Newfoundland and Labrador in History

Newfoundland and Labrador: St. John's

Historical Events

Historic Event

1497-08-06 Italian explorer John Cabot returns to Bristol from North America (Newfoundland) - first European to do so since the Vikings

  • 1527-08-03 First known letter sent from North America by John Rut while at St. John's, Newfoundland

Historic Event

1534-05-10 French navigator Jacques Cartier reaches Newfoundland

  • 1583-08-05 Humphrey Gilbert claims Newfoundland for the British crown, the first English colony in North America and the beginning of the British Empire
  • 1610-07-05 John Guy sets sail from Bristol with 39 other colonists for Newfoundland
  • 1613-03-27 The first English child born in Canada at Cuper's Cove, Newfoundland to Nicholas Guy
  • 1805-10-23 Sailing ship "Aeneus" sinks off Newfoundland killing 340
  • 1854-09-27 French fishing vessel SS Vesta collides with American passenger paddle-wheel ship SS Arctic off Newfoundland in heavy fog, sinking the larger passenger ship; 322 killed, most of the survivors were crew members
  • 1871-06-13 Hurricane kills 300 in Labrador
  • 1883-12-26 The Harbour Grace Affray between Irish Catholics and Protestant Orangemen causes five deaths in Newfoundland.
  • 1892-07-08 St. John's, Newfoundland is devastated in the Great Fire of 1892

Radio Premiere

1901-12-12 Guglielmo Marconi sends the first transatlantic radio signal, from Poldhu in Cornwall to Newfoundland, Canada

  • 1907-09-26 New Zealand and Newfoundland each become dominions within the British Empire
  • 1910-09-07 In the Hague, the International Court arbitrates a fishing-rights dispute between the US and Newfoundland (still separate from Canada)

The Titanic Sinks

1912-04-14 RMS Titanic, the world's largest ocean liner, hits an iceberg at 11.40pm off Newfoundland, sinks in the early hours of 15 April

Iceberg Sinks 'Unsinkable' Titanic

1912-04-15 RMS Titanic sinks at 2:27 AM off Newfoundland as the band plays on, with the loss of between 1,490 and 1,635 people

  • 1919-06-14 1st nonstop air crossing of Atlantic (Alcock & Brown) leaves Newfoundland

Historic Event

1928-06-17 Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become 1st woman (passenger) to fly Atlantic (as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stultz)

  • 1931-12-11 Statute of Westminster gives complete legislative independence to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland (Free State), and Newfoundland (not then part of Canada)
  • 1932-04-05 Dominion of Newfoundland: 10,000 rioters seize the Colonial Building leading to the end of self-government
  • 1932-05-21 After flying for 17 hours from Newfoundland, Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Northern Ireland, becoming the 1st transatlantic solo flight by a woman
  • 1933-12-21 Newfoundland reverts to being a crown colony of Great Britain
  • 1934-02-16 Commission of Government is sworn in as form of direct rule for the Dominion of Newfoundland
  • 1935-03-30 Newfoundland changes time to 3½ hrs W of Greenwich, repeats 44 sec
  • 1940-09-03 US gives Britain 50 destroyers in exchange for Newfoundland base lease
  • 1941-01-03 Canada & US acquire air bases in Newfoundland (99 yr lease)

Historic Event

1941-08-10 FDR & Churchill's 2nd meeting at Placentia, Newfoundland

  • 1942-12-12 A fire in a hostel in St. John's, Newfoundland, kills 100 people
  • 1949-03-31 Newfoundland becomes Canada's 10th province
  • 1956-09-25 Transatlantic telephone cable goes into operation from Newfoundland to Oban
  • 1972-06-16 The largest single-site hydro-electric power project in Canada starts at Churchill Falls, Labrador
  • 1979-07-20 44-kg Newfoundland dog pulls 2293-kg load, Bothell, Washington
  • 1980-04-12 Terry Fox begins his "Marathon of Hope" at St. John's, Newfoundland
  • 1982-02-15 Ocean Ranger oil-drilling platform lost off Newfoundland, 84 die
  • 1985-09-01 US-French expedition locates wreckage of Titanic off Newfoundland
  • 1985-12-12 DC-8 crashes near Gander, Newfoundland; 258 die
  • 2001-12-06 The Canadian province of Newfoundland is renamed Newfoundland and Labrador

Famous Birthdays

  • 1738-04-16 Henry Clinton, British army officer and politician, born in Newfoundland, British Canada (d. 1795)
  • 1753-07-09 William Waldegrave, 1st Baron Radstock, Governor of Newfoundland, born in England (d. 1825)
  • 1865-02-28 Wilfred Grenfell, British medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador, born in Neston, England (d. 1940)

Cluny MacPherson

1879-03-18 Cluny MacPherson, Canadian doctor and inventor of the gas mask, born in St. John's, Newfoundland (d. 1966)

  • 1900-12-24 Joey Smallwood, Canadian politician (Premier of Newfoundland), born in (d. 1991)
  • 1930-07-12 Gordon Pinsent, Canadian actor, director, writer, and voice of "Babar the elephant", born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland
  • 1937-11-09 Clyde Wells, Canadian politician, 5th Premier of Newfoundland, born in Buchans Junction, Newfoundland
  • 1954-10-21 Brian Tobin, Canadian premier of Newfoundland
  • 1957-03-10 Shannon Lee Tweed, Canadian actress and Playboy playmate (Nov 1981, Playmate of the Year 1982), born in St Johns, Newfoundland

Famous Deaths

Francis Drake

1596-01-28 Francis Drake, English pirate, Admiral and Governor of Newfoundland (Porto Bello West Indies), dies of dysentery at 50

  • 1780-05-18 Charles Hardy, British governor of Newfoundland, dies at 66
  • 1825-08-20 William Waldegrave, 1st Baron Radstock, Governor of Newfoundland, dies at 72
  • 1940-10-09 Wilfred Grenfell, British medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador, dies at 75
  • 2005-11-12 William G. Adams, former mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada (b. 1923)
  • 2008-02-23 Douglas Fraser, Scottish pilot, first to land at Newfoundland Airport on January 11, 1938 (b. 1916)