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Some of the Many Newfoundland and Labrador Notable Facts

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January 14th, 2016

Time Zone

We are the only island in North America to have its own specific time zone. The Newfoundland Time Zone exists only in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the entire province is in the Newfoundland Time Zone by legislation. In practice, however, Newfoundland Time is observed only on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, in its offshore islands, and southeastern Labrador communities south of Black Tickle. The rest of Labrador, from Cartwright north and west, observes the Atlantic Time Zone along with the rest of Atlantic Canada. Newfoundland is therefore one half hour ahead of this time zone.

This time zone exists because of the location of the island and the fact that it was a separate dominion when the time zones were established. The island of Newfoundland lies squarely in the eastern half of the Atlantic Time Zone, exactly three and a half hours from Greenwich. Since it was separate from Canada at the time, it had the right to adopt its own time zone. While the entire province lies west of the standard meridian for a half-hour time zone, 52.5 degrees west longitude, this is also the near exact meridian of its capitol city St. John’s. In 1963, the Newfoundland government attempted to bring the province into conformity with the other Atlantic Provinces, but withdrew in the face of stiff public opposition.

Airports, Airfields, Naval Stations and Bases

During the 1940’s and 1950’s Gander International airport was the busiest airport in the world. Gander and Goose Bay, Labrador was the last stops for fuel for all transatlantic flights originating from the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.A.

On October 15, 1940 ground was broken at the preferred site for a military installation along the north side of Quidi Vidi Lake in the northeast part of St. John’s. It was named Fort Pepperell. It became a US military base with its main objective deemed to be primarily an air-defense role.

The Ernest Harmon airbase constructed near Stephenville on the South coast of Newfoundland was built in 1941 and was used until 1966 by the U.S. military. It was then turned over to the Newfoundland government and the site is now known as Stephenville International Airport. Many of the sites buildings and structures that supported the base now form parts of the town of Stephenville.

On August 28, 1941 Naval Air Station Argentia known as Bristol Field was commissioned. NAS Argentia was built on the plateau atop the triangular peninsula adjacent to Naval Station Argentia's anchorage and shore facilities. The three runway airfield and station was used to base convoy protection, coastal patrol and anti-submarine aircraft, both land-based aircraft and seaplanes operated from there. It ceased operation in 1994. At its peak 20,000 US servicemen were stationed there at what was known as Fort McAndrew.d would help win the Battle of the Atlantic and in stopping the Axis power.  

 In 1944, Argentia served as one of the two stopover bases for the refueling, maintenance, and crew changes of the six United States Navy (USN) K-class blimps that made the first transatlantic crossings of non-rigid airships.

 The US Argentia Naval Station located in Little Placentia Sound within Placentia Bay on the Avalon Peninsula was first occupied on January 25, 1941.

War Contribution

A total of 8,707 Newfoundland men enlisted in the dominion's three services - the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, and the Newfoundland Forestry Corps at the start of the First World War.  Another 3,296 joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). These 11,988 men represented nearly 10 per cent of the dominion's total male population, or 35.6 per cent of all men of military age (between 19 and 35 years old). Smaller numbers also served in a variety of other forces, such as the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force.

The Newfoundland Regiment distinguished itself on battlefields at Gallipoli, Beaumont Hamel (where it suffered traumatic, heavy losses on July 1, 1916), Gueudecourt, Monchy le Preux, Cambrai, and elsewhere. Its brave actions earned it the title of "Royal" in December 1917 - an honor that no other British Regiment won during the First World War.

The seamen of Newfoundland had long been known in the Navy as being highly efficient and resourceful, but by the end of World War One their skills as coxmen left them with a greatly enhanced reputation. When required they readily undertook almost impossible boarding operations in wild seas which other sailors would not face. Nothing but praise was accorded by the Fleet upon these sailors for their seamanship.

At least 505 sailors from Newfoundland and Labrador were part of the merchant marine and worked on commercial vessels shipping passengers and cargo to Allied ports. There were also about 175 women who served overseas as graduate nurses or with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) - a corps of semi-trained nurses.

On October 8, 1916, a U-boat torpedoed and sank the SS Stephano off the coast of Massachusetts. The Stephano was a well known Newfoundland steamer that had been carrying passengers from St. John's to New York. No one died in the attack and American destroyers rescued everyone on board.

During the War of 1812, at the naval Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, twenty eight percent of British casualties (39 men) were suffered by Newfoundlanders. 

The longest sniper kill shot in history was made by Corporal Robert Furlong from Fogo, Newfoundland in March 2002 during the war in Afghanistan. The distance was measured at 2,657 yards or 1.509 miles. The record stood until 2009. This became the longest sniper kill in history at the time, surpassing the previous record set by his teammate, Master-Corporal Arron Perry, by 120 m (130 yd).

 

Animal and Fish Facts

We have two world renowned breed of dogs named after us. The Newfoundland is a large working dog. Newfoundland dogs can be black, brown, white and black (called Landseer) or gray. However, in Canada, the country of their origin, the only correct colors are black (including black with white markings) or white and black (Landseer). They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland before we became part of Canada. They are known for their giant size, intelligence, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue because of their muscular build, thick double coat of fur, and innate swimming abilities. These dogs have webbed feet to aide in swimming.

The Labrador is also a breed that originated on the island of Newfoundland. Originally called the St. John's dog, after the capital city of Newfoundland, he was bred to help the local fishermen haul nets, fetch ropes, and retrieve fish that had escaped the nets — as well as to be a family pet. The sleek and easy-care Labrador coat has two layers: a short, thick, straight topcoat, and a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. The two-layer coat protects this dog from the cold and wet, which helps him in his role as an excellent retriever for bird hunters. The coat comes in three colors: chocolate, black, and yellow.

We also have a famous horse unique only to Newfoundland. The Newfoundland Pony is a breed of pony that originated on the island. The breed was an “all purpose” pony known for its strength, courage, intelligence, obedience, willingness and common sense. Newfoundland Ponies were hard workers and easy keepers. They were used by settlers as draft and multi-purpose ponies until the mid-20th century, when they were brought almost to extinction due to modernization hence they were no longer required for everyday use and thus many were slaughtered.

Moose are not native to Newfoundland, but today there are more than 100,000 on the island. A single pair of moose was introduced and released at Gander Bay in 1878 from Nova Scotia but were not thought to have survived. Two more pairs were introduced and released at Howley on May 14, 1904 from New Brunswick. All of the moose in Newfoundland today are descended from the 1904 moose and possibly also from the 1878 moose.

There are no skunks, porcupine, snakes, groundhogs or venomous spiders in Newfoundland. Squirrels, chipmunks, mink, red backed voles, bank voles, masked shrew, the house mouse and the deer mouse, Norway rat and snowshoe hare were all introduced. Coyotes became part of the Newfoundland animal kingdom in or around 1986 after crossing on ice from the mainland. Newfoundland now has wolves again that supposedly arrived here the same way the coyote did, however just when seems to be anybody’s guess. The once native Newfoundland wolf was thought to have been extinct since around 1930.

The inland waters of Newfoundland only have native Brook trout, Arctic char, Atlantic salmon, land locked Atlantic salmon locally called Ouanaiche, and the American eel. Labrador has many more species as it is not isolated as the island portion is. Smelt are also found in some inland waters during spawning season.

Geology

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to some of the oldest rocks in the world, and its unique geological landscapes attract scientists and geologists from across the globe. These ancient treasures provide an incredible chance to go back in time and interact with rocks that date back to billions of years ago.

Embedded in the planes of Mistaken Point, (located on the northeast coast of the Avalon Peninsula), tilted and cleaved mudstone and sandstone, exposed by the pounding of the Atlantic waves, are found fossils of the oldest creatures—in fact, the oldest complex life forms—found anywhere on Earth. Known to scientists as the Ediacara biota, they are creatures that lived 575 to 542 million years ago, when all life was in the sea.

Location and Icebergs

Contrary to much popular belief, Newfoundland is not a part of “northern” Canada. Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in terms of latitude, is just a little further south then Vancouver, British Columbia. Corner Brook is on the same latitude as Paris, France. St. Anthony, located on the northern tip of Newfoundland, is on the same latitude as London, England.

The northeast coast of Newfoundland is a great place to view icebergs during spring and early summer. Ninety percent of the icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland. The rest come from glaciers on islands in Canada's Arctic area. Of the estimated 40,000 icebergs that calve off of these glaciers each year only around 600 make it as far south as St. John’s, Newfoundland. It takes 2-3 years for an iceberg to reach the shores of Newfoundland.

Some of these icebergs are “harvested” each year and now Newfoundland has a line of liquor made from these icebergs and sold under the Iceberg brand. The aptly named Iceberg Vodka is the only vodka in the world made from icebergs, a source of water so pure that contaminants are undetectable, even in parts per quadrillion.  Every spring the company harvests tones of glacial ice gathered off Newfoundland’s east coast, from the region’s famous Iceberg Alley, and processes the bounty at their facility in St John’s.

The ice that makes up icebergs consists entirely of fresh water.

The glacial ice of icebergs may be more then 15,000 years old! Yes, you need to try some in a drink!

History

Around 1000AD the first European visitors to North America landed on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland in what is now called L’Anse aux Meadows, currently a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the only real Viking site in North America and the remains of their sod houses along with some of their tools and weapons can still be seen there.

In southeast Labrador the oldest known burial mount in North America, dating back some 7500 years, was constructed by the Maritime Archaic Indians.

The first clearly ascertained discovery of the Island of Newfoundland was made by a European named John Cabot in 1497. Cabot was an Italian navigator commissioned by Henry VII of England. His ship the Mathew was fitted by English enterprise and manned by English sailors thus the island fell under English rule.

From then on English, Icelandic, Scottish and Spanish ships fished the rich fishing grounds surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador where early reports stated that you could “step out of your boat and walk on the schools of Atlantic cod.”

When discovered in 1497 Newfoundland already had its own inhabitants, a breed of native Indian called the Beothuk. Due to disease contracted from contact with the “white man” and battles with them, they were eventually wiped out. The last known survivor was a woman named Shanawdithit. She died while living as a servant for a local businessman and judge named John Peyton of TB in 1829 at Twillingate.

Newfoundland became England’s oldest overseas colony when its immigrants arrived here between 1750 and 1850.

Labrador's area is over twice that of the island of Newfoundland, though it has only five percent of the province's population. The aboriginal peoples of Labrador include the Northern Inuit of Nunatsiavut, the Southern Inuit-Metis of Nunatukavut, and the Innu. The non-aboriginal population in Labrador did not permanently settle in Labrador until the natural resource developments of the 1940s and 1950s. Before the 1950s, very few non-aboriginal people lived in Labrador year round; those who dared were called settlers.

Fishing

In July of 1992 the once plentiful cod were nearly fished to extinction by local fishermen, legal and illegal foreign offshore draggers and the industry was shut down by the Federal government under what became known as the “cod moratorium”. Some 30,000 Newfoundland inshore fishermen and plant workers were put out of work; however the foreign draggers continued to fish and still do to this day. In 2015, nearly 25 years later, there is still only a very limited cod fishery in place for the inshore fishermen and locals can only catch a fish to eat for one month out of an entire year (three weeks in the summer and one in the fall). They are allowed five fish per day during that time period.

The longest river in Newfoundland is named the Exploits River and it stretches 246km in length. This is a world famous Atlantic salmon fly fishing river and has annual returns of between 35-40,000 fish. These fish enter its tidal waters between May and mid October and head upstream to spawn.

Trivia

We are the first people on the land mass of North America to welcome in the New Year at Cape Spear, NL, North America’s most easterly point.

We have the oldest city (St. John’s) and the oldest street (Water Street) in North America.

Did you know that the famous female pilot Amelia Earhart left Harbour Grace, Newfoundland in May 1932 on board a single engine Lockheed Vega 5B to begin what would become the first unaccompanied continuous flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a woman. The flight took 15 hours to complete with her finally touching down in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

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