90 Fun & Interesting Facts about Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Newfoundland, Canada is known for its colourful homes on rocky shores, unique dialect of English, and friendly folk.

Find out what else “The Rock” and “The Big Land” are known for with these fascinating and fun facts about Newfoundland and Labrador province, Canada!

General Newfoundland & Labrador Facts

  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada and sits at the northeastern corner of North America.
  • It is part of Atlantic Canada, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. It is, however, not considered a “Maritime Province” because it’s history and culture is different than the other three.
  • Newfoundland is an island surrounded by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and North Atlantic Ocean, while Labrador is a part of the mainland bordering Quebec and the Labrador Sea. They are separated by the Strait of Belle Isle.
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon, some islands that are technically part of France, are only 19 km (12 mi) off the southwestern coast of Newfoundland. They are a vestige of what was once New France.
  • At 405,212 km2 (156,500 mi2), Newfoundland and Labrador is the largest Atlantic province, but 4th smallest province in Canada.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is nearly the same size as California or Paraguay.
A single iceberg in the sea surrounded by tall mountains in Torngat Mountains National Park
A lone iceberg in Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador
  • Labrador takes up 71% of the province’s area but is home to only 6% of its population.
  • With 521,000 people, Newfoundland and Labrador has the second lowest population of any province, after Price Edward Island, but has more than 10 times the population of any of the territories (Nunavut, Yukon, or Northwest Territories).
  • There are 10 cities in Canada that have a higher population than all of Newfoundland and Labrador (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hamilton, and Kitchener).
  • The capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is Saint John’s (not to be confused with Saint John, New Brunswick). With a population of 112,000, it is the 19th largest city in Canada. It is on the southeastern coast of Newfoundland Island.
  • 40% of the province’s population lives in the greater Saint John’s area (population 205,000), and half the province’s population lives on the Avalon Peninsula where the capital is located.
A row of colorful houses with a bay in the background in Saint John's the capital of Newfoundland
Colourful houses in Saint John’s Newfoundland
  • Newfoundland was once an independent country, and many people there still consider themselves to be from Newfoundland first, and Canada second.
  • The Beothuk, who once inhabited Newfoundland Island, went extinct after Europeans brought disease and slaughtered them.
  • Today, the province is home to Inuit and Innu peoples in the far north and on the east coast of Labrador, and Mi’kmaq on the island of Newfoundland.
  • 9% of people in Newfoundland are indigenous or Métis, more than any province in Atlantic Canada, and 3rd highest of any province in Canada, after Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
  • People from Newfoundland are called Newfoundlanders and people from Labrador can also be called Labradorians. The indigenous people prefer their own names, such as Innu or Inuit.
Some colourful boats in a habour in Newfoundland
Fishing boats in Newfoundland
  • Newfoundlanders are also colloquially called “Newfies” in the province and across Canada, but (depending on context) the term can be considered derogatory. Their accent is also sometimes called “Newfinese”.
  • 97% of people in Newfoundland speak English, making it Canada’s most linguistically homogenous province.  
  • The local accent/dialect, referred to as Newfoundland English, is totally unique in Canada and varies considerably from the English spoken in other provinces. It also varies a lot within the province, and has a lot of influence from British English (especially from Bristol), Scottish, and Irish. You can hear examples of it here.
  • There are also unique dialects of French and Irish in Newfoundland.
  • The name Newfoundland was first used by King Henry VII, to describe the land found by John Cabot as “New Found Launde.” Labrador is named after the Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador, who sailed the coast in 1498-99.
Expansive view of the harbour and city of Saint John's Newfoundland
Saint John’s Harbour
  • The province’s name is correctly pronounced “New-fund-land”, with no pause between the first two syllables.
  • Newfoundland is nicknamed “The Rock” while Labrador is nicknamed “The Big Land”. Local license plates used to say “Canada’s Happy Province.”
  • Newfoundland is the youngest province of Canada, added in 1949, though Nunavut Territory came later.
  • “Labrador” was officially added to the province’s name in 2001, even though it was a part of the province since 1949.
  • On the flag of Newfoundland, the blue triangles on the left symbolize the waters in and surrounding the province, red symbolize the people’s efforts, and yellow their confidence. Overall, it is meant to slightly resemble England’s Union Jack, but the design also matches Beothuk and Innu pendant patterns.
Newfoundland flag
The flag of Newfoundland flag
  • The official motto of Newfoundland and Labrador is Quaerite prime regnum Dei, which is Latin for “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
  • The Newfoundland dog and Newfoundland pony are symbols of the province.

Random Interesting Facts about Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Examples of Newfoundland slang include Whaddya at? (How are you?), Yes b’y (to show agreement), or Who knit ya? (who raised you?). Here are more examples.
  • There are also dozens of sayings related to fish and the sea in Newfoundland. For example, “This is a fine kettle of fish” means this is a messy situation, or “Let no man steal your lines” means you should be wary of competition. Here are others.
A colony of puffins on a rocky coast in Newfoundland
Puffins on the coast of Newfoundland
  • 95% of North American puffins live in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is the official bird of the province.
  • L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland island is the oldest European settlement in North America. It was built by Norse sailors (or “Vikings”) around 1000 years ago. Some believe it could have been built by Leif Erikson, arriving in North America half a millennium before Christopher Columbus. 
L'Anse aux Meadows, Canada
L’Anse aux Meadows is the oldest European settlement in the Americas.
  • Terra Nova National Park is the easternmost national park in Canada.
  • Mount Caubvick in the Torngat Mountains is the highest point in Canada east of the Rockies, at 1652 m (5420 ft).
An aerial view showing a huge valley in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland
Expansive Gros Morne National Park
  • Newfoundland and Labrador also has 32 provincial parks (a small figure, if we compare it to the 1000 in British Columbia!)
  • Newfoundland is one of the best places to see icebergs in Canada. Around 400-800 of them make it as far south as Saint John’s per year. Most come from Greenland.
  • The Titanic sank 600 km (370 mi) southeast of Newfoundland when it hit one of these icebergs in 1912.
  • Both Newfoundland Island and Labrador are roughly triangular in shape.
A picturesque town in Newfoundland with icebergs in the ocean in the background
Icebergs off the coast of Trinity, Newfoundland
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastline is 17,542 km (10,900 mi) long in total, more than twice the total width of Canada.
  • There are roughly 7000 smaller islands in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Saint John’s is the windiest city in Canada, with 47 days per year of very strong wind and an annual average wind speed of 21.9 km/hr (13.6 mph).
  • Newfoundland and Labrador has its own time zone, which is 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic time (so if it’s 7:00 in Nova Scotia, then it’s 7:30 in Newfoundland). Much of Labrador sticks with Atlantic time, though.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy is based on offshore oil, mining, tourism, and the fishing industry. More people work in the fishing industry in Newfoundland than any other province of Canada.
A rocky bay on the coast of Newfoundland
The rocky coast of Newfoundland
  • Newfoundland and Labrador has the 2nd highest GDP per capita of any province, after Alberta, and similar to that of Saskatchewan.
  • Gander International Airport in Newfoundland used to be one of the world’s busiest airports. As the closest point in North America to Europe, and roughly halfway between New York and London, many airplanes used to stop there.
  • When the world’s flights shut down after the attacks in New York City and Washington DC on 9/11, numerous flights also landed at Gander International Airport, nearly doubling the town’s population for four days until they were able to take off again.
  • Fort McMurray, Alberta is sometimes called “the 2nd biggest city in Newfoundland” because so many Newfoundlanders go there to work in the oil industry.
Aerial view of harbour in Quidi Vidi, St. John's, Newfoundland
The St. John’s neighbourhood of Quidi Vidi inspired the Group of Seven
  • The Group of Seven, a group of famous Canadian painters based in Ontario, travelled to Newfoundland to paint its landscapes.
  • Famous people from Newfoundland include model Shannon Tweed, actress Natasha Henstridge, wrestler Moondog King, politician Seamus O’Regan, and sports announcer Bob Cole.
  • Music in Newfoundland is strongly influenced by Irish, English, and Scottish folk music, including sea shanties (songs sung by workers on ships).
  • The most famous band from Newfoundland is Great Big Sea. They played energetic/rock versions of traditional Newfoundland folk songs and sea shanties.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province not to have a team in the CHL (Canadian Hockey League).

Historical Newfoundland Facts

  • Newfoundland has some of the oldest rocks in the world, and many geologists go to Gros Morne National Park to study plate tectonics.
  • Evidence of human inhabitation in the area goes back around 9000 years.
  • Around 2500 years ago, the Dorset culture reached northern Labrador, followed later by the Innut and Inuit.
Mountains and sea in Torngat National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
Labrador and its mountains are part of the Canadian Shield
  • Around the year 0, the Beothuks migrated from Labrador to Newfoundland Island.
  • Around 1000, the Norse arrived on the northern coast of Newfoundland and built a settlement there.
  • John Cabot was the first European to land in North America in the age of exploration, in 1497. It’s uncertain where he landed, but many believe it was in Newfoundland.
  • In the 1500s, the Mi’kmaq arrived in Newfoundland.
  • In 1583, the British landed at Saint John’s and claimed the island for England.
  • They built several settlements, and Newfoundland became an official British colonial province in 1623.
Fort Amherst on the coast of Newfoundland
Fort Amherst, dating to the 1770s
  • Thousands of fishermen arrived in the following decades, finding the best fishing waters in the North Atlantic, especially for cod.
  • In the late 1600s and early 1700s, France also made attempts to colonize the island. In 1713, France ceded its claims to Britain, but French fishermen were allowed to continue fishing on the west coast.
  • The colony gained the right to responsible (self) government in 1855.
  • When given a chance to join the Canada Confederation in 1869 and again in 1885, Newfoundland passed.
  • In 1881, construction began on the Newfoundland Railway.
A historic tower on Signal Hill in St. John's Newfoundland
Cabot Tower on Signal Hill in Saint John’s
  • In 1901, the first Transatlantic signal was sent from Signal Hill in Saint John’s to the United Kingdom. The hill is the site of Cabot Tower, built in 1898 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of John Cabot.
  • In 1907, Newfoundland acquired dominion status, essentially becoming an independent country, at the same time as New Zealand. It included Labrador.
  • The first non-stop Transatlantic flight was from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919.
  • The Great Depression had a profound impact on Newfoundland, with a major drop in demand for fish. The government went bankrupt and was forced to return to being a dependent territory of the UK in 1934.
Aerial view of Saint John's with St. Patrick's church standing out
The Church of St. Patrick in St. John’s
  • During WWII, a German submarine set up a remote weather station on Labrador, the only known case of Germans landing on North America during the war.
  • Newfoundland became a major American military base during WWII, bringing prosperity.
  • In 1949, Newfoundland became the 10th and final province of Canada after 52.3% of the province agreed to it in a referendum.
  • Commercial whaling came to an end in Newfoundland in 1972 after world wide bans.
  • In 1979, a major oil reserve called Hibernia was discovered off the coast of Newfoundland.
  • The Newfoundland Railway, once the longest narrow-gauge railway system in North America, was closed in 1988.
An old train car on display in St. John's Newfoundland
Retired train car in Saint John’s
  • In the early 1990s, the cod industry collapsed due to overfishing, causing record unemployment and population decrease in Newfoundland.
  • In 2004 to 2005, municipal councils across Newfoundland took down their Canadian flags in protest of the fact that most oil money from the province went to the federal government. In the end, they won, and 100% of the money stays in the province now.
  • In 2005, the autonomous region of Nunatsiavut was created for the Inuit people in northern Labrador.
  • In 2006, a curling team from Newfoundland won the Olympic gold, the first from the province to win an Olympic medal.
  • From 2008 on, Newfoundland was no longer a recipient of equalization payments in Canada.
  • In 2016, an online petition calling for separation of Labrador from Newfoundland circulated online.