In 1876 a man was killed during a brawl over the correct pronunciation of Newfoundland. Mill-workers William Atchison and John Davis, who were known for their spirited arguments, started fighting over whether the island was called ‘new-FOUND-land’ or ‘new-found-LAND’. They marched into a cabin in search of a dictionary, Atchison threw a punch, and Davis drew his gun and shot him dead. Davis got away and spent 37 years on the run.
In 1912, thinking he was about to die in a Peoria hospital, he made a deathbed confession ... but then recovered and had to go on the run again.
At the time of their dispute, both pronunciations were acceptable. Today, the most-popular pronunciation is ‘Noo-fn-land’. Those born before 1950 tend to stress ‘land’ while those born after 1970 stress ‘new’. There is some accepted variation regarding Nyoo/New but don’t put the stress on ‘found’ and make sure the last syllable is ‘land’, never ‘lund’.
Newfoundland is the 16th largest island in the world. It’s larger than Ireland and Wales combined but has a population of only half a million, less than that of Dublin.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland as England’s first overseas territory in 1583, making it the first part of the British Empire, but there may have been earlier visitors: two German privateers named Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst were sent on an expedition by Denmark in 1473, and so may have been discoverers of the New World (which they called 'the Land of the Codfish'), nearly 20 years before Columbus. The claim is disputed, and they may have got no further than Greenland.
The most-popular dogs in the UK and in America are Labrador retrievers. They have held the top spot for 25 years running. They come from Newfoundland, not from Labrador.
The province of ‘Newfoundland and Labrador’ is the most easterly in Canada. It comprises the large island of Newfoundland (and about 7,000 smaller islands) and the mainland of Labrador. The province abuts the Labrador Sea (which is north of the North Atlantic).
Until 2001, the whole province was known simply as ‘Newfoundland’, an anglicisation of the Portuguese Terra Nova. Labrador is named for the Portuguese navigator João Fernandes Lavrador (1453-c.1501). Although Labrador is almost three times as large as Newfoundland, less than 10% of the population live there. Labrador’s bleak landscape earned it the dramatic title of Hammond Innes’ 1958 novel The Land God Gave To Cain.
Labradors come from the island of Newfoundland and were originally called Lesser Newfoundlands or St John’s Water Dogs. (St John’s is the capital of Newfoundland). When they arrived in the UK, the name ‘Newfoundland’ was already taken, so they were named ‘Labradors’ - perhaps because they were known for 'retrieving' things from the Labrador Sea.
When I was very young, my nanny was a big Newfoundland dog... whose task was to keep me from drowning.
The second-largest town on the island is Conception Bay South, it calls itself C.B.S.
Other Newfoundland names include Badger Bay, Deadman’s Bay, Dildo, Eastern Tickle, Gin Cove, Gooseberry Island, Happy Adventure, Heart’s Desire, Kettle Cove, Low Point, Mosquito, Muddy Hole, Pushthrough and Random Island.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Newfoundland stand was entirely devoted to cod liver oil.
When John Cabot sighted Newfoundland in 1497, he thought he had found China.
Newfoundland uses the odd time zone of GMT -3.5.
Traditional Newfoundland food is based on pork fat - everything is cooked in it.
Newfoundland was its own country up until 1949, when it joined Confederation with Canada.
Newfoundland has no crickets, porcupines, skunks, snakes or deer.
There are over 100,000 moose in Newfoundland. They were introduced over 100 years ago.
99% of the world’s critically endangered Boreal Felt Lichen is in Newfoundland.