Pre-Confederation footage from the Salmonier River, along with a traditional Newfoundland reel

The Dominion of Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada on this date in 1949 to become the country’s tenth province:

Frye in an essay about E.J. Pratt, “Silence in the Sea”:

The attitude I have trying to trace in Pratt and associate with his Newfoundland origin is most clearly expressed, naturally, in the poem called Newfoundland which stands first in his collected poems. As the poet watched the sea beating on the Newfoundand shores, a possible ironic or fatalistic vision is dismissed and the vision of the unquenchable energy and the limitless endurance which unite the real man with real nature takes its place:

Here the tides flow,
And here they ebb;
Not with that dull, unsinewed tread of waters
Held under bonds to move
Around unpeopled shores—
Moon-driven through a timeless circuit
Of invasion and retreat;
But with a lusty stroke of life
Pounding at stubborn gates,
That they might run
Within the sluices of men’s hearts,
Leap under throb of pulse and nerve,
And teach the sea’s strong voice
To learn the harmonies of new floods,
The peal of cataract,
And the soft wash of currents
Against resilient banks,
Or the broken rhythms from old chords
Along dark passages
That once were pathways of authentic fires.

And just as the closed door separates the world of consciousness and feeling from the blind fury, so the open door unites man and his world in a common vision. (CW 12, 396-7)

I was lucky enough to live in Newfoundland for a year, and I can guarantee that Newfoundland did not join Canada, Canada joined Newfoundland.

I can also confirm that the bite of Newfoundland humor is keen. After the jump, a sketch from CODCO, now twenty years defunct and still missed.

An earlier post in which Frye cites a poignant fragment of Newfoundland verse here.


Prison Visit, featuring Mary Walsh and Tommy Sexton (both, of course, cross-dressed). Newfoundlanders have always dealt with a long history of poverty and dysfunction with a long history of black humor about it. They have an old saying that nicely captures the unfair advantages enjoyed by those who already have more than they need at the expense of those who don’t: “Those as has, gits.”

If you want to see the glory of Newfoundland and the northern Canadian wilderness, check out Billy Connolly’s Journey to the Edge of the World, available on DVD.  An excerpt below:


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2 thoughts on “Newfoundland

  1. Veronica Abbass

    I thought the date was April 01, 1949. Is the idea that “Canada joined Newfoundland” on April Fool’s Day a Canadian myth?

    1. Michael Happy Post author

      I checked the date, Veronica, and Canada did indeed join Newfoundland at midnight, 31 March 1949. Given how close the referendum was, it’s likely many Newfoundlanders spent April Fool’s Day regretting it. Their loss was our gain. It’s hard to imagine this country without Newfoundland. We’re very lucky they took us in.


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