Far on the eastern side of Canada, reaching the furthest east of all North America, lies the rocky island of Newfoundland. On the mainland to the west, across the Strait of Belle Isle, lies it’s counterpart, Labrador.
It wasn’t until I came to live on the east coast of Canada that I realized how isolated Newfoundland is from the mainland of Canada. Getting to St. John’s by boat is an 11 hour ferry ride from the northern tip of Nova Scotia. If you want to visit the western side of Newfoundland, it is still a 6 hour ferry ride. Going by air from Halifax is almost as far as going from Halifax to Toronto. And some places along the rocky coastline are still only accessible by boat.
Newfoundland is sometimes called “The Rock” because it is mostly rock. It is part of the old Appalachian mountain chain that also includes Nova Scotia, the Gaspe and eastern United States. In times past, glaciers scraped most of the soil off and pushed it into the ocean. Although this certainly decreased the possibility of agriculture, it helped to build up the Grand Banks off the coast which made for good fishing.
Along the southwest side of Newfoundland is a range of rounded mountains, called the Long Range Mountains. The tallest mountain in this range is Gros Morne at 806 metres. Gros Morne National Park is about halfway up the coast and is known for its amazing fjords (long, narrow, deep sea inlets created by glaciers) and breath-taking views of steep gorges and lakes. Most of the rest of Newfoundland is a highland plateau sloping down to the coastal lowlands. It is a land of forests strewn with ridges and hummocks of rock, thousands of lakes, ponds, streams and bogs.
Labrador, on the mainland of Canada, is part of the Canadian Shield. Only five percent of Newfoundland and Labrador’s population live here. The south is covered in thick forests of black spruce and balsam fir. The north is treeless tundra where the ground is permanently frozen. On the far northern tip lie the Torngat Mountains, with Mount Caubvick reaching a height of 1652 metres. A mighty river runs through Labrador on it’s way to the sea called the Churchill. At one time Churchill Falls was an amazing 75 metre waterfall, higher than Niagara Falls. However, it is now the site of one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.
It is mostly cold in Labrador. During the summer it usually has highs of only 15-20 degrees Celsius and during the winter can reach lows of -45. Newfoundland on the other hand is slightly warmer and wetter. The capital city, St. John’s, on Newfoundland’s east coast is known to be the foggiest major city in Canada, as well as the snowiest, wettest, windiest and cloudiest! The fog is caused by the frigid air coming down with the Arctic current and meeting the warm air over the Gulf Stream.
PROJECT: Find Newfoundland, Labrador, the Strait of Belle Isle, Churchill Falls, and St. John’s on a map.
SIGHTSEEING: For some beautiful photos of Newfoundland and other places on the east coast of Canada, you might like to visit this blog: simplelifebyus.blogspot.ca