Presented by the
Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site
to assist you in researching your Family History

Click on the graphic below to return to the NGB Home Page
Newfoundland's Grand Banks

To contribute to this site, see above menu item "About".

How to report a possible transcription error

These transcriptions may contain human errors.
As always, confirm these, as you would any other source material.



INTRO     A - E     F - M     N - T     U - Z





A Geographical and Historical Data of Provinces and Cities
Location of Towns, Villages and Hamlets

NEWFOUNDLAND (or Terra Neuve) England's most ancient colony, is a large Island in the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, It is separated from Canada on the west and south-west by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the north-west by the Strait of Belle Island, distant but nine miles at its narrowest point from the shores of Labrador. Its south-west point approached Cape Breton, about a seven hour run for a steamer. It is bounded on the east and the south by the Atlantic. It lies in the highway of traffic between the old and the new world, and is nearer to Europe than any other part of America. St. John's, the capital and most eastern projection, is but 1,640 miles from Valentia in Ireland, and from its position could be made into the Gibraltar of the west, and an outlying fortress for Canada. Newfoundland forms an irregularly shaped triangle, deeply indented with numerous bays and harbors, and surrounded with innumerable islands, and has a coast line of about 2,000 miles. Its greatest width, between Cape Anguille and Cape Spear, is 317 miles; its greatest length, between Cape Ray and Cape Bauld, is about 316 miles; total area 42,200 square miles. The principle bays are; Conception, Trinity, Bonavista, Notre Dame, White and Hare, on the east and north-east coast; Bonne Bay, Bay of Islands, Port au Port, Bay St. George, on the west coast; Fortune, Placentia, St. Mary's and Trepassey Bays on the south coast. There are also numerous smaller bays and harbors, many of which are extensive commodious and well sheltered, with numerous rivers and rivulets running into them.

The opening up of the country by the inauguration of the Reid Newfoundland Co.'s railway system has been the chief factor in revealing the natural wealth of the interior hitherto unknown. The railway extends from St. John's to Port-aux-Basques, and continues from Placentia junction round the principle bays on the east to Exploits on the north, thence across the country, taking in Grand Lake and Deer Lake to Bay of Islands, on the west coast, then south taking in Bay St. George to Port-aux-Basques, the terminus, some 550 miles.

BRANCH RAILWAY LINES -- Branch lines extend to Harbor Grace, 83 miles; Placentia, 84 miles; and to Brigus, Lewisport, Broad Cove, etc. The Colonial Legislature contracted with the Reid-Nfld Company for the construction of the five branch lines of railway, connecting with the Trunk Line across the Island. The first of these, extending from Clarenville through the Bonavista Peninsula, was opened in 1911. The construction of the branches to Heart's Content, on the south side of Trinity Bay, and from St. John's to Trepassey, near Cape RAce, is under way. On their completion, the rails will be extended from Carbonear, on the north side of Conception Bay, to Grate's Point, the extremity of that peninsula: and branches are also to the built from the main line to the head of Fortune Bay and from Bear Lake to Bonne Bay. These will make up an increase mileage of about 300 miles and will bring virtually every section of the Island into direct communication with the trans-insular line through the agency of the railway system and the connecting steamers, besides opening up new areas to sportsman and tourist.

HOW TO REACH THE ISLAND -- Newfoundland and Labrador are no longer unknown lands. The traveler can reach Newfoundland from any point in Canada or the United States with ease and comfort. All railways, steamship and tourist agents issue tickets via the Reid-Newfoundland System. The Intercolonial Railway express trains connect at North Sydney, C. B., with the Reid-Newfoundland Co.'s fine steamers connecting at Port-aux-Basques (a daily service between North sydney and Port-aux-Basques will be inaugurated in 1912) with the railway which conveys the angler and deer stalker direct to the salmon river and caribou grounds. As a health resort this sea-girt isle affords a welcome escape from the burning heat of summer; its scenery is novel and attractive, and its bracing, exhilarating air imparts new vigor to the frame and sends back the smoke dried denizens of great cities with new life and energy. In the summer days the heat is never oppressive and the nights are always cool. There is something peculiarly balmy, soothing and yet invigorating in the summer breezes, whether on sea or land.

The Barrens of Newfoundland which occupy the interior on the summits of hills and ridges are covered with scrubby vegetation berry-bearing plants and dwarf bushes. These barrens are the home of the caribou, and lovers of the gun will find enough to satisfy them in the exciting sport of deer hunting.

The rivers are numerous, some of them attaining magnificent proportions. The largest are the Humber, Exploits, Gander, Terra Nova, Codroy, and St. George. The Humber, flowing into the Bay of Islands is about 80 miles long, and navigable about 15 miles for large vessels. The Exploits, about 200 miles long, and navigable about 30 miles, discharges itself into Exploit Bay, draining about 4000 square miles. It abounds with salmon and trout, and its banks are well wooded. The Gander, 100 miles long, discharges itself into Hamilton Sound. The Terra Nova is a large river flowing into Alexander and Bonavista Bays. The Codroy, on the west coast, flowing into the Gulf of St. lawrence, is a broad stream. Its banks and valleys furnish pasture land which is unequalled. The river St. George, on the west coast flows into a bay of the same name, and receives a smaller stream called Harry's Brook.

The lakes and ponds are said to cover a surface of nearly one-third of the Island. Grand Lake, 56 miles long, by 5 miles wide, with an area of 200 square miles, contains an island (Glover Island) in its southern end, 21 miles long by 2 broad, and is drained by the river Humber. Coal has been discovered in the vicinity. Red Island Lake, 37 miles by 3 miles, with an area of 69 square miles, drained by the Exploits. Gander Lake, which is 24 miles long, has an area of 44 square miles, and is drained by the river Gander. Deer Lake, about 15 miles long by 3 broad, is drained by the river Humber; on its banks are to be found large tracts of agricultural and timber lands.

Immense quantities of copper ore and iron pyrites have been shipped from Bett's Cove, Tilt Cove, Sutle Bay, and Pilley's Island, as well as iron ore from Bell Island. Lead, antimony, gold, iron, silver, nickel, and zinc are also found. Coal beds have been discovered in St. George's Bay and near Grand Lake. Granite, limestone, sandstone, marble, slate and brick clay are abundant. Asbestos is also found.

The principal trees are pine, spruce, birch, larch, willow, ash and fir, some of which attain to considerable size. Agriculture is carried on in several sections, especially in the river valleys and in the neighborhood of the lakes. Potatoes yield well and are of excellent quality. Green crops thrive in many places, and kitchen-garden produce can not be excelled in quality and flavor. Gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries are grown in large quantities.

The Newfoundland dog -- famous the world over, as also of Landseer fame -- is becoming very scarce, very few of the genuine breed now being found.

Among the wild animals may be enumerated the deer (caribou) wolf, bear (black and polar), fox (black, silver grey and red), beaver, otter, marten, wild cat, musk rat and arctic hare. Rabbits are numerous.

Land and sea birds are plentiful, the principal ones being the grepe pr sea eagle, hawks, owls, king-fisher, robin, sparrow, raven, ptarmigan (called partridge), plover, curlew, snipe, black duck, wild goose, gannet and loon (or great northern diver).

Seals are numerous, also whales, grampuses and porpoises. The cod of course abounds, no place being comparable to Newfoundland for this commodity. Herring, salmon, halibut, turbot, caplin, and squid -- the latter used for bait -- are in abundance. Lobsters are also abundant, the canned article constituting a very valuable export.

The famous banks of Newfoundland, viz.: the Grand Bank, Outer Bank, and St. Peter's Bank, swarm with codfish of all kind. They form the most extensive elevation existing in any ocean, and occupy 6 degrees longitude and nearly 10 degrees latitude, being 600 miles in length and 200 miles in breath, with a depth of water from 10 to 160 fathoms. The Labrador fishery is engaged during the months of June, July, August, September and part of October, many men are employed during this period. The seal fishery is next in importance, employing thousands of men.

The imports of Newfoundland consist of all articles used for food and clothing, as well as for domestic fishing purposed. The exports from Newfoundland and Labrador are: Dried codfish, herring, cod oil, seal oil, seal skins, pickled salmon, preserved salmon, and lobsters, copper, iron pyrites, lumber, etc.

The following are steamship connections:

Allan Line (Shea & Co.) Between St. John's and Glasgow, fortnightly, April to january, touching at Halifax and Philadelphia. Red Cross Line (Harvey   Co.) S. S. Stephano and S. S. Florzies between St. John's, Halifax and New York fortnightly. Black Diamond Lines (Harvey & Co.) S. S. Bonavista and Rosalind between Montreal and St. John's. via Charlottetown, P.E.I. and Sydney, Cape Breton, fortnightly.

The Coastal Royal Mail Steamers. Fortnightly north and west connecting with several bay steamers and the Labrador steamer. Reid-Newfoundland Co.'s steamers encircle the Island, including Labrador.

The public affairs of the island are administered by a Governor and Executive Council of seven members, a Legislative Council of 14 members and a Legislative Assembly of 36 representatives. The Judicial Department comprises a Supreme Court with a chief and its assistant judges, a Vice Admiralty Court and district courts also circuit courts.

The public school system is based on the denominational principle, the grant from the general revenues for educational purposed being appropriated to the schools of different denominations, according to population. This system seems to be objectionable in the smaller places where sometime three schools will be found among a few hundred people, none of which has the means of providing a competent teacher. Higher education is provided for through colleges supported from the general education grant, and by tuition fees and conducted denominationally. Bishop Field and Bishop Spencer Colleges (Episcopalian); St. Bonaventure College (Roman Catholic) besides Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army Colleges. St. John's is an examining centre for degrees of the London University.

The inhabitants of Newfoundland are principally descendents of the settlers of England, Ireland , and Scotland. The aboriginal inhabitants, known as Beothicks, have been extinct for many years. There are still a few Micmacs in the Island.

Newfoundland is supposed to have been discovered by Norsemen in the year A. D. 1000. It was re-discovered Sir John Cabot and his son Sebastian, on the 29th of June 1497. A settlement was subsequently formed by some Portuguese adventurers, who were expelled by Sir Francis Drake, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. After this period numerous English colonies were established from time to time along the eastern coast and several French along the southern in the Bay of Placentia. For a series of years the colony existed merely as a fishing settlement, and was much disturbed by the French until in 1713, it was declared by the Treaty of Utrecht in belonging wholly to Great Britain, the French reserving the right to fish on certain parts of the coast; the rocky straits of St. pierre and Miquelon being also assigned to them on conditions that they should not be used for military purposed. The first Governor of the Island, Captain Osborne, was appointed in 1729, and the first legislative assembly met on January 1st, 1832.

Newfoundland has telegraphic communication with the old world by means of submarine cables connecting between heart's content in Trinity Bay, (100 miles from St. John's) and Valentia in Ireland, about 1640 miles; also with the new world by means of submarine cable from Heart's Content to North Sydney, almost 360 miles, where connection is made with the Western Union system.

In 1876 the Labrador, extending from Cape Chidley (Hudson's Strait) to Blanc Sablon (Strait of Belle Isle), including Hamilton Basin, was included in the colony of Newfoundland. Area about 12,000 square miles. Population somewhere over 4000. Chief town Battle Harbor. The population of Newfoundland, including the Labrador, was shown by the 1903 census to be 220,984. The present population (1911) is estimated at 250,000.



Transcribed by Don Tate (April 2004)

Page Last Modified: Tuesday March 26, 2013
Recent Updates Contact Us

Search through the whole site
Hosted by
Chebucto Community Net

Your Community, Online!
JavaScript DHTML Menu Powered by Milonic
Newfoundland's Grand Banks is a non-profit endeavor.
No part of this project may be reproduced in any form for any purpose other than personal use.

© Newfoundland's Grand Banks (1999-2016)