Newfoundland

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Newfoundland was probably ‘discovered’ by John Cabot in 1497. Europeans soon exploited its cod fishery. Although Newfoundland was claimed for England in 1583 by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, sovereignty was disputed until 1713, and France retained rights of access to the coasts until 1904. Settlement was discouraged by the harsh environment and by British governments, which regarded the fishery as a source of personnel for the navy. Population reached 50,000 in the 1820s, drawn from the west of England and southern Ireland, the mix creating a rich culture, distinctive speech, and sectarian division. The last native Beothuk died in 1829. An assembly was introduced in 1832 and self-government in 1855. Newfoundlanders rejected union with Canada in 1869. The economy depended on fishing and most Newfoundlanders were poor. Facing bankruptcy, Newfoundland agreed in 1934 to rule by a commission of government appointed by Britain. Military bases in the Second World War brought prosperity and in 1948 Newfoundlanders voted by 52 to 48 per cent to become Canada's tenth province, formally joining in 1949. While population had almost doubled to 586,000 by 1986, Newfoundland relied on Canadian subsidies to survive. In 1992, even survival seemed threatened when international plundering of cod stocks forced the closure of the fishery.

Ged Martin

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Newfoundland Rescue and working dog originally bred by fisherman in Newfoundland. It has a massive head with a square, short muzzle and small, triangular ears set close to the head. The full-chested, broad-backed body is set on short, strong legs and the tail is broad and long. Height: 71cm (28in) at the shoulder; weight: 68kg (150lb).

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Newfoundland, island and province, Canada: see Newfoundland and Labrador, province.