but this is a truly coast-to-coast kind of place. There’s much to see in the Tundra of Labrador (often called “the Big Land”), the “mini-Rockies” of the West Coast’s Long Range Mountains and Lewis Hills, the historic Avalon Peninsula, home to the capital of St. John’s. Also don’t underestimate the power of the largely uninhabited Newfoundland interior. There is a raw, untouched quality to the entire place, especially where water meets rocks. Adventure racer Mats Andersson has described it as a mix of “Patagonia, Sweden, New Zealand and other countries from all around the world.”
As for the people, everyone talks to everyone; indeed, everyone helps everyone, and everyone knows everyone (people often can tell what part of the island someone is from by their last name).
Newfoundlanders are known for their distinctive manner of speech. Believe it or not, they speak dialects (that’s right, not accents) that are sometimes unintelligible to “mainland” Canadians – especially in outports such as Burgeo. Its roots (while still North American English) are mainly Irish, English and French, and the language has evolved and developed in semi-isolation for about 500 years. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English is about the size of a standard English dictionary. It is immediately noticeable to most visitors, or “Come-From-Aways” as they are occasionally called, that the syntax and grammar varies slightly. As for the accent, it varies from district to district in the province. As Canadian author Douglas Coupland puts it in Souvenir of Canada, Newfoundlanders “speak in a dialect that can rival Navajo for indecipherability – that is, when they really ham it up….”
Newfoundlanders pronounce Newfoundland to rhyme with ‘understand,’ placing emphasis on -LAND, not New or found-. It sounds something like “newfin-LAND.” Canadians outside of the Atlantic provinces (therefore, not including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well as Newfoundland) and tourists are noted for their pronunciation of Newfoundland as “new-FOUND-lind”, “NEW-fin-lind” or “NEW-found-lind.” Two “traditions” persist with a visit to Newfoundland—kissing the cod and the “screech-in.” (Both were actually enacted by Ben Mulroney in the Canadian Idol television show while he visited Newfoundland, demonstrating how widespread these activities are thought to be.) These “traditions” are little more than tourist activities invented by locals for a laugh. The tourists found them enjoyable, and now they are becoming extremely common. Commercial tours will often include these activities, concluding them with a certificate proclaiming the participant an honorary Newfoundlander.
the “Screech-in”- The most famous of newcomer traditions, mainlanders and visitors to the isle must drink a shot or glass of Screech (a brand of Jamaican Rum famous to Newfoundland). Take this all in good humour, but don’t be surprised if you don’t like the taste; the name has good meaning.
Kissing the Cod- As well as being “Screeched in”, occasionally visitors will be coaxed into “Kissing the Cod”. The visitor must kiss a codfish, emblem of the historic fishing industry, after arrival. While this does happen occasionally, it is usually a humorous part of a guided tour or similar event. The use of an actual fish is rare, though, especially since the introduction of the cod moratorium. Kissing a real codfish is discouraged by many, not to mention possibly unhygienic, so an imitation cod, made of wood, plastic, or rubber is used.
Genuine traditions practised in Newfoundland include celebrations of: “Bonfire Night”, with roots in the English “Guy Fawkes Night”; and “Old Christmas Day” which is the twelfth night of the Christmas season. The latter of these is also associated with the tradition of “Mummering” or “Janneying” which is still practiced in several other parts of the world as well.
The “Newfie” (also “Newf”) stereotype: in Canada, this figure is similar to the Hillbilly stereotype or the rural Hick stereotype. As with both of those cases, it is rooted in discrimination. While some Newfoundlanders may call themselves “Newfies”, it may be wise to refrain from calling the province’s residents as such yourself, as many see this as a slur or putdown when it comes from a non-native. Like “Canuck”, which began as a slur against Canadians, the word “Newfie” is acceptable to some, but err on the side of caution and use Newfoundlander instead. And finally, don’t say you’re in Canada when visiting Newfoundland. While there are no independence movements like in Quebec, the relationship between the island and the rest of the country can be controversial. Newfoundland is part of Canada, but referring to Newfoundlanders as Canadians will cause annoyance and people may think you want to start an argument. Criticism or jokes about the culture of Newfoundland or mispronouncing the island’s name could give you icy responses.
Access : Coordinates: 53, -60 / By plane : Flights from major centres in Ontario, Quebec and the other Atlantic Provinces arrive at St. John’s airport several times per day. Flights to Stephenville from Toronto are available during the summer months and allow easy travel to the nearby city of Corner Brook. Stephenville also has daily service within the province. Flights to Deer Lake from mainland Canada allow easy access to Corner Brook. From Deer Lake, you will need to rent a car, or catch the bus or taxi to reach Corner Brook. Daily flights to Wabush and Goose Bay (Labrador) and to Gander are also available. In the summer season, there are daily flights between St. John’s and London Heathrow on Air Canada, and to Dublin on WestJet, probably the shortest Trans-Atlantic regular flights available. Air St-Pierre connects St John’s to the nearby islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon. Canadian citizens may enter with photo ID and proof of citizenship. US and EU citizens will require passports. Americans require their passports to enter France and Europeans require theirs to pass through Canada.
By car : The only outside road to reach the province overland runs from Quebec into Labrador north of Baie-Comeau and Manicougan’s “Manic 5” hydroelectric development a long, isolated gravel road (Quebec Route 389) leads northeast to Labrador City and the Trans-Labrador Highway. The road from Labrador City through Churchill Falls to Goose Bay was completely paved by 2015. Gravel highway onward to Cartwright and Port Hope Simpson opened in 2009; there are no services (or fuel) for more than 400km on this road. One may continue to drive all the way to Blanc Sablon, Quebec and take the 2-hour ferry crossing to the island. If the island is your destination, you must take a ferry. From Port aux Basques to Corner Brook, it’s just over 200 km of driving, while the drive to St. John’s is a trek of over 900 km. In the summer, a drive from Argentia to St. John’s will take you through about 130 km of the province. It is not possible to reach Blanc Sablon, Quebec (the border town near Forteau, Labrador) on any direct overland path from Sept-Iles as the roads simply do not exist in that section of the province. There is a coastal boat from Rimouski-Sept-Iles-Anticosti but its route stops in every outport and takes half a week.
By bus : Interprovincial bus passengers must transfer from bus to ferry at North Sydney NS. On arrival to the island, one may board DRL Coachlines Ltd, which runs daily scheduled passenger coach services from Port Aux Basques to St. John’s. DRL’s head office is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia there’s also an office in St. John’s. Another bus service from Port Aux Basques to St. John’s is Newhook’s Transportation at . By train : A train on the Quebec, North Shore and Labrador line (Sept-Iles-Schefferville, Quebec) makes one stop in Emeril, Labrador. This isolated line is not connected to the main North American rail network. Elsewhere, train is no longer an option. The sarcastically-named “Newfie Bullet”, a narrow-gauge line across the island, ended its long career in 1988 with the rails removed and the right of way converted into the T’Railway Provincial Park, part of the Trans Canada Trail. Its route was largely paralleled by the later Trans-Canada Highway.
By boat : Marine Atlantic ferry service runs from North Sydney to Port aux Basques (on the west coast of the island) throughout the year, and to Argentia (about 90km from St. John’s) during the summer. The duration of the ride depends on the weather and water conditions, so patience is of the essence. It is advisable to call Marine Atlantic ahead of time to make a reservation . If you are bringing a U-haul or something other than a passenger vehicle, you will likely be considered a Commercial Vehicle. Commercial Vehicles can only make reservations by doubling the usual fare. It is cheaper to simply take your number, wait in line and hope for the best. In general, Marine Atlantic Ferries cater to your every whim, carrying food, alcohol, gift shops, cinemas and sleeping accommodations. There will be lots for you to do. A ferry links St. Barbe (on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula) and Blanc Sablon (on Quebec’s border with Labrador) . In winter, the southern terminus of this ferry is Corner Brook. A passenger ferry links Fortune, Newfoundland & Labrador to Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France). It is no longer possible to bring a vehicle to the French islands, as the car ferry formerly at spmexpress.net is no longer running.
Pilots Hill in St John’s
Visit Gander and its International Airport, once the refueling stop for nearly all international flights from Europe to North America
Historic Signal Hill fort and walking trail (watch the sun come up over the ocean) in St. John’s
Whale watching boat tours
Iceberg boat tours at Twillingate, northwest of Gander. Much better viewing than from Avalon Peninsula
The Battery – the oldest part of St. John’s
Cape Spear (the most easterly point of North America and very windy too!)
The East Coast Trail (stunningly beautiful rugged hiking trail – hike and camp for days along cliffs and through forests)
the downtown row houses and natural harbour of St. John’s
Puffins, whales, caribou, moose, eagles, otter, and other wildlife all over the province
the many small communities along the Labrador coast
Fishing stages, wharves, and the remnants of the province’s long history of fishing
Visit St. Lawrence and see the site of the shipwrecked USS Truxtun and USS Pollux
Go ‘Around the Bay’, a term Newfoundlanders use to talk about travelling around the numerous outport communities. Often this is limited to those on the Avalon Peninsula in the area between Conception Bay and St. John’s. Points of interest, historical and aesthetic, along the way: Bay Bulls, Roaches Line, Brigus, Cupids, Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace (the original capitol of the island), Carbonear, Victoria – Note: the new highway now runs around the townships, making access to Bay Roberts and even as far as Carbonear faster and easier, but you will miss out on some interesting scenery and historical places by taking the highway.
After you go ‘Around the Bay’, and end up in Carbonear or Victoria, spend the night at a local inn. Get up the next day go “Around the Belt”, a term Newfoundlanders use to describe travelling down the shore, up north around the tip of the peninsula, down the other side, and across the Heart’s Content Barrens. Points of interest along the way: Spout Cove, Bradley’s Cove, Western Bay, Northern Bay, Flambro Head, Lower Island Cove, Caplin Cove, Bay de Verde, Grate’s Cove, Daniel’s Cove, Winterton, Heart’s Content
Visit L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula on the island, site of the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America and believed to be the landfall site of Leif Eriksson as related in the Vinland sagas. It is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Newfoundland and Labrador; the others are Gros Morne and the Basque Whaling Station in Red Bay.
Visit the Basque Whaling Site in Red Bay, Labrador.
Visit Battle Harbour National Historic Site on an island near Mary’s Harbour, Labrador a restored ghost town, this was the historical hub of the Labrador salt fish industry.
Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, Winterton. 10AM-5PM. Archives, conserves, and exhibits local wooden boat history and its contribution to the province’s economy and way of life. $7.
Activities : Hike in Gros Morne National Park or enjoy Terra Nova National Park
Visit Western Brook Pond, a land locked fjord
Hike the Trans Canada Trail in Newfoundland, following the former CN “Newfie Bullet” narrow-gauge line across the island
Downhill ski at Marble Mountain or cross-country ski at Blow-Me-Down
Visit Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America.
Get a photo underneath the sign marking entry to the outport town of Dildo.
Take a driving tour of the other colourfully-named outports like Joe Batt’s Arm, Leading Tickles, Little Burnt Bay, and others.
Take a ferry to visit the Southern Communities of the province not accessible by road
Snowmobile in Stephenville, Newfoundland’s main hub for this activity
Go to Sunday brunch at the Battery Hotel in St. John’s, then walk off the calories with a walking hike around the Signal Hill trail, a rugged, terraced path that leads through the old Battery village and around Signal Hill, up to Cabot tower and back to the Battery Hotel, giving a panoramic view of both the Atlantic Ocean, St. John’s harbour, and the city itself.
Bike the Viking Trail: A place of austere, unspoiled beauty in the far east of the western world.
Hike the East Coast Trail. Lots of opportunity for day hikes and backpacking.
Events : July 1 is the nation’s birthday for Canadians (from the British North America Act of July 1, 1867) and moving day in Quebec; in Newfoundland it’s not quite so simple. Newfoundland suffered crippling military losses at the Battle of Mount Hamel (part of the Battle of the Somme in the Great War) on July 1, 1916 so this day remains a war memorial. Paradoxically, solemn war remembrance and national birthday celebration take place simultaneously, same day.
If visiting in mid-July, don’t forget to party in Grand Falls – Windsor at the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival, an annual festival including a salmon dinner, a Newfie Night dance, and the Splash Concert.
If visiting in August, go to the Royal St. John’s Regatta at Quidi Vidi Lake in the city, the oldest sporting event in North America (160 years and counting). It is traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August or the first good weather day after. On this day, most of St. John’s shuts down, and an average crowd of 50,000 people go to see the races and partake of the many concession stands.
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