CHAPTER II.--DESCRIPTIVE.

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 of England.

  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.

Placentia 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.
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  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.



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