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Our heritage in Canada

The unique culture of Newfoundland and Labrador is a product of our English, Irish, French, and Indigenous heritage. This province’s history is rich with stories and legends, explorers, and inventors.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the newest of Canada's 10 provinces, having joined the confederation only in 1949; its name was officially changed to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001. The island, which was named the “newfoundelande,” or New Found Land, by late 15th-century explorers, lies athwart the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Native peoples of Canada came from Asia 12,000 years ago, crossing Bering Land Bridge that joined Russia to Alaska. 12 tribes made up the First Nations.

Canada's Government gave one of the First Nation tribes, The Inuit, the Nunavut Territory in northeast Canada.

The first known European presence in North America belongs to the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows, at the very northern tip of the island, was the location of a Viking colony that was discovered in 1960, and it’s believed that the settlement was founded around 1,000 years ago. So Christopher Columbus actually wasn’t the first European in North America.This spot is so important that it was named a Canadian UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

John Cabot claimed the Island for England in 1497 and it was a British colony until 1949, when Newfoundland and Labrador became a Canadien province.

In 1610 John Guy established the first sponsored colony in Newfoundland in Cupids.

In 1699 King William III Act acknowledged the ownership of existing property in Newfoundland and gave permission for settlements to exist in  Newfoundland as long as residents did not interfere with the English migratory fishery.

In 1622 France established a colony at Plaisance (Placentia). Plaisance served as a base for the French fishing fleet, kept an eye on English activity on the Avalon Peninsula and protected French shipping and fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, France gave up all claims to Newfoundland but retained fishing rights along the coast from Cape Bonavista north to Point Riche.

1754 led to the French and Indian war, where Great Britain fought for control of Canadian territory & the fur trade and conquered Quebec.

Great Britain and Iroquois Indians versus France and Huron Indians.

1763 Treaty of Paris

Gave British control of all lands east of the Mississippi River, British forced Nova Scotia’s French-speaking people to leave Nova Scotia’s French went to another French colony, Louisiana.

France maintained fishing rights in Newfoundland and in the territory of St. Pierre and Miquelon off the south coast of Newfoundland.

Newfoundland joins Canada

Newfoundland joins Canada


During the period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in Europe from 1793 to 1815, Newfoundland’s population increased from 11,382 persons in 1797 to a total of 40,568 in 1815.


Newfoundland recognized as an official British colony by Imperial legislation.


Captain William Whiteley invented the cod trap.


Newfoundland’s population was approximately 220,000 (4,000 of them in Labrador) living in 1,200 communities.

Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless radio signal, from Signal Hill in St. John’s to Cornwall, England.


France agreed to give up its fishing rights on the French Shore in return for overseas territorial concessions from Britain in Africa.


Newfoundland joins Canada and the first government of the Province sworn in with Joseph R. Smallwood as Premier on April 1.

See also

Read more about The North Atlantic Champion