Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy (?) Confederation Day, Newfoundland.

Today in 1949, the Dominion of Newfoundland ended its separate existence and became a part of Canada. It's not been a happy marriage for the Newfoundlanders, and it was a very close vote in July 1948. Some bitter residents have called it "rigged," referring to the decisive (second) referendum day as "Black Thursday."

The suspicion of Canada was deeply held for decades prior to the accession, as this song indicates--"Come near at your peril, Canadian Wolf!"

In fact, the referenda were driven in large measure by the reaction to the large influx of American servicemen who built bases in the Dominion during the Second World War. The influx resulted in thousands of marriages (and prosperity), along with a flowering movement for economic union with the United States. Alas, it was not to be, with Britain and Canada steering the country toward Our Neighbor To The North. The Canadian Wolf won and the province of Newfoundland was born on March 31, 1949. If nothing else, Red Wing fans can rejoice in the province's favorite hockey son, Dan Cleary, the first Newfoundlander to have his name on Lord Stanley's Cup.


  1. Newfoundland actually lost its autonomy in the twenties or thirties. Newfoundland went broke and they approached Mother Britain to help get them out of debt. Britain agreed, but at the loss of their autonomy. After the War, the Brits were looking to shed itself of liabilities, and Newfoundland was a money hole, not a producer, for the British Empire. Britain campaigned hard to get Newfoundland to join Confederation.

  2. I am the product of one of those marriages! My Air Force dad marryied my Newfie mom in 55. I was born in 57 in Illinois. My mom was homesick, so my family moved back to Saint Johns where my brother was born in 58, and we stayed there until 61. My mom's family was still bitter about the vote. (My uncle Bill, who fought in the Royal Army in 39-45 was especially outspoken. He was a grand man. When he would see me he would say, "There's that dirty Yank!", and I, a toddler, would respond, "There's that dirty Newf!") They much preferred independence or statehood with the US, with joining Canada coming in a distant third. Great post Dale, you brought a pang to my half Newfie heart, Newfoundland being a unique and wonderful place.


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