Area and Population.
13. Situated in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, at the very gateway of Canada, and in the same latitude as Northern France,
Newfoundland is the tenth largest island in the world. From north to south it is 316
miles in length; its extreme width from east to west is 317 miles. The area of the
Island is 42,000 square miles; it is thus rather larger than Ireland and rather
smaller than England. Its coastline, which is deeply indented and studded with
bays and inlets, is computed at 6,000 miles.
14. The Island is not mountainous but
consists of rolling lands and ranges of low hills. There are numerous lakes and rivers
which together comprise about one-eighth of the area of the country. The principal bodies
of water are Grand Lake, with an area of 200 square miles, and Red Indian Lake, with an
area of 67 square miles. The Humber River, which empties into Bay of Islands, on the
West Coast, is 80 miles in length; the other main rivers flow to the eastern bays.
Among these are the largest river in the Island, the Exploits, 200 miles long and
navigable for 30 miles; the Gander, 100 miles long; the Terra Nova, 80 miles long;
and the Gambo, 60 miles long.
15. By a decision of the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council in 1927 Newfoundland was confirmed in the sovereignty
of Labrador, about 1,000 miles running from Cape Chidley at the head of Ungava Bay to
Blanc Sablon in the Straits of Belle Isle. The area of Newfoundland, with its
dependency of Labrador, is thus 152,000 square miles or nearly three times the size
16. The population of Newfoundland
is estimated at 182,000. In 1891 it was 198,000; in 1901, 217,000; in 1911, 239,000;
and in 1921, the year in which the last census was taken, 259,000. Details are given
in Appendix A. That the rate of increase is not higher is explained by the fact that
until recently there was a constant flow of persons leaving for the North American
Continent. It is computed that there are as many as 200,000 persons of Newfoundland
origin now resident in the United States and Canada. For many years there has been no
large movement of people into the Island as immigrants or otherwise.
17. The people of Newfoundland
are mostly descendants of settlers from England, Ireland, and the Channel Islands.
There is a small number of French extraction and a still smaller number from Scotland
and Wales. As their primary occupation is fishing, they are distributed round the
coast and it is estimated that no less than 90 per cent. of the population live on
the littoral. Apart from the inland towns of Grand Falls, Deer Lake, and Buchans,
which will be referred to later, there are few permanent settlements in the interior.
18. St. John's, the capital of
the Island and the only large town, has a population of about 40,000. The remainder
of the people are distributed among some 1,300 settlements, spread for the most part
over the 6,000 miles of coast, with populations ranging from 50 to 5,000. The most
important of these coastal settlements, which are known as the "Outports," are Harbour
Grace, Carbonear, Trinity, Bonavista, Twillingate, Corner Brook, St. George's, Grand
Bank, Burin, Placentia and Bay Roberts.
||Hotel [at] Placentia, looking North, n.d.
Photographer unknown. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207),
Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
19. It will be seen from Map No. 1
that the population is unevenly divided, no less than 47 per cent. of the people living
on the Avalon Peninsula, which is itself only one-twelfth of the total area of the Island;
77.5 per cent. live on the east coast, including the Avalon Peninsula, 7.5 per cent.
on the west coast and 15 per cent. on the south coast, excluding the Avalon Peninsula.
Another feature which should be noted is that the people are divided almost equally into
three main religious denominations, Church of England, Roman Catholic and United Church
of Canada. The membership of the other denominations is comparatively small; that with
the greatest number of adherents is the Salvation Army. If the three main groups be taken,
it will be found that the population is distributed in the main in denominational divisions.
In the larger centres denominations overlap, but in the country as a whole a district peopled
by adherents of the Church of England is followed by a district peopled by Catholics, and
this again by a district peopled by members of the United Church of Canada, and so on.
(See Map No. 2.)
20. The number of settlers in
Labrador is estimated at about 4,000; in addition, there are some 1,300 Esquimaux
and a number of Indians. The population is greatly increased during the summer months
when large numbers of fishermen from Newfoundland visit Labrador for the fishing season.
The chief ports are Battle Harbour and Cartwright.
Image description updated May, 2004.