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History

The Colony of Newfoundland
Newfoundland has a number of historical firsts. The first settlement anywhere in The Americas built by Europeans was located at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. It was founded circa 1000 A.D. by the Vikings. Remnants and artifacts of the occupation can still be seen at L'Anse aux Meadows, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was later inhabited by the Mi'kmaq and the Beothuks. Explorer John Cabot claimed Newfoundland as England's first overseas colony after landing at Bonavista in 1497.

From 1610 to 1728, Proprietary Governors were appointed to establish colonies on the island. John Guy was governor of the first colony, Cuper's Cove. Other colonies were Bristol's Hope, Renews, South Falkland and Avalon which became a province in 1623. The first governor given jurisdiction over all of Newfoundland was Sir David Kirke in 1638. The island of Newfoundland was nearly conquered by New France explorer Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville in the 1690s.

Newfoundland did not become part of Canada until 1949 when it joined confederation under the premier Joseph Smallwood. Until then was a separate dominion of the British Empire except for the small period of time it was its own nation refered to as the Republic of Newfoundland. There are still some in the province who wish to go back to being a separate nation.
Newfoundland received a colonial assembly in 1832 which was and still is referred to as the House of Assembly. This was after a long battle by such reformers as William Carson, Patrick Morris and John Kent. The new government was rather unstable and divided along sectarian lines. In 1842, the elected House of Assembly was amalgamated with the appointed Legislative Council. This was changed back in 1848 to two separtate chambers. It was after this that the movement for responsible government got under way.

The Dominion of Newfoundland

In 1854 Newfoundland was granted responsible government by the British government. In 1855, Philip Francis Little, a native of Prince Edward Island, won a majority over Sir Hugh Hoyles and the Conservatives. Little formed the first administration from 1855 to 1858. Newfoundland rejected confederation in the 1869 general election. It remained as a colony until acquiring dominion status in 1907 along with New Zealand. It attempted to reach a trade agreement with the United States but failed. The Dominion of Newfoundland reached its golden age under the premiership of Sir Robert Bond.

Newfoundland produced its own regiment to fight in the First World War. On July 1, 1916, most of that regiment was wiped out at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The war debt sustained because of the regiment led to increased borrowing in the post-war era. Political scandal was a severe problem in the 1920s. In 1923, Prime Minister Sir Richard Squires was arrested on charges of corruption. He was released soon after on bail, but the scandal was reviewed by the British-led Hollis Walker commission. Soon after, the Squires government fell. Squires returned to power in 1928 only to control a country that was drastically hurt by the Great Depression.

On April 5, 1932, a mob of 10,000 people marched on the Colonial building (Seat of the House of Assembly) and forced Squires to flee. Soon after there was an election and Squires lost again. The next government, led by Frederick C. Alderdice, called upon the British government to take direct control until Newfoundland could be self-sustaining.

In 1934 the Dominion gave up its self-governing status. In all but name it was a colony again. Government by commission until confederation in 1949.

The Province of Newfoundland (and Labrador)

In 1946 an election was held for a National Convention to decide the future of Newfoundland. After much debate, a referendum in July 1948 decided by a vote of 52 to 48 percent for confederation with Canada. Newfoundland joined Canada on March 31, 1949. In 1959, a local controversy arose when the provincial government pressured the Moravian Church to abandon its mission station at Hebron, Labrador, resulting in the relocation southward of the area's Inuit population, which had lived there since the mission was established in 1831. Politics would be dominated by the Liberal Party under Joseph R. Smallwood until 1972.

In 1972 the Smallwood government was finally replaced by the Tory administration of Frank Moores. In 1979 Brian Peckford became Premier. During this time Newfoundland was involved in a serious battle with the federal government for control of offshore oil resources. In the end, the dispute was decided by compromise. In 1989, Clyde Wells and the Liberal Party came to power ending seventeen years of Conservative rule.

During the 1990s Newfoundland faced a severe environmental and economic crisis. The cod fisheries that had provided Newfoundlanders with a livelihood for over 200 years had become depleted. The federal government helped with a billion-dollar package to rescue Newfoundland.

In 1996 former federal politican Brian Tobin came to power. His main goal was to get a good deal out of the recently discovered nickel deposits in Labrador. He resigned and went back to federal politics in 2000. The Liberal Party then found itself in a difficult situation. Internal battling and dispute left the new premier, Roger Grimes, in a weakened position.

Newfoundland was recently involved in a legal dispute with Nova Scotia over the offshore boundary, which was settled in 2003, largely in Newfoundland's favour.

In 2003, the federal government declared a complete moratorium on the cod fishery, owing to severely imperilled stocks of the fish. This caused tempers to flare in all of Atlantic Canada, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Grimes called for a review of the Act of Union by which the province had become a part of Canada.

On July 2, 2003, the findings of the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada were released. It noted the following stressors in the relationship between the province and Canada:

The huge impact of the destruction of the cod stocks.
Hydroelectricity resources in Labrador have primarily benefitted Quebec.
Chronically high unemployment.
Lowest per-capita income in Canada.
The highest tax rates.
The worst out-migration.

The report called for:
more collaborative federalism;
an action team to deal with the fishery;
collaboration between Canada, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador on the development of the Gull Island hydro site; revision of the Atlantic Accord so that offshore oil and gas reserves primarily benefit the province; immediate and realistic negotiations on joint management of the fishery.

In October 2003, the Liberals lost the provincial election to the Progressive Conservative Party, led by business leader Danny Williams.



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