8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Newfoundland

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Flag of Newfoundland and LabradorAfter a surprisingly pleasant 5 hour ferry ride from North Sydney, Nova Scotia I have arrived on the shores of Newfoundland. It is an interesting place with an interesting history. Here are some facts about Newfoundland you might not know:

1) Newfoundland used to be an independent country. In 1907, Newfoundland was given dominion status by the UK along with New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It remained on an equal status until 1949 when it joined the Canadian confederation.

2) Almost everyone pronounces Newfoundland wrong. On the ferry over we were told by a native Newfie how to pronounce the word. You can know the correct pronunciation by knowing the following simple rhyme: understand Newfoundland. The “land” part is pronounced like “land” not “lund”.

3) It used to be the location of the world’s busiest airport. Back in the day, most airplanes couldn’t make a transatlantic flight from New York to London without refueling. It was the closest bit of North America to Europe, so it is where most planes stopped. Gander International Airport is located almost exactly on the great circle route from New York to London, which is why it was the busiest in the world in the 1950’s. Its airport code, YQX, would make a great Scrabble word if they let you use airport codes.

4) It is officially called Newfoundland and Labrador. Formerly known as just “Newfoundland” as a colony, dominion, and province, in 2001 they officially changed the name to Newfoundland and Labrador to reflect the larger chunk of land on the continental mainland. They had to amend the Canadian constitution to do this.

5) They have their own time zone. Being in your own time zone isn’t that big of a deal, but the time zone on the island is one of the rare time zones which is a 30 minute time zone. It is 30 min ahead of Atlantic time and 90 minutes ahead of eastern time.

6) 94% of the population lives on the island of Newfoundland. Even though Labrador has twice the area and is on the mainland, almost everyone lives on Newfoundland island. In fact, almost half the population of the entire province is in the capital of St. John’s.

7) The first known European presence in North America was here. Yep, Christoper Columbus wasn’t the first European in North America. That honor belongs to the Vikings. L’ase aux Meadows at the very northern tip of the island was the location of a Viking colony. It was discovered in 1960 and it is believed that the settlement was founded around the year 1,000.

8) The only known case of German‘s landing in North America during WWII was in Newfoundland. On October 22, 1943, German submarine U-537 landed on Martin Bay in the north of Labrador and set up a remote weather station. It was forgotten and wasn’t visited again until 1981.

20 thoughts on “8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Newfoundland”

  1. “Did you know that Bill Cosby was stationed at the U.S. military base in Argentia, about 120 kilometres from St. John’s, N.L., as an American military corpsman in 1959?

    • how is newfoundland climatewise. is memorial university a recognised one and the distance from ottawa to newfoundland.

  2. The cajuns believe that crawdads came to be when the lobsters from Newfoundland swam south to Lousiana. Always found that funny.

  3. YQX – wow, that would be a lethal scrabble word. I’m almost positive one of these 8 facts is going to come up at a round of pub trivia. Thanks for the info !! Take care, Phil

  4. Ah…Newfoundland. How I miss it. I spent 20 years of my childhood there. I now live in the United States. Hopefully, I’ll get back to God’s country soon.

  5. Ah, Newfoundland. So glad you made it over there. I will actually be flying into Gander airport for the first time this fall, which I think is way better than flying into St. John’s or Deer Lake, just because it’s a bit random. :)

  6. Oh man, every time someone writes something about Newfoundland, I die a little with happiness. And yes, I can gladly assist in kissing the cod.

  7. I love it there, did a bounch of touristy stuff for an AGM we had there in my “old life”. George Street is a blast, kiss the cod Gary, kiss the cod!!! I bet you could get Candace to assist, gladly ;).

  8. I don’t know how the residents like it, but those 30 minute timezones seems like a pain to keep track of. They much like or they’d change it I suppose.

    • Well being an islander myself, you get used to the time difference and it is easier to deal with. It really only comes into play when travelling to the mainland or communicating with people not on the island. But if you Aretha communicating outside Newfoundland it really isn’t a pain, and it’s amusing that we have our own time zone. Feels special in a way :D

  9. My mother Helen Fox’s first husband Walter Schoefer and his construction team built that airport used in the 50’s to refuel
    And Walter Schoefer live there presently with his current wife Ida, in Newfoundland

  10. During the Olympics NBC aired a piece about Ganders Airport on 9/11 as Mary mentioned. If the people near Ganders are half as wonderful as they were shown in that piece, they may just be the most wonderful people in the world.

  11. Hey,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I meant to comment back when you announced your trip to Canada, but it slipped my mind.

    I’m an Ottawa native, and while there’s not a *ton* to see here, I have some recommendations for restaurants and that kind of thing. Figure the museums, Parliament, et cetera are pretty obvious!

    Brunch at the Manx pub on Elgin Sreet. Probably the best brunch in Ottawa, in a really cozy underground pub. Their dinners are also pretty amazing… not typical pub fare.

    The Works, various locations. The one in Westboro is nice. Deluxe burgers in an insane variety of combinations. You can choose your meat (or portobello mushroom if you’re vegetarian) and the toppings are crazy. There’s one with peanut butter on it…

    Similarly, Zazazas in Beechwood. Owned by the same guy as the Works, he’s trying out his idea with pizza. Really tiny little place at the moment, but amazing pizzas… we had one with egg and bacon on it, another with kraft dinner and hot dogs.

    Roaring debate over here about where to get the best poutine in Ottawa.

    Pub Italia in Little Italy is Ireland meets Italy and it’s a nice little place. Good beer selection.

    This place is also interest, Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, but it’s expensive!

    Don’t know when exactly you’ll be here, but the Lac Leamy Sound of Light fireworks competition is going on until August 21. I took in the first night, awesome.

    Anyways, hopefully you can check a few of those out! Unfortunately I’m headed out west in about a week to do my own travelling, so I won’t be around.

    But if you have any questions, give me a shout!



  12. Gander became a temporary home to MANY international flights bound for the US when domestic airspace was shut down on 9/11. The wonderful Newfie residents took such good care of all the stranded passengers for multiple days. Please let them know we Americans thank them.

  13. You’ll have to tell me if you see the same people multiple times as you travel through Newfoundland. I remember driving that main highway and seeing the same people at several different places (some many miles apart) throughout the week…because there is really only one main road through the province :)
    Seeing the flag reminds me of another thing…I have a small Newfie flag sticker on my car’s back window. I figured the car made it all the way out there, so I got it its own little badge of honor. A couple years later, we were driving through mid-Michigan and a woman honked to talk to us at a red light–turned out she was a Newfie living in Midland, Michigan, and got all excited when she spotted our sticker!
    Still have the car…and the sticker…five years later :)

  14. Super fun, love trivia. I don’t know much about Canada at all, so this was an educational post. Plan on doing any more of these?

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