Documentary Video Series (English)

Welcome to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website Documentary Series. These are short documentaries, about 10 to 15 minutes long, which explore a wide range of topics related to Newfoundland and Labrador history. The videos are extensively illustrated with archival photographs, documents, and moving footage. The series was launched in March 2015 and will continue to grow over the next few years as more videos are added.

General Subject Videos

Women's Suffrage in Newfoundland

Learn how women won the right to vote and run for public office. This video traces the women's suffrage movement in Newfoundland, from its beginnings in the 1890s to its victory in April 1925.

The Great St. John's Fire of 1892

In the dry hot summer of 1892, a great fire consumed St. John's. Two thirds of the city burned to the ground and 11,000 people were left homeless. Three died. This video takes us through the day of the fire and examines its causes and consequences.

The Steamer Seal Hunt, 1862-1950

The seal hunt of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a story of extremes, about men who pushed themselves to the limits of human strength and endurance in one of the most unforgiving places on the planet: the North Atlantic ice fields. This video chronicles the rise and fall of the steamer seal hunt.

The 19 Century Salt-Cod Fisheries

It has been called the fish that launched a thousand ships: cod brought Europeans to Newfoundland and Labrador, and cod made them stay. What started out as a migratory fishery in the 1500s, gave way to a resident operation in the 1800s. For the rest of that century, the salt cod fishery was the engine that drove the colony's economy. This video is about Newfoundland and Labrador's historic salt-cod fishery.

A Settler's Life in Newfoundland and Labrador 1780-1840

Learn what life was like for the Europeans who settled in Newfoundland and Labrador during the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The 1894 Bank Crash

It would become known as Black Monday. On the morning of December 10, 1894, two of Newfoundland's three banks closed their doors. They would never open again. The bank notes that had been the colony's main form of currency were rendered practically worthless. This video examines the time leading up to and immediately after the Bank Crash of 1894.

19th-Century Medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador

At the start of the 1800s, Newfoundland and Labrador had little in the way of medical services. In many places, healers had to come from the home and the community. This video explores what medicine was like for people living in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1800s.

The 1929 Burin Tsunami

Learn about the tsunami that struck Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula on November 18, 1929. The disaster killed 28 people and left hundreds more homeless or destitute. It was the most destructive earthquake-related event in Newfoundland and Labrador's history and occurred at the beginning of a worldwide depression.

First World War

The Newfoundland Regiment Part I: Before Beaumont-Hamel

Learn how the Newfoundland Regiment formed in August 1914 and then follow its activities over the next 22 months. Topics include recruitment, training at St. John's and in the United Kingdom, and frontline service at Gallipoli.

The Newfoundland Regiment Part II: At Beaumont Hamel

Of all the battles that the Newfoundland Regiment fought during the First World War, none was as devastating or as defining as the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Regiment's tragic advance at Beaumont-Hamel on the morning of July 1, 1916 became an enduring symbol of its valour and of its terrible wartime sacrifices. This video examines the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and the effects it had on Newfoundland and Labrador society.

The Newfoundland Regiment Part III: After Beaumont Hamel

This video chronicles the Newfoundland Regiment's activities after Beaumont-Hamel. Topics include the Regiment's service at Belgium, France, and Germany, and its demobilization after peace was restored on November 11, 1918. Learn about important victories at Monchy-le-Preux and Courtrai, how the Regiment won the prestigious title of "Royal", and how Private Thomas Ricketts earned the Victoria Cross.

The Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve

Sailors from Newfoundland and Labrador served in almost every flotilla and squadron of the Royal Navy during the First World War. This video looks at the formation of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve in 1900 and traces its activities during the First World War.

The Women Who Went Overseas

Women from Newfoundland and Labrador were not allowed to enlist in the armed forces during the First World War, but they could still serve overseas as nurses. This video explores what life was like for the professional nurses who served overseas and for the women who joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment - a league of semi-trained nurses who served in military hospitals.

Frances Cluett, Wartime Nurse

Cluett was a schoolteacher from Belloram, Fortune Bay, who served overseas as a nurse during the First World War. This video traces her steps as she travels to St. John's, New York, London, France, and Turkey. Hear the fascinating letters she sent to her family back home and see the dozens of photographs she collected overseas.

Women on the Home Front

During the First World War, more than 15,000 women from across Newfoundland volunteered their time, energy, and expertise to help Allied forces overseas and to boost morale at home. This video chronicles the activities of the Women's Patriotic Association, from its formation in 1914 to its dissolution in 1921.

Other Forces in the First World War

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve are the two most famous forces that recruited Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during the First World War - but they weren't the only ones. This video is about the other military forces and non-combatant units that accepted volunteers from the dominion, including the Newfoundland Forestry Corps, the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Merchant Navy.

Cluny Macpherson in the First World War

Learn about Cluny Macpherson: the doctor from Newfoundland and Labrador who invented the gas mask during the First World War. His invention saved countless lives and some say it even altered the course of the war.

Fighting Labradorians

The traditional skills of many Labradorians made them valuable soldiers in the First World War. Many of the men were trappers and hunters. They were good marksmen who were used to spending long stretches of time outside, living in rough conditions and with little shelter from the elements. All of this came in handy in the trenches of the First World War. This video is about the Labradorians who joined the Newfoundland Regiment.

First World War Letters

During the First World War, letters were a vital link between the men and women who served overseas and their family at home. Today, we still cherish those same letters because they give us valuable insight into the human story of war, which cannot be recreated by official histories, military records, or government documents. This video examines the letters of the First World War. See what a soldier wrote from the front lines and a nurse from a military hospital. Also see the words that a worried mother wrote to her son.

Managing the War Effort: The Newfoundland Patriotic Association

The First World War presented Newfoundland and Labrador with a management problem. How could a small dominion that had little money and even less military experience launch and sustain an effective war effort? Find out how by watching this video.

Post-War Society

On November 11, 1918, Germany signed the Armistice and the First World War was finally over. This video explores what life was like in Newfoundland and Labrador during the next two decades.

The First World War and Newfoundland's Economy

This video explores the effects that the First World War had on Newfoundland and Labrador's economy. In the short-term there was prosperity, triggered by wartime spending and a suddenly booming fishery. That was followed by years of debilitating debt - debt that was largely brought on by the staggering costs of raising and maintaining the Newfoundland Regiment.

First World War Commemorations

After the First World War, people in Newfoundland and Labrador wanted to remember the men and women who had served overseas and to honour the war dead. This video is about the many commemorations that the dominion established once peace was restored.

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