National Geographic : 1949 Jun
Newfoundland, Canada's New Province By ANDREW H. BROWN Illustrations by National Geographic Photographer Robert F. Sisson SAGIRT NEWFOUNDLAND, Great Britain's oldest colony, this spring took up a new r6le, as tenth Province of the Dominion of Canada. The fateful balloting took place in the sum mer of 1948. Before the votes were cast, the Government of Canada expressed willingness to welcome Newfoundland into the family of her Provinces-if the island's citizens in free election spoke for admission into the Dominion. Canada Extends Atlantic Seaboard By this change Canada adds thousands of miles of coastline to her sea frontiers. Now North America's eastern shores are Canadian from Grand Manan Island, southern New Brunswick, to Cape Columbia, the northern most jut of Ellesmere Island, 475 miles from the North Pole. The "baby" Province of Newfoundland brings Canada much more than huge chunks of strategic territory. It pours into world trade forest products, minerals, and fish. Undeveloped Labrador counts vast wealth in forests, water power, and iron ore (map, page 782). With Newfoundland goes also a great aerial crossroad of the new air age. Two-thirds as many people as live in New foundland stopped off at one lonely spot on the island in 1948; yet few of them stayed as long as a day in the country. They dropped in, ate a hot meal, or maybe just a sandwich and a cup of coffee on the run. Some groups talked volubly among them selves, yet couldn't ask for a paper napkin or an extra spoon except in sign language! This many-tongued throng converged on the big Gander Airport in northeast Newfound land, en route to Europe, Africa, or America. A total of 208,631 of these air-borne transients bustled through Gander last year, making it one of the busiest aerial junctions in the world. In 1949 the fabulous airfield may count an even higher total of here-today, gone-tomorrow visitors (page 780). Backdoor Callers Miss the Best These air travelers entered Newfoundland by its wilderness back door. Even those voy agers who went through in daytime and good weather saw only vast reaches of sparsely populated country. For Gander lies deep in a forest area. Rough lumber roads fan out from the thread of the cross-island railway that skirts the airfield. Otherwise, bushwhackers go places by canoe-or dog sled. Most of Newfoundland's proud and hearty citizens live far away from this airport cross road, around the jagged rim of the island. They populate widely scattered fishing out ports and a few larger towns. These cling to the cliff-hung coast or to bays and inlets that pink its fringes. My companion on the summer flight that whisked me in five hours from New York to Gander, Newfoundland, was a big map of the island I was setting out to see (page 783). The sheet held improbable place names: Heart's Content, Heart's Desire, and Heart's Delight; Come by Chance, and Seldom Come By. By a route I traced on the map a modern Pilgrim could go direct from Manful Bight across Confusion Bay to Paradise Point. Sailors must have named inland hills Main Topsail, Mizzen Topsail, and a near-by way stop, Gaff Topsail. Hunters and fishermen christened Seal Cove, Trouty, Foxtrap, and Black Duck Cove. My searching finger moved from romantic Lake of the Hills and Red Indian Lake to bluff titles like Sitdown, Puddle, and Gulp Ponds. Harpoon Hill, Bay d'Espoir, and Blue Hills of Couteau sparked wanderlust. Poetry surely dwelt in the hearts of people who called villages Fleur de Lys, Rushoon, and Ireland's Eye. And what odd fancy had named two little outports St. Jones Without and St. Jones Within? Gander was only a refueling stop for the transatlantic plane carrying me to Newfound land. But it was jump-off spot for my tour of the island. Way Stop for Thousands of Bombers A charming Newfoundland redhead, Mary Norris, guided me around the busy base. She worked for one of the American airlines. Ten airlines of nine countries operated scheduled flights through Gander. More than a dozen nonscheduled air carriers made frequent use of the airport. We walked past 15 big hangars, monuments to all-out war effort. During the recent con flict 17,000 military aircraft winged to the battle fronts through Gander.