Newfoundland is an island in the west of Canada and together with Labrador it forms the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The island is separated from the Labrador Peninsula by the Strait of Belle Isle and from Cape Breton Island by the Cabot Strait. It blocks the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, creating the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. Newfoundland's nearest neighbour is the French overseas community of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
Newfoundland is an island that sits in the Saint Lawrence Gulf, 110 kilometres from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and 18 kilometres across the Strait of Belle Isle from the mainland part of the province, Labrador. With an area of 108,860 square kilometres, Newfoundland is the world's 16th-largest island, and Canada's fourth-largest island. The provincial capital, St. John's, is located on the southeastern coast of the island; Cape Spear, just south of the capital, is the easternmost point of North America, excluding Greenland. It is common to consider all directly neighbouring islands such as New World, Twillingate, Fogo and Bell Island to be 'part of Newfoundland' (as distinct from Labrador). By that classification, Newfoundland and its associated small islands have a total area of 111,390 square kilometres.
The waters around Newfoundland have a very rich and varied wildlife, which can be viewed on whale watch excursions and if you are lucky even from land you can see the whales just offshore. There are about 22 different sorts of whales, the Humpback whale being the most impressive sight. Of course there are also opportunities to see dolphins, seals and different species of birds on these trips. The best locations on Newfoundland are along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula in the southeast of the island, especially south of the capital St. John's. Also on the eastern shores there are good possibilities like from Twilingate and Trinity.
Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 1,805 km2, it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada; it is surpassed by Torngat Mountains National Park, which is 9,700 km2. The park takes its name from Newfoundland's second-highest mountain peak (at 806 metres) located within the park. Its French meaning is "large mountain standing alone," or more literally "great sombre." Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island's west coast. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago. "The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth's mantle lie exposed." The Gros Morne National Park Reserve was established in 1973, and was made a national park in October 1, 2005. The park was the subject of a short film in 2011's National Parks Project, directed by Sturla Gunnarsson and scored by Melissa Auf der Maur, Sam Shalabi and Jamie Fleming.
L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the most famous site of a Norse or Viking settlement in North America outside Greenland. Dating to around the year 1000, L'Anse aux Meadows is the only site widely accepted as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It is notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas. It was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. L'Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed Norse site in North America outside Greenland. It represents the farthest-known extent of European exploration and settlement of the New World before the voyages of Christopher Columbus almost 500 years later. Historians have speculated that there were other settlement sites, or at least Norse-Native American trade contacts, in the Canadian Arctic. In 2012, possible Norse outposts were identified in Nanook at Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as Nunguvik, Willows Island and the Avayalik Islands.
Terra Nova National Park is located on the east coast of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, along several inlets of Bonavista Bay. The park takes its name from the Latin name for Newfoundland; it is also the original Portuguese name given to the region. Terra Nova National Park was created in 1957 and was the first National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. Terra Nova protects the Eastern Island Boreal Forest natural region. This region covers most of the island of Newfoundland, east of Deer Lake, and is characterized by black spruce trees with pockets of balsam fir, white pine, mountain ash, tamarack, maple and other deciduous tree species. Animals that inhabit this national park are black bears, caribou, black ducks, moose, red foxes, bald eagles, red squirrels, lynxes, beavers, puffins, snowshoe hares, ospreys, and minks. Marine animals that inhabit offshore are humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, pilot whales, harp seals, orcas and dolphins.
Newfoundland has two international airports – St. John's International Airport (YYT) and the smaller Gander International Airport (YQX). 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.
You can take your car on the boat from Nova Scotia, described below.
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.
The main surface links to the Island of Newfoundland are by superferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Superferries carry hundreds of vehicles and passengers daily between North Sydney and Port aux Basques in southwestern Newfoundland, and between North Sydney and Argentia, a 90 minute drive from St. John's in The Avalon, from June to September.
For details check their website Marine Atlantic
In summer, a passenger ferry operates between Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a little piece of France just off of the Burin Peninsula, and Fortune, just 19 kilometres away.
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 experience an amazing one. Except for the Trans-Canada Highway (Port Aux Basques–St. John's), roads in Newfoundland are among the worst in Canada, so watch out for potholes and heaved pavement.
DRL Coachlines operates a number of scheduled bus services throughout Newfoundland. There is a daily scheduled bus service between St John's and Port aux Basques along Route 1 and it stops along the route in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook.
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".)
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 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.
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