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Newfoundland and Labrador: Unique to Canada

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The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is a culturally and geographically unique place in Canada. A cruise to the island of Newfoundland will come upon deep blue waters surrounding rocky and green shores, cloaked in ethereal mists. The mainland of Labrador can be seen off in the distance with its glacier-carved mountains rising above the crashing North Atlantic waves. Herds of caribou and moose wander the landscape, and there is the occasional glimpse of a wolf or polar bear through the fog. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador will welcome you with folk music, hearty food, and a proud culture based on the ancient legacies of fishing and the fur trade.

Viking Discovery

The earliest records of human habitation in the Labrador/Newfoundland area date back to 6095 BC, to a burial site if an Indian boy at L’Anse Amour. Another site was found at Black Island Cove that dates back to 4045 BC. Those responsible for these sites are known as the Maritime Archaic people. Over time, they were overlapped and mingled with Paleo, Dorset, and Thule Eskimo peoples. A Labrador cruise may reveal the legacies of some of these ancient cultures.

Vikings are credited with being the first Europeans to make contact with this region of the continent. Possibly led by Lief Erickson, they established a settlement in 1000 AD at L’Anse aux Meadows.

The explorer John Cabot was the next European of influence to visit the region, and he claimed it for England in 1497. Fisherman from different European nations came to settle the area, and Jaques Cartier of France sailed through Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle in 1535. France also claimed the Newfoundland area, and the region came under heated contention.

Environmental Preservation in Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador maintain a variety of provincial parks, wilderness and ecological reserves, and heritage rivers. These protected areas were created for a variety of reasons: biodiversity, ecotourism, research, recreation, and education. The province’s spectacular span of geographic diversity is well-represented by these areas, and cruise to Newfoundland and Labrador is an excellent opportunity to experience them.

The province’s government is also working hard to protect its beautiful environment from pollution; there are several pollution prevention measurements in place and in practice, especially in the area’s prolific streams and other freshwater sources.

Newfoundland and Labrador are paying close attention to the potential effects of climate change on its landscape and people, from sea level rise and coastal zone erosion to health impacts on its people.

Cloaked in Mists

This Canadian province is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the territory of Labrador, which is connected to the northeastern tip of Canada.

Newfoundland is larger than Ireland, and separated from Labrador by 11 miles of ocean. Settlement on the island is generally confined to the coasts. The Long Range mountains characterize inland Newfoundland, and their rocky heights are scored by faulting and deep glaciation, and are cut into by blue bays and lines of fjords.

Other dramatic places that should be visited by a Newfoundland cruise are Conception and Trinity Bays, and the plateau that makes up the Avalon Peninsula. The ground of the island is crossed by three main rivers, called the Exploits, Humber, and Gander.

Labrador is famous for its mountain ranges, the most dramatic being the Torngats. Carved by ancient glaciers, they cradle hidden icy lakes in their rocky reaches. A cruise to Labrador may make a stop to see its main river, the Hamilton. It drops out of a plateau into a deep gorge that creates the Grand Falls and ends in the gorgeous Lake Hamilton.

Politics in Newfoundland

The region of Labrador and Newfoundland is a member of the Canadian Confederation, where the Queen of England is the head of state. The Crown is represented in Newfoundland by a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Canadian government. The House of Assembly constitutes the legislature. The Premier is appointed by the majority party in the House.

Labrador and Newfoundland together have seven representatives in the Canadian House of Commons, and seven seats in the Senate. One Newfoundlander is generally appointed to the Canadian Cabinet.

The Famous Unpredictable Weather of Newfoundland

Newfoundland weather is historically and famously unpredictable. Its affinity for quick changes led to the well-known weather lore that most sailors and fishermen still look to: “red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning”, brilliant Northern Lights mean a beautiful day followed by stormy weather, and trees with too many dogberries predict a tough winter. Travelers on a cruise to Labrador and Newfoundland will find one constant in that the consistent winds blow in from the west.

Given its longitudinal span, winter varies considerably throughout the region. Travelers who dislike cold weather should avoid northern and western Labrador, where the winter lasts six months from November to April. A more moderate option is southeast Labrador or the island of Newfoundland. Spring and summer are always welcomed and celebrated in this part of the world, even though they are generally cooler than most North Americans are used to, and an ethereal sea fog tends to meander along the coast year around. With the region’s volatility, the sun is always a beautiful sight and the sky is frequently a brilliant blue laid over with silver and white streaks of cloud.

Folkloric Traditions of Newfoundland

Part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture has been shaped by its isolated location on the tip of North America. Its historical legacy of fishing and the fur trade have also played a large role in shaping the region’s identity. The majority of the province’s people have British and Irish roots of which they are proud, and many traditions derive from those cultures. Aboriginal and French traditions are also filtered into life in the province.

The province has a long tradition of folk entertainment, a display of which may be part of a cruise to Newfoundland and Labrador. Some traditions from decades ago have been carried into modern times. “Mummering” (also known as jennying or jannying), is a popular tradition: a group of people disguised in ridiculous costumes visit local homes during Christmas. Kitchen parties are common, involving songs, stories and maybe a smattering of performances. A cruise to Newfoundland will probably feature the famous traditional music from the area, which is a genre of folk with Celtic undertones and modern rhythms.

Figgy Duff and Jigg's Dinner

Part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture has been shaped by its isolated location on the tip of North America. Its historical legacy of fishing and the fur trade have also played a large role in shaping the region’s identity. The majority of the province’s people have British and Irish roots of which they are proud, and many traditions derive from those cultures. Aboriginal and French traditions are also filtered into life in the province.

The province has a long tradition of folk entertainment, a display of which may be part of a cruise to Newfoundland and Labrador. Some traditions from decades ago have been carried into modern times. “Mummering” (also known as jennying or jannying), is a popular tradition: a group of people disguised in ridiculous costumes visit local homes during Christmas. Kitchen parties are common, involving songs, stories and maybe a smattering of performances. A cruise to Newfoundland will probably feature the famous traditional music from the area, which is a genre of folk with Celtic undertones and modern rhythms.

Modern History of Newfoundland and Labrador

In 1763, Labrador and Newfoundland officially came under English control through the Treaty of Paris. However, France retained some fishing rights along the coast, and eventually the entire western coast came to be known as the French Coast.

The fur trade exploded in Labrador and Newfoundland when the Hudson Bay Company established itself there. The fishing industry grew up alongside the fur trade, and immigration increased with these expansions, especially from Ireland. Labrador and Newfoundland became populous enough to introduce a parliamentary government in 1855. However, voters rejected a union with Canada in 1869.

France gave up their claim to the French Shore in 1904, and Newfoundland and Quebec began a prolonged possession dispute of Labrador. Newfoundland became a dominion (an autonomous community within Great Britain) in 1907. England confirmed Newfoundland’s claim on Labrador in 1927, enlarging the region significantly. Newfoundland finally joined the Canadian Confederation in 1949.

Wild Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador have their own sets of wildlife, although they do overlap in some cases. Visitors on a cruise to Newfoundland will find several mammals native to the area: the majestic caribou, the black bear, lynx, and red fox. Ermines, Newfoundland martens, otter, beavers, and the Arctic hare are some smaller species to keep an eye out for. Some animals were introduced to Newfoundland, such as the mink for fur-farming and the coyote through range expansion. Moose and bison were also introduced to the region.

A cruise to Labrador will also reveal caribou, lynx, otter, minks, and moose. But Labrador’s more northerly location will also provide the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a musk ox, polar bear, Arctic fox, wolf, wolverine, or snowshoe hare.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is working to save some wildlife at risk. Several species of birds are endangered, including the banded killfish and peregrine falcon. Polar bears are at risk, as well as woodland caribou and the wolverine. Legislation has been introduced, and management plans and recovery strategies are in effect to save many of these animals.

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