What's Life Like In Labrador/Newfoundland?

I’m reading an interesting book about these two remote areas, and I find the tpoic interesting. Newfoundland is a huge island-with very few people. There seem to be a lot of small , isolated villages where people make a very hard living. the collapse of the cod fishery has made life tough as well-and thw winters are long and cold. for those of us who have been there-why do people stay? there seems to be little work or opportunity, and the harsh climate limits what you can do. Is there any evidence that these places will ever attract a large population? most heartwrenching are the depictions of the “outports”-these are the remote towns, reachable only by sea, in which people live very poor(economically) lives. How hard is it to travel in newfoundland? wehens is the best time to go?

I’m not sure whether the poster Labradorian is still around, but he’d be a good one to answer these questions.

For a long time, Newfoundlanders emigrated to central Canada to find work. I understand that that may be changing somewhat: Newfoundland has offshore oil, and what with rising oil prices, the giant Hibernia offshore oil platform may be paying for itself now. I seem to remember reading discussion of a second platform.

If so, I hope that they will manage the temporary inflow of wealth to improve their infrastructure and build sustainability into it, rather than just blowing it on shiny new toys like SUVs and bigscreen TVs. A lot of places (the UK is one example) haven’t planned for when oil or gas production peaks and starts to decrease, and are now having problems.

Lots of dogs.


I’ve only visited the region once, but it seems to me that shellfish is a staple of the economy…along the west coast of the island, every house I saw had a truckload of what seemed to me like lobster traps nearby.

I will also say that in my travels all across North America, the friendliest locals I’ve encountered were those in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Living in NL is fabulous!

I am a born and bred Newfoundlander. I am currently living in an ‘outport,’ small rural fishing community. Or around the bay, as we like to say. I grew up outside St. John’s, (or Town) the captial of our province. There is a bit of a battle between the Bay and Town. So I have a bit of a taste of both rural and urban living in our wonderful province. The town I am in now is primrarily a fishing town. A lot of crab. And to dispel any myths, crab fishermen have a tonne of money.

Ask the Newf!!! I have also done a bit of travelling around the island and Labrador. I will do my best to field any questions and will forgive stupid questions asked by any stunned mainlanders.

I am not aware that we have a big dog population, but I have never lived anywhere else to compare (well, New Brunswick for a year, but that does not count.) I have travelled a bit in Canada though. Not for any extended period though.

What book are you reading, Ralph? Feel free to pick my brain for the authentic Newfoundland experince.

As an aside, I am aware of the stupid newfie sterotype and the irony of my name. I assure you that I am, in fact, quite clever. I graduated from our fair Memorial University (and to prove that MUN does not just hand out degrees to make us seem smart, I also have a degree from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB. but maybe they have a quota. :smiley: )

Welcome, notso!

It’s good to have an actual Newfoundlander on board. (And I’m sure there are more here than you. :slight_smile: )

So, is what I said upthread about NL getting lots of revenue from the offshore oil true? Did Hibernia fanally break even?

I’ve never been to NL, but I would very much like to go some day.

Interesting techie fact about NL: it’s the only place in Canada that has regular commercial radio stations with callsigns that do not start with C. These date from before Newfoundland joined Canada. From Wikipedia:

Thanks for the reply, the book is “THEATRE OF FISH” by John Gimlette. His greatgradfarher went to NL as a doctor, under Grenfell. The thing I find fascinating-NL has people who speak gaelic! The island seems to have been gnored for a long time-hopefully the oil will help the people to a better life. How did the Avalon Peninsula get named? And, have you been to L’anse aux Meadows? Overall, life in Labrador must be VERY hard-Gimlette talks about places like Nain, which are really isolated=and filled with a lot of hopelessness. I definitely recommend the book!

Oh, I forgot that Gimlette mentions how hard it is to travel across many areas-much of the land is either densely forested or boggy and wet. Hence, the isolation of the outports. And now that the cod fishing is gone, there is nothing to sustain many towns. Is there any sign that the cod are coming back?

Thanks for the welcome. I lurked for a long time before deciding to pay up. I am really gald I did. I have learned so much!

You guys are very intense! I can tell you stuff about George Street, the street of bars and that we have the most per capita bars in the Canada. :smiley:

I was not aware of the significance of our radio call letters. It has just always been that way.

As for Hibernia, I am not sure if we have “broken even” but there does appear to be a big influx of money into the province. It does not seem to have trickled down to rural NL, but St. John’s is booming. Multiple hotels, retail stores and restuarants have all been attributed to the oil money. On a personal level, I have also noticed a lot of “non-white” faces around. (I in no way intend that as a racist comment, I don’t know how else to put it!) I have no stats on that, but we have been a very culturally homogenenous society thus far. It is great meeting new people and we are getting better resturants too!
As for Ralph’s comments, I don’t know anybody who fluently speaks gaelic, but there is a huge Irish presence here. I am wondering how old your book is! WHile some outports are only accessible by boat, for the most part, there are roads to most parts of the province. I am about 3 hours (300 km) from St. John’s. It is a huge province.

The Avalon was named for Avalon, as in King Arthur’s legend. Named by Lord Baltimore. I highly recommend Baltimore’s Mansion by Wayne Johnston. It is a memoir, wonderfully funny and historical. All of his work is worth checking out.

I have not been to Lanse Aux Meadows. I have been up that way a couple of times, but neglected to go. When you are from a place, I guess you neglect a lot of the tourist stuff.

Visit any time! Apparently we are predicting a low tourist turn out. Come now while the crowds are thin!

Any other NLers on the Dope? Dopefest?

I visited Newfoundland once, 18 years ago. (I can’t believe it has been that long!) I’ll never forget St. John’s; the streets of Boston are a midwestern grid by comparison. Every street changes direction at least every 50 yards, and it seems to be a provincial law that the street name has to change at every intersection.

Still, St. John’s is a neat city, steeped in history with a great nautical atmosphere. Outside of St. John’s, the national parks are spectacular, but I found the roadside towns to be . . . well, kind of run-down and depressing. It might be different in the fishing villages.

St. Pierre and Miquelon are a really cool side trip.

Those islands are French territory, aren’t they? Do you have to have a passport, go through customs etc if you visit them from Newfoundland?

Nope. But you do through customs. My mom says it is because we are friendly neighbours. Yes, I am an adult. I happened to be on the phone with her when I replied to this.

St. John’s streets are charming. It you can navigate them you can drive anywhere.

hey there, born and bred Newfoundlander here, I’m from St. John’s and just graduating from Memorial convocating in a few weeks (with a music degree).

I don’t have a lot of time to talk about what Newfoundland is like, but I can tell you I have done a lot of travelling, and there is nowhere else I have found that I want to live and raise my family. Newfoundlanders tend to have a strong attachment to their home … maybe because it’s somewhat isolated or sometimes we feel that the rest of Canada (“mainlanders”) views us separately.
But the people, the land, the community and fabulous vibrant culture…IMHO, there is nowhere else that compares to it.

A few practical things,: if you want to visit, the warmest weather here is in July and August, but June is when you’ll see icebergs if that’s what you’re after. June can be cold, though. Yes, the winters are longish and unpredictable, but they are mild (temperature usually hovers around O Celsius) with lots of snow and freeze-thaw cycles.

I’ll stop in again in this thread to add more perhaps. I know of one other Newfoundlander on the board, percussion (besides those identified here, obviously).

Back in the day when I was doing hunting, fishing and adventure travel, one of our best-liked trips was to Newfoundland for a moose hunt. In fact, the last group of hunters I sent bagged their moose 20 minutes after leaving the airport…with the bumper of the guide’s truck.

Woodland caribou were also an option. Black bear, too.

Everyone I dealt with up there was very nice. And I learned how to say the name of the province properly.

PS- I think StGermain was joking a little. The breed of dog, Newfoundland, y’know?

Yep, I was making with the funny. Newfoundland dogs, labrador retreivers and (if you want to go there) Nova Scotia duck tolling retreivers.

Yeah, I kinda wondered about that… Newfoundlanders are known for their sense of humour!

A few other things I thought about… We have no snakes, skunks, porqupines or raccoons (on the island, I think Labrador may have porqupines.) My first encounter with a skunk while living in NB was quite a fright! We have our own time zone, although most of Labrador goes with Atlantic time. We have our own dictionary of Newfoundland English, a scholarly work that records language still used to this day.

Some of my favourite people in the whole world are Newfies. I lived in Yellowknife for eight years and in Banff - so lots of Newfies around me. I now live in Baltimore, Maryland, but my best friend down here is an ex-pat Newfie. Life is good :slight_smile:

That’s why they’re cool. They’re right off the coast of North America, but they’re as French as Gay Paree!

They’re all that remains of the vast French domain that once stretched from Quebec to New Orleans.

I think you need a passport if you’re not Canadian or French. I know I had mine, although I can’t swear that they wouldn’t have let me in without it.

Normally, when an American travels in Canada, it’s very humdrum when they ask you “Citizen of what country?” United States–yeah, like they don’t hear that a billion times a day. I always wish I could say something like Fiji or Tonga just to make the customs person’s life a little more interesting. St. Pierre is one place where I didn’t have to–99+% of the people there are either Canadian or French, so by saying “United States” for once I was a change of pace.

Wait. Can you clarify? Why would there be a lot of Newfies around you in Yellowknife? They’re, like, a really long way from each other, right? :confused:

Annie Proulx wrote a book called “The Shipping News” which was made into a movie of the same name, starring Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore. If you’ve seen this movie, are the scenes there generally like those of Newfoundland or not realistic enough?