1949: you know the story. But what about some other defining dates in our storied history?
The Island Gets Populated!
The first recorded inhabitants of our province were of the Maritime Archaic tradition, a native culture that flourished in the Maritimes as far back as 7500 BC. They moved into Labrador from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and by 3000 BC, made their way to the island of Newfoundland, beating out the arrival of other indigenous cultures, like the Beothuk.
England Boldly Claims the Island As Its Own!
In August of 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed in St. John’s, with letters from Queen Elizabeth I that authorized him to “take possession of Newfoundland.” (No one asked the resident indigenous about this business of course, and, other countries like France and Spain would continue to send ships over to fish.)
The First European Settlement!
Prior to this date, Europeans came over to fish and loot during our brief summer, but dared not settle on the untamed rock until 1610, when John Guy established what is deemed the first official colony in Newfoundland (this is contested). This was in the town of Cupids on the Avalon.
The French War for Control of the Island!
By now, Placentia was a real French settlement in Newfoundland. In 1696, a French military force led by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, from Placentia, captured St. John’s and other English settlements on the Avalon Peninsula during the winter. And briefly commanded them.
The French Get St. Pierre As a Consolation Prize!
In the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, France acknowledged British ownership of the island … until the “Seven Years War” from 1756–63, when control of Newfoundland became a major source of conflict between Britain, France and Spain. The “Battle of Signal Hill” was the end of that, and Britain retained its rule. (Despite a successful raid in 1796). France came out of those battles with its existing claims to St. Pierre & Miquelon.
N Becomes NL!
Labrador was given to Newfoundland, “stolen” from Quebec, as far as Quebec was concerned. This would be a political issues for decades to come.
Colonization Claims “The Last Beothuk!”
The Beothuks, who never numbered more than 1000, lived a quiet life as hunters and gatherers prior to the European colonization of the island. As Europeans settled the island and exploited its fishery, the Beothuk continuously retreated from the areas they traditionally lived an ate, and European settlers increasingly denied the Beothuk access to resources and spaces they were accustomed to, driving them inland, where they subsisted on caribou (moose were not yet introduced to the island). As a result of Erupean settlement interfering with their traditional foodways, the Beothuk decimated caribou stocks, their last real source of food. The eventual emergence of Newfoundland trappers going inland for the fur trade further reduced the Beothuk’s ability to hunt for sustenance, and led to clashes of the cultures. Europeans also had infectious diseases the Beothuk had no immune defence against, namely Small Pox and TB. Shanawdithit, known as “the last Beothuk” in our province, died of TB in 1829.
Canada Comes Knocking!
For not the first time, Newfoundland said no to joining Canada (and yes to remaining a British Colony).
Moose Introduced to the Island!
Yes, it’s true: like the English, French, and Irish, moose are not native to the island, and were only introduce in 1878 as something to eat.
Memorial University College (MUC) opened to offer Newfoundlanders their first two years of university training in the arts and sciences. It has since grown into the largest university in Atlantic Canada.
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