Welcome to Newfoundland
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
For Canadians tomorrow will be a day of welcome. For this is the day when a tenth province is added to the Dominion of Canada. There will be a greater meaning than ever to the Canadian motto, chosen by Sir Leonard Tilley from the words of Isaiah which describes the dominion that reaches "from sea to sea".
Indeed Canadian territory now reaches out towards the heart of the Atlantic . For Newfoundland it is a great and historic stepping-stone between the old world and the new, being almost as near to the port of Liverpool as it is to the port of Montreal .
It is this very position that explains its importance down through its long history. It was the first land in the new world that explorers from England sought to colonize. Its Grand Banks brought fisherman from Britain, and their almost epic journeys over the Atlantic, and their battling with the hazards of the sea, made Newfoundland the traditional and natural training ground for the Royal Navy.
It was just because Newfoundland reached forth over the ocean to connect the two worlds that it became the point from which the great cable was laid in the 1850's, and from which the first wireless messages were sent over the sea, and from which the earliest transoceanic flights by air were made. And with the searching tests of the Second World War, it was the bases in Newfoundland that carried strategic meaning of the island into new service.
There is something singularly fitting in the fact that Newfoundland joins its destinies with those of the Dominion of Canada at the very time when the Dominion of Canada is joining its destinies with the free nations of the Atlantic, in a pact of union and common purpose, For Newfoundland, from the very first, has been almost the central point for the endeavors and the struggles to realize the inherent unity of the Atlantic world.
It is true that the very uniqueness of Newfoundland's position has brought, in times past, some degree of isolation from the settlements on the mainland of British North America . But this is an isolation that belongs to the past, rather than to the present, or to the future. The conquest of space has been making the world smaller. It has brought more and more into reality and into consciousness the geographical unity of areas that were once thought hopelessly divided by barriers of space.
Indeed the mood of this time should be, above all else, a mood of fulfillment. What tomorrow comes to completion in an event long awaited. Delegates from Newfoundland were among those who attended the conference at Quebec in 1864, when the terms of confederation were drafted. And though the union with Newfoundland is only now consummated, provision for Newfoundland 's entry into the Dominion was provided at that historic conference. So it was with appropriate symbolism that the agreement of union was signed at Ottawa last autumn when pen dipped in the same ink-well which the Fathers of Confederation had used more than 80 years ago.
For Newfoundland, no less than for Canada , the union should mean fulfillment and not loss. All the precious conditions and distinctive qualities of life which Newfoundland has cherished through the centuries of its life may now be preserved within the larger union - a union in which the other provinces also cherish and preserve the heritage of their own past.
For all Canadians the coming of Newfoundland into the partnership should bring a renewed understanding of the distinctiveness that is as much part of Canadian citizenship and character, as is the variety of its scenery and geography.
The interest and strength of the pattern of Canadian life lie in the authentic freedom with which each portion has been created. To this richly varied Canadian pattern Newfoundland has much to give. While it takes its place within the whole, and completes the common destiny, it will add most to the common Canadian citizenship by cherishing and preserving all that is old and fine and hallowed in its own historic life.
For the very diversities of Canadianism, under its federal system, become the enriching possessions of all, and tolerance, arising from independence, forms unity.
Source : "Welcome to Newfoundland ", editorial, Montreal Gazette, March 31, 1949, p. 8.
Return to Canadian Views of Newfoundland's Entrance into Confederation
© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College