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ST. JOHN'S, 1947 - The people of Newfoundland will decide, by referendum, their country's future. Voters in Newfoundland and Labrador will participate in a referendum campaign. They will hear arguments for and against choices for the future government of their country. Then in the privacy of the polling booth, each voter will mark a ballot to determine the future of Newfoundland. It's a big responsibility.

Yes or no? How will this Newfoundlander vote in the referendum? Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL B11-80).

Joseph Smallwood provides Newfoundlanders with compelling pro-confederation arguments, presented in a dynamic style.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL NA 2597).

Crowds of Newfoundlanders gather to hear electrifying speeches for and against Confederation.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL NA 2602).

Newfoundland: Province, Colony or Country?

ST. JOHN'S, 1947-What is the status of Newfoundland? How is the country governed? These questions are not easy to answer. We know that Newfoundland was on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 1930s. The government had too many bills to pay, and too little income. The situation was serious. There was not enough money to pay teachers, ferry crews or nurses. There was not enough money to run the railway or fix roads or operate ports. There was not enough money to pay out to people on welfare, although they got only 6 a day. Something had to be done.
  As a result, the constitution was suspended. Since 1934 a Commission Government of 6 people and a Governor, all appointed by the British government, have run Newfoundland's affairs.
  During World War II, Newfoundland and Labrador prospered as thousands of armed forces personnel from Britain, Canada, and the United States lived and worked here. Thousands of people got jobs at air and naval bases. Many Newfoundlanders prospered for the first time in their lives. Since the war ended in 1945, the armed forces have started to leave.
  Then came Britain's decision to let the people decide-will Newfoundland become part of Canada, remain a British Colony, or return to responsible government?
  The people will listen and learn about their choices. Then they will decide in a referendum. It's an exciting time for all Newfoundlanders.

Concerned citizens strain to hear arguments for and against Confederation in a packed meeting in their community hall.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL NA 2600).

Canada Would Welcome Newfoundland

OTTAWA, 1947 - Canada would be pleased to welcome Newfoundland as the country's tenth province, Canadian government officials assured a Newfoundland delegation. Canada does not wish to interfere in Newfoundland's affairs, but accepts Confederation as a natural end to the Confederation Dream of a country stretching "from sea to sea". Canada is prepared to offer excellent benefits, should the people of Newfoundland decide to accept Confederation. Newfoundland would gain all the health and welfare services enjoyed by Canadians; Canada would take over the Newfoundland debt; Canada would take over responsibility for ports, airports, highways and other services; Canada would pay millions of dollars in special subsidies to the province. Editorial: page 10

Britain Says No Further Funds for Newfoundland

LONDON, 1947 - His Majesty s government gave some sobering news to the Newfoundland delegates meeting here. Britain's treasury is empty. The war effort has been very costly, and no money is left in the treasury to pay Newfoundland's bills. The British government has had to borrow money from Canada to pay Newfoundland's bills. British taxpayers have enough tax burdens without paying more to keep Newfoundland going. There is no support here in Britain for funding for Newfoundland. "Don't count on us" is the message Newfoundlanders heard from the British government.

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