Newfoundland and Labrador Britain’s Oldest Colony – Canada’s Newest Province

Kingwell By Kingwell, 16th Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

When Newfoundland entered Confederation with Canada in 1949, conditions in the outports, as the coastal communities were called, have sometimes been described as like that found in many third world countries. Fresh fruit was almost unheard off, tuberculosis was rampant and a large percentage of the population was illiterate.

Newfoundland and Labrador Britain’s Oldest Colony – Canada’s Newest Province

Newfoundland and Labrador Britain’s Oldest Colony – Canada’s Newest Province
Chapter XIII
Please see Chapter XII

It must have been difficult for both levels of government to know where to begin in solving the problems that faced Newfoundland when it first joined Canada. The population was isolated and spread out along a coastline that was difficult to navigate, there were few roads in the province and the diet of those living in the outports consisted mainly of salt fish or salt pork or foods that had a long shelf life like flour, tea, and molasses. Vitamin rich foods such as fresh fruit and fresh meat were rare. Both Newfoundland and Labrador have poor soil and short growing seasons, meaning that most food has to be imported, increasing the cost. Although there were networks supplying food and other items to the population, fresh food could not be transported great distances without spoiling. The northern parts of the island and Labrador had even more difficulty because ice prevented the movement of ships during the winter months. By the spring, people would often be living mainly on flour, tea, and molasses.

Both Newfoundland and Labrador had very high rates of infectious disease until the 1950’s and one of the reasons for this was malnutrition. A diet low in important nutrients weakens the immune system and leaves people vulnerable to such diseases as tuberculosis.This was one of the reasons why TB rates in Newfoundland and in Labrador were so high in the 1940’s compared to Canada and Britain. Great progress was made after Confederation with Canada however, as more and more money was put into education - and into people’s pockets causing more nutritious foods to appear on grocery store shelves. On the mainland of the province more and more towns were getting electricity and refrigerators and freezers were becoming commonplace meaning that foods could be kept for longer periods of time. Those who lived on the hundreds of small islands however continued to live without the benefit of such modern conveniences.
At the outset it seems that Premier Smallwood wanted Newfoundlanders to get away from the fishery altogether. At one time he was supposed to have told fishermen to burn their boats promising that there would be two jobs for every man! He soon used up much of the fiscal surplus he had inherited from Commission of Government in a rash attempt to lure outside entrepreneurs to set up manufacturing enterprises in the province. According to Joey Newfoundland was to become a diversified manufacturing centre producing such things as rubber boots, leather shoes and chocolate bars but most of these enterprises could not even compete in the local marketplace, let alone in outside markets. Most failed but a few survived under new ownership. Luckily this was one time when the fishermen didn’t listen to Joey and leave the fishery for it would continue to be the mainstay of the province for many years to come.
Education gradually improved as well with new and bigger schools and better trained teachers. In 1949 Memorial College in St. John’s became Memorial University. In the late 1950,s the government began to realize that education as well as other services could be provided much better - and much cheaper, if people could be persuaded to leave the small isolated islands and move to the mainland part of the island. The 1960’s saw the Provincial Government’s resettlement program move almost 30,000 people from hundreds of small islands and 300 communities were abandoned. Although the majority agreed to leave, there were thousands who felt that they had no choice in the matter and never forgave the government.
By 1969 Smallwood was facing problems. Not only had the resettlement program, which was poorly organized from the beginning, made him many enemies, but also the megaprojects which had promised employment for hundreds had failed to materialize. Joey was getting desperate and tried to revitalize the party by bringing well educated, and successful young men into his Cabinet. Joey himself however, refused to give up the reins and because of this many young people moved to the Progressive Conservative party who were finally losing the anti-confederate stigma and for the first time had a credible chance of forming a government. In May of 1971 Frank Moores, a popular young man who had been elected as an MP to the House of Commons in Ottawa, returned to the province and was elected leader of the provincial PC party.
On the 18th Of January 1972, Moores was sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador’s second premier.
The "Joey" era had finally ended.

Tags

Britain, Canada, Canadian Parliament, Frank Moores, Kingwell, Memorial University, Newfoundland And Labrador, Progressive Conservative Party, Resettlement, Tuberculosis

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author avatar Kingwell
I am 75 years old and retired.I like writing short stories, poetry as well other articles of interest.

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Comments

author avatar Rania, Jamie & Reni
16th Apr 2013 (#)

Mr. Kingwell,

Greetings. I see you have written rather in-depth articles about Newfoundland.

I have come to tell you, that you along with your accumulated knowledge have made it into Captain James Galiac's writ entitled:

"Captain James Galiac: Calamity Strikes At Home"

Have a good day.

Uthrania Seila

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Uthrania. I will check it out.

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author avatar C.D. Moore
17th Apr 2013 (#)

Well written and interesting history.

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author avatar Kingwell
17th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you C.D.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Apr 2013 (#)

So nice to know how we have come thus far. It hasn't been an easy ride anywhere. Thanks Kingwell - siva

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author avatar Kingwell
17th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you for your continued support. There will probably be just one more chapter in the series. I hope however to continue with some stories that are unique to Newfoundland and Labrador.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
18th Apr 2013 (#)

I have found this series very enjoyable, I will be sorry to see only one more post as I know there is so much more you have to tell...thank you Kingwell..

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author avatar Kingwell
18th Apr 2013 (#)

Hi C.D., You have been very loyal here. I'm sure I could have written more about the early days but I think it will come through in some of the stories that I plan to write. Thank you so much for reading.

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author avatar madugundurukmini
19th Apr 2013 (#)

great history

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you friend.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Quite informative, and nice to learn about another country around and far away-

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Hi Md, I love to learn about new places and make friends with those who live in different cultures. Technology allows to do so much today and the world is so much smaller. Thank for reading and commenting.

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author avatar Terry Trainor
19th Apr 2013 (#)

A few years ago my wife and I were on a plane to Boston. There were some problems with the plane and we had to make an emergency landing at New Found Land Airport. It was a scarey landing for such a huge plane at a little runway.

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Hi Terry, Do you know the name of the town where the plane landed? There are now major airports in St. John's and Gander, but there are still some small runways. Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Terry Trainor
19th Apr 2013 (#)

We had to circle a big bay many times to dump the fuel. Then we made a landing and we had to stop on a sixpence. It took three hours to refuel the plane as the tankers were so small. We were not allowed off the plane because it was a military airport. When we left the engines screamed before the pilot released the brakes. The trip down the runway was so fast the nose lifted in seconds as the plane took off. When we were back in the air the pilot asked if we enjoyed it. He said he didn't as he had never been here before and had never done anything tike it.

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Apr 2013 (#)

I really don't know where it could have been but there were military bases at Stephenville on the island and at Goose Bay in Labrador.

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author avatar Terry Trainor
19th Apr 2013 (#)

It might have been it was on the coast.

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author avatar Ronald Jones
19th Apr 2013 (#)

I would love to go there.

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author avatar Kingwell
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Hi Ronald, Thank you for your comment. You should come here.

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author avatar Ronald Jones
19th Apr 2013 (#)

I would love to go there.

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author avatar Terry Trainor
20th Apr 2013 (#)

So would I

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author avatar Kingwell
20th Apr 2013 (#)

You are always welcome in Newfoundland and Labrador. Hope you can both visit sometime.

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

How the twists and turns continue Kingwell! Anyone with too much power can soon become overbearing and arrogant, and there will always be someone else waiting in the wigs to step into their shoes when they tumble from power..A gripping look back at history my friend, and a wonderful informative series of articles. \0/x

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author avatar Kingwell
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Songbird.

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