NEWFOUNDLAND, the newest and most easterly province of Canada, was actually the first to be discovered and settled. For several decades it ranked as one of the Dominions of the British Commonwealth but in 1934, because of economic difficulties, it reverted to the status of a British Colony. In 1949, Newfoundland became the tenth province in the Canadian Confederation. The Province consists of two main geographic units, the island of Newfoundland, itself, and the dependent mainland territory of Labrador, comprising a total area of about 153,000 square miles ( Fig. 23 ). We shall deal with these two sections separately.
Newfoundland Position and Area
Newfoundland is a large island, having an area of 42,734 square miles and located between 46°36′ and 51°39′ north latitude and between 52° 37′ and 59°24′ west longitude. It is separated from the Island of Cape Breton by Cabot Strait, about 60 miles in width, and from Labrador by the Strait of Belle Isle which is about 12 miles wide at its narrowest part. The island forms the eastern rim of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and is normally the first landfall of navigators from Europe to North America.
Structure and Relief
In general, the landforms of Newfoundland have much in common with those of the Maritime Provinces. Though rather rugged, the country possesses no areas of great relief except the Long Range parallel to the western coasts. Here the summits reach an elevation of more than 2,600 feet. As in Nova Scotia the major physiographic features are determined by a series of very old, worn-down fold-ridges with axes trending from northeast to southwest. Newfoundland is therefore to be regarded as a part of the Appalachian physiographic province of North America.
In common with Nova Scotia, also, Newfoundland is underlain by very old rocks. Rocks of Precambrian age are found in the Long Range and in the southeast corner of the island including the Avalon peninsula. In the west they are predominantly granites, schists and gneisses while in the east are great thicknesses of slates, quartzites, sandstones and conglomerates and a variety of volcanic rocks. The central part of the island is underlain by Paleozoic rocks which are for the most part of Ordovician age. Toward the north these are commonly sedimentary sandstones, shales and limestones, while toward the south these are wide-spread areas of such igneous rocks as granite and diorite. In the St. George's Bay and White Bay depressions, rocks of Carboniferous age are preserved. These also are sandstones, shales and limestones containing coal, gypsum and oil shale.