Newfoundland and Labrador

A fishing boat in the snow

Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. Newfoundland is an island; Labrador is an adjoining mainland coastal region which abuts Quebec. Newfoundland is fairly lightly populated, but Labrador is extremely sparsely populated. Both Newfoundland and Labrador are famous for their rugged scenery, cool wet maritime climate, and long history separate from Canada.


from northwest to southeast

Newfoundland and Labrador regions
The territory sharing a border with Quebec on the mainland of Canada. From the days of the Labrador fishery, trapping and whaling to Military bases of the Cold War era, Labrador has rich history and breathtaking landscapes. Modern Labrador has vast stores of natural resources including copper, nickel and iron ore; developed and undeveloped hydro-electric sites and undeveloped off-shore natural gas and oil.
Western Newfoundland
The nearly 700 km stretch from Port aux Basques in the south to St. Anthony in the north. Includes the Port au Port Peninsula, the Bay of Islands (with regional centre, Corner Brook), Gros Morne National Park, the Long Range Mountains, and the Northern Peninsula. Vikings to Acadians, the history and culture of Western Newfoundland is varied and diverse.
Central Newfoundland
Includes the Baie Verte Peninsula & Green Bay area, the numerous islands of the North Coast (including New World Island, Twillingate Island, Fogo Island and Change Islands), Grand Falls-Windsor, and the famous international airport at Gander.
Southern Newfoundland
Includes the South Coast (mostly accessible only by ferry), as well as the Burin Peninsula.
Eastern Newfoundland
the New Founde Land, from John Cabot's landing grounds in the Bonavista Peninsula to Cape Spear, North America's most easterly point near historic capital St. John's.

Towns and Cities


There are many extraordinary things about Newfoundland: the rugged natural beauty of the place, the extraordinary friendliness and humour of the local people, the traditional culture, and the unique dialect.

Newfoundland was the home of the now-extinct Beothuk indigenous people, while Labrador is still home to the forest-dwelling Innu and the barren-dwelling Inuit, who are not related. Newfoundland was first discovered by Europeans in about 1000AD by the Vikings, but they did not last. In 1497 Italian explorer John Cabot may have discovered Newfoundland, and claimed it for England. Both Newfoundland and Labrador soon became popular places for European fishermen and whalers exploiting the Atlantic coast to come ashore for supply and rest. Newfoundland was the first overseas outpost of the British Empire: Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed in St John's in August 1583, and formally took possession of the island for the British, who were slow to populate the island, however. The small French presence on the island was mostly eliminated by 1760. During the 19th century, Newfoundland received an influx of Irish settlers, adding another layer to the present-day character of the island in terms of its unique regional accents and musical traditions. Newfoundland chose not to join the Canadian Confederation in 1867, and became a self-governing colony, and by 1907 a Dominion, legally equivalent to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Newfoundland was devastated by huge losses of young men during the First World War and an economic crisis during the Great Depression, and voluntarily gave up its independence to Britain in 1934 in exchange for a debt bailout. This situation ended in 1949 when Newfoundlanders and Labradorians narrowly voted in a referendum to join Canada as the tenth province. Newfoundland experienced another economic crisis in the later twentieth century. Stocks of the all-important cod fish collapsed and the Canadian government declared a moratorium on fishing for that species in 1992, ending the province's largest and oldest industry overnight. Likewise the seal hunt, another major industry, has been under threat due to anti-fur boycotts in Europe and elsewhere. Newfoundlanders have been emigrating to mainland Canada in large numbers for generations. But offshore oil and gas drilling, inland mining and hydroelectricity, and tourism have recently taken on a greater role in the economy, making Newfoundland and Labrador a net payer into the Canadian interprovincial transfer system for the first time ever in 2008.

The beauty of Newfoundland can be found on the rocky coasts of the island and the relatively new, and stunningly beautiful East Coast Trail, but this is a truly coast-to-coast kind of place. There's much to see in the Tundra of Labrador (often called "the Big Land"), the "mini-Rockies" of the West Coast's Long Range Mountains and Lewis Hills, the historic Avalon Peninsula, home to the capital of St. John's. Also don't underestimate the power of the largely uninhabited Newfoundland interior. There is a raw, untouched quality to the entire place, especially where water meets rocks. Adventure racer Mats Andersson has described it as a mix of "Patagonia, Sweden, New Zealand and other countries from all around the world."

As for the people, everyone talks to everyone; indeed, everyone helps everyone, and everyone knows everyone (people often can tell what part of the island someone is from by their last name).

Newfoundlanders are known for their distinctive manner of speech. Believe it or not, they speak dialects (that's right, not accents) that are sometimes unintelligible to "mainland" Canadians - especially in outports such as Burgeo. Its roots (while still North American English) are mainly Irish, English and French, and the language has evolved and developed in semi-isolation for about 500 years. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English is about the size of a standard English dictionary. It is immediately noticeable to most visitors, or "Come-From-Aways" as they are occasionally called, that the syntax and grammar varies slightly. As for the accent, it varies from district to district in the province. As Canadian author Douglas Coupland puts it in Souvenir of Canada, Newfoundlanders "speak in a dialect that can rival Navajo for indecipherability - that is, when they really ham it up..." .

Newfoundlanders pronounce Newfoundland to rhyme with 'understand,' placing emphasis on -LAND, not New or found-. It sounds something like "newfin-LAND." Canadians outside of the Atlantic provinces (therefore, not including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well as Newfoundland) and tourists are noted for their pronunciation of Newfoundland as "new-FOUND-lind", "NEW-fin-lind" or "NEW-found-lind."

Two "traditions" persist with a visit to Newfoundlandkissing the cod and the "screech-in." (Both were actually enacted by Ben Mulroney in the Canadian Idol television show while he visited Newfoundland, demonstrating how widespread these activities are thought to be). These "traditions" are little more than tourist activities originally invented by locals for a laugh. The tourists found them enjoyable, and now they are becoming extremely common. Commercial tours will often include these activities, concluding them with a certificate proclaiming the participant an honorary Newfoundlander.

Genuine traditions practised in Newfoundland include celebrations of: "Bonfire Night", with roots in the English "Guy Fawkes Night"; and "Old Christmas Day" which is the twelfth night of the Christmas season. The latter of these is also associated with the tradition of "Mummering" or "Janneying" which is still practiced in several other parts of the world as well.

The "Newfie" (also "Newf") stereotype: in Canada, this figure is similar to the Hillbilly stereotype or the rural Hick stereotype. As with both of those cases, it is rooted in discrimination. While some Newfoundlanders may call themselves "Newfies", it may be wise to refrain from calling the province's residents as such yourself, as many see this as a slur or putdown when it comes from a non-native. Not unlike "Canuck", originally a slur against Canadians, the word "Newfie" is acceptable to some, but err on the side of caution and use Newfoundlander instead.

And finally, don't say you're in Canada when visiting Newfoundland. While there are no independence movements like in Quebec, the relationship between the island and the rest of the country can be controversial. Newfoundland is part of Canada, but referring to Newfoundlanders as Canadians will cause annoyance and people may think you want to start an argument. Criticism or jokes about the culture of Newfoundland could give you icy responses.

Get in

Gros Morne National Park

By plane

Flights from major centres in Newark, Ontario, Quebec and the other Atlantic Provinces arrive at St. John's airport several times per day.

Flights to Stephenville from Toronto are available during the summer months and allow easy travel to the nearby city of Corner Brook. Stephenville also has daily service within the province.

Flights to Deer Lake from mainland Canada allow easy access to Corner Brook. From Deer Lake, you will need to rent a car, or catch the bus or taxi to reach Corner Brook.

Daily flights to Wabush, Goose Bay Labrador and to Gander are also available.

In the summer season, there are daily flights between St. John's and London Heathrow on Air Canada, and to Dublin on WestJet, probably the shortest Trans-Atlantic regular flights available.

By car

The only road that leads to Newfoundland without using a ferry runs from Quebec into Labrador; north of Sept-Iles and Manicougan a long, isolated gravel road leads to Labrador City and Goose Bay.

If the island is your destination, you must take the ferry.

From Port aux Basques to Corner Brook, it's just over 200 km of driving, while the drive to St. John's is a trek of over 900 km. In the summer, a drive from Argentia to St. John's will take you through about 130 km of the province.

For a more adventurous route to the island portion of the province, you can travel through Quebec into Labrador as far as Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Be advised that the route from Labrador City to Goose-Bay is approximately 10 hours of gravel highway with the only town in between being Churchill Falls. In December 2009 the final section of the Trans Labrador Highway was opened between Goose Bay and Cartwright, allowing one to drive all the way to Blanc Sablon, Quebec and take the 2 hour ferry crossing to the island. From Goose Bay, there is also a 42 hr ferry direct to Lewisporte in central Newfoundland.

It is not possible to reach Blanc Sablon, Québec (the border town near Forteau, Labrador) on any direct overland path from Sept-Îles as the roads simply do not exist in that section of the province.

WARNING: As the province is home to a moose population of over 100,000, do drive slowly and cautiously, especially when driving at night. Moose are attracted to the roads due to the fresh young tree growth along the sides and the open stretches allow them to take a "fog bath". During calf season, moose can be especially aggressive, standing their ground and even challenging people and vehicles, but the most common risk is collision. Remember that hitting a moose is not like hitting a deer-most of its bulk is above the height of the average car's front hood. Your car will hit its legs, knocking the brunt of its weight (often over 500 kg, 1100 lb) into the windshield and you. This is the last thing you want to have happen to you, and it may well be the last thing that will happen to you! It is for this reason that moose are considered one of the most dangerous animals in North America.

Moose of any size are often aggressive on the roads and frequently attack the headlights of passing cars. Drivers who survive collisions have been killed by the legs of an injured moose wedged in the windshield opening of the wreckage. Animals who have moved out of a vehicle's path may suddenly reappear on the road and exhibit suicidal behaviour.

By bus

Interprovincial bus passengers must transfer from bus to ferry at North Sydney NS. On arrival to the island, one may board DRL Coachlines Ltd, which runs daily scheduled passenger coach services from Port Aux Basques to St. John's. DRL's head office is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (toll-free at +1-888-738-8091); there's also an office in St. John's. Another bus service from Port Aux Basques to St. John's is Newhook's Transportation at +1 709 726-4876.

By train

If Labrador is your destination, train is one option. A train on the Quebec, North Shore and Labrador line (Sept-Îles-Schefferville, Québec) makes one stop in Emeril, Labrador. This isolated line is not connected to the main North American rail network.

Within the island itself, train is no longer an option. The "Newfie Bullet", named for its incredibly slow speed, ended its long career in 1988, with the rails all pulled up and the railbed converted into the T'Railway Provincial Park, part of the TransCanada Trail.

By boat

Marine Atlantic ferry service runs from North Sydney to Port aux Basques (on the west coast of the island) throughout the year, and to Argentia (about 90km from St. John's) during the summer. The duration of the ride depends on the weather and water conditions, so patience is of the essence. It is advisable to call Marine Atlantic ahead of time to make a reservation (call +1-800-341-7981). If you are bringing a U-haul or something other than a passenger vehicle, you will likely be considered a Commercial Vehicle. Commercial Vehicles can only make reservations by doubling the usual fare. It is cheaper to simply take your number, wait in line and hope for the best.

In general, Marine Atlantic Ferries cater to your every whim, carrying food, alcohol, gift shops, cinemas and sleeping accommodations. There will be lots for you to do.

There is also a seasonal ferry available between St. Barbe on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula and Blanc Sablon, Quebec, right on the edge of the Labrador border (call +1-866-535-2567). In winter, the southern terminus of this ferry is Corner Brook.

The following is a list of all other ferry services available in Newfoundland and Labrador:

(The car ferry formerly at +1 709 832-0429 is no longer running. Only a passenger ferry remains available)

Get around

By car

If you have access to a car, rental or otherwise, this is often the best way to travel the province. Public transportation options are usually limited, especially away from the larger centres, and having a personal vehicle will allow you to reach the nooks and crannies that really make the Newfoundland & Labrador experience an amazing one. Except for the Trans-Canada Highway (Port Aux BasquesSt. John's), roads in Newfoundland & Labrador are among the worst in Canada, so watch out for potholes and heaved pavement.

If Labrador is your destination, bring an extra can of fuel, a survival kit, food and supplies. The Trans-Labrador Highway is the most challenging stretch of road in the province, and you will need to rely on your own ingenuity if you run into trouble hundreds of kilometres from the nearest settlement, with no mobile telephone coverage anywhere outside Labrador City, Churchill Falls and Goose Bay. Ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape and be prepared to wait several hours in sub-Arctic conditions for assistance in an emergency.

With the exception of the northern territories, fuel in rural Labrador is the most expensive in Canada.

By bus

By plane

If you wish to move about the province by plane, you can usually do so with a few different companies. Try Air Canada , Provincial Airlines and Air Labrador .

If you wish to visit a part of France, you may consider Air St-Pierre which connects St John's to the nearby islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon. Canadian citizens may enter with photo ID and proof of citizenship. US and EU citizens will require passports. Americans require their passports to enter France and Europeans require theirs to pass through Canada.


Pilots Hill in St John's




Rural Newfoundland is known for its seafood and its working-class roots. Rural restaurants offer an over-abundance of "golden foods" (deep fried) and classically simple fare. Vegetarians will be hard pressed to find anything without meat in it, and vegans might want to pack a lunch. But if you're a fish and chips lover, you'll "fill your boots". Mainly you will see battered cod, "chips dressing and gravy", dressing being a savory-laced stuffing mixture, fish-and-brewis (pronounced "fish and brews", salt cod mashed up with a boiled rock-hard sailor's bread, pork scrunchions, and traditionally drizzled with blackstrap molasses), jigg's dinner (also known as corned beef and cabbage, a traditional one pot meal consisting of salt beef,root vegetables such as carrot, turnip, parsnip and potato,and cabbage. Also thrown in the pot is a muslin bag of yellow split peas, known as pease pudding), burgers and fries, and seafood chowder.

But if you're nice, and lucky, someone might invite you in to their home for a homemade moose stew, rabbit pie, seal flipper, caribou sausage, partridgeberry pie or a cuppa tea with home-baked bread and homemade bakeapple jam. All of these are very interesting and delicious. A big traditional meal is often referred to as "a scoff", and as Newfoundlanders also love to dance and party, an expression for a dance and a feed is a "scoff and scuff", which might be accompanied by accordion, guitar, fiddle, a singalong, and a kitchen party. Kitchen socials are so much a part of Newfoundland culture that even today, many houses are better equipped to receive visitors through the back door (leading to the kitchen) than through the front.

Fish has always been at the heart of Newfoundland culture and even with the collapse of the commercial fisheries, you will find seafood dishes almost everywhere. Cod, halibut, flounder, crab, lobster, squid, mussels, and capelin (a small fish not unlike smelt or grunion) are all well represented. So too are other animals supported by the ocean system - seal, turr (murre) and the like.

A lot of Newfoundlanders habitually drink tea with evaporated or "canned" milk (a popular brand being Nestle Carnation milk). If you prefer "regular" milk, you usually ask for "tea with fresh milk" and this is, in fact, a good way to spot a Newfoundlander (or at least an Atlantic Province native) in other parts of the country. An easy excuse to have a friendly chat is to invite someone in for a "cuppa tea".

In "town" i.e. St. John's (and the other city centres of Newfoundland) there are many good restaurants for the picking, and several vegetarian and vegan friendly spots.

While in Newfoundland, particularly St. John's, do try to sample some of the candy and sweets from Purity Factories, an island fixture for many years and makers of several traditional-style confections. For many Newfoundlanders, Christmas would not be the same without a bottle of Purity Syrup, and breakfast without some of their partridgeberry and apple jam wouldn't be right. (Note: Partridgeberries in Newfoundland are referred to in many other places as "lingonberries".)


You will be in for a "time" (a social gathering) with lots of cheer. This is a province that consumes per capita more alcohol than any other in Canada. The legal drinking age in the province is 19. You will find nearly all the alcohol you desire in a Newfoundland bar. George Street in St. John's, Newfoundland has a reputation for having the most bars per capita in North America. Its largest celebration, George Street Festival, starts in early August and finishes on the Tuesday before Regatta Day.

Newfoundland & Labrador has a wonderful set of regional beers that you cannot find outside of the province. While a number of these are now brewed by the large Macrobreweries (Labatt and Molson), some of them are not. Depending on where you are, you will be able to locate brews with names like Kyle, Killick, Rasberry Wheat Ale, Hemp Ale, India, Black Horse, Jockey Club, Dominion Ale, Quidi Vidi 1892, and Blue Star. Something you may notice while drinking beer in the province is the tendency for the breweries to advertise that their beers are union-made "right here" in Newfoundland. Beer is commonly found in convenience stores with a liquor license and from the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation (NLC). The NLC is a government-owned monopoly and, much like most of Canada, there is a better selection of local and foreign beers than there are provincial beers. Inter-province trade in beer tends to be limited to the major brands, with no attention paid to the many excellent craft breweries in other regions.

While in Newfoundland, you will also encounter Screech. Screech, a Jamaican-style dark rum, is historically a result of trade between Newfoundland and Jamaica. Jamaica got the salt cod, Newfoundland got the rum. In all honesty, the Rum has been tamed to conform with contemporary liquor laws, especially compared to its much more potent ancestor. Hard liquor is usually found only at the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation in urban areas; local businesses (such as convenience stores) will be designated as "agency" locations to sell spirits (as a sideline) in small rural villages.

Newfoundland has a quiet but strong tradition of berry wines. Blueberry wine, for those in the know, is as closely associated with Newfoundland tastes as Screech, and for many, may be a far more palatable first experience. Also be sure to look for partridgeberry, blackberry, cloudberry, and rhubarb wines. All of these can often be found in NLC outlets. The NLC retains the distinction of being the only liquor control board in Canada which still directly manufactures and bottles several of its hard liquor products (Screech, notably, but also gin, brandy and two vodkas), to retain the strong provincial association.


Much of Newfoundland and Labrador is still very much off the beaten path; there are still many outports only reachable by sea using coastal ferries.

While Bell offers adequate UMTS (WCDMA) coverage of most of Newfoundland island (Trans-Canada Highway, Great Northern Peninsula and Burin Peninsula), as of 2014 cellular coverage of any kind does not exist on the Trans-Labrador outside Labrador City, Churchill Falls and Goose Bay.

There is little GSM coverage on Newfoundland and nothing in Labrador as Rogers (Canada's only remaining GSM carrier) covers just Corner Brook and a small fragment of Trans-Canada Highway across the Avalon Peninsula to St. John's.

Stay safe

The only dangers of which tourists should be mindful are related to nature and not to crime. Newfoundland is one of the safest parts of Canada and locals are very helpful to lost or confused tourists.

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