Newfoundland and Labrador History

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1497           Newfoundland rediscovered by John Cabot and claimed for England.

1500s         English, French, Basque, and Portuguese fishermen contested the area.

1534          Jacques Cartier visited Newfoundland.

1583          Sir Humphrey Gilbert reclaimed Newfoundland for England.

1610          First English settlement in St. John’s.

1627          St. Mary’s settled by Lord Culvert.

1662          The first French colony was established in Placentia Bay.

1692          The French captured and burned St. John’s.

1713          By the Treaty of Utrecht, France gave Newfoundland to Britain. 

1713–1783 Treaties recognized British sovereignty but granted French fishermen the right to land and to dry catches along parts of the northern and western coasts.  

1832          First election held for the local House of Assembly.  

1846          St. John’s was destroyed by fire. 

1855          Newfoundland became a self-governing colony.

1892          St. John’s was destroyed by a second great fire.

1898          A railroad was completed across the island.

1927          The coast of Labrador was awarded to Newfoundland.

1934          A royal commission began governing Newfoundland.

1949          The Province of Newfoundland was formed on 31 March. 


About 93 percent of Newfoundland’s residents have British ancestry and about 3 percent have French ancestry.


Since Newfoundland joined the Canadian Union late (1949), its early organization and records/record keeping differ from other provinces.


Because Newfoundland joined the Canadian Union late (1949), its early organization, records, and record keeping differ from other provinces. Newfoundland has no county or district divisions. Most records are found in the provincial capital, St. John’s.