Newfoundland and Labrador Cultural Groups

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According to the 2001 Canadian census, the largest ethnic group in Newfoundland and Labrador is English (39.4%), followed by Irish (19.7%), Scots (6.0%), French (5.5%), and First Nations (3.2%). [1] See also, Demographics of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Acadians[edit | edit source]


Although Newfoundland was not part of Acadia, during the expulsion of the Acadians and their subsequent return, some Acadians settled in western Newfoundland.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1673-1784 - The Drouin Collection Database, a collection of parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) from Quebec, Acadia, as well as parts of Ontario, New Brunswick and the United States. The collection also contains Acadian censuses from 1673 to 1784. ($)
  • 1621-1849 - The Acadia Families Tool This tool contains family files based on the Acadian parish records mentioned above. In total, the tool contains 96,000 family files from 1621 to 1849 and is equipped with a search engine which allows searches by last name, first name, date and parish. In addition, the original records are attached to the family files, allowing the information contained in them to be viewed and verified.($)
This list of approximately 300 family names was drawn from parish records, census records and other documents from Acadia/Nova Scotia in the first half of the 18th century. All Acadian civilian families known to have lived in the colony at any time between 1700 and 1755 are included. This list does not include the families of the French garrison which served in Acadia.

Basque[edit | edit source]

See also, History of Basque Whaling: Newfoundland and Labrador
In 1497, European explorers and fishermen from England, Portugal, France, Holland and Spain (mainly Basques) began exploration of Newfoundland. Basque sailors were whaling and fishing around Newfoundland beginning in 1525 and ending around 1626. Basque Canadians are Canadian citizens of Basque descent, or Basque people who were born in the Basque Country and reside in Canada. As of 2016, 6,965 people claimed Basque ancestry. [2]

Beothuk[edit | edit source]

The Beothuk was a group of indigenous people who lived on the island of Newfoundland. The Beothuk lived throughout the island of Newfoundland, particularly in the Notre Dame and Bonavista Bay areas. Estimates vary as to the number of Beothuk at the time of contact with Europeans. Scholars of the 19th and early 20th century estimated about 2,000 individuals at the time of European contact in the 15th century. There is purportedly good evidence that there may have been no more than 500 to 700 people. They lived in independent, self-sufficient, extended family groups of 30 to 55 people.
Intermittently, Europeans attempted to improve relations with the Beothuk. The Beothuks avoided Europeans in Newfoundland by moving inland from their traditional settlements. First, they emigrated to different coastal areas of Newfoundland, places the Europeans did not have fish-camps, but they were over-run. Then, they emigrated to inland Newfoundland. During the colonial period, the Beothuk people also endured territorial pressure from Native groups: Mi'kmaq migrants from Cape Breton Island, and Inuit from Labrador. The Beothuk were unable to procure sufficient subsistence within the areas left to them.nThey entered into a cycle of violence with some of the newcomers. Beothuk numbers dwindled rapidly due to a combination of factors, including:

  • loss of access to important food sources, from the competition with Inuit and Mi'kmaq as well as European settlers;
  • infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, such as smallpox, introduced by European contact;
  • endemic tuberculosis (TB), which weakened tribal members; and
  • violent encounters with trappers, settlers, and other natives.


By 1829, the people were declared extinct. Oral histories suggest a few Beothuk survived around the region of the Exploits River, Twillingate, Newfoundland; and Labrador; and formed unions with European colonists, Inuit and Mi'kmaq. Some families from Twillingate claim descent from the Beothuk people of the early 19th century.[3]

First Nations[edit | edit source]

More than 100,000 Newfoundlanders have applied for membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band, equivalent to one-fifth of the total population. Miawpukek First Nation is a Mi'kmaq First Nations band government in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, with a registered population of 834 living on-reserve as of September 2019, with another 2,223 living off-reserve. They control the reserve of Samiajij Miawpukek in Bay d'Espoir on the island of Newfoundland. [4]

Irish[edit | edit source]

As early as the middle of the 16th century, Irish fishermen from the south of Ireland frequently traveled to Newfoundland for part of their catch. Between 1770 and 1780 more than 100 ships and thousands of people left Irish ports for the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. These migrations were some of the most substantial movements of Irish people across the Atlantic in the 18th century. Over the years they created a distinctive subculture in Newfoundland and Labrador and their descendants carried on many of their traditions. In certain places around the province, Irish culture is still richly evident. Newfoundland and Labrador has often been dubbed the “most Irish place outside of Ireland”.[5]

Loyalists[edit | edit source]

Given the Newfoundland colony's isolation from the more southern British Thirteen Colonies in North America (and also from the still loyal colony of Nova Scotia, which provided a buffer), it did not become involved in their colonial rebellion of the 1770s. After the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783 with the independence of the United States, Newfoundland Colony became part of British North America. The Crown resettled some Loyalists in Newfoundland, but most were given land in Nova Scotia and present-day Ontario.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Newfoundland and Labrador", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfoundland_and_Labrador, accessed 18 December 2020.
  2. "Basque Canadians", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_Canadians, accessed 25 December 2020.
  3. "Beothuk", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beothuk, accessed 25 December 2020,
  4. "Newfoundland and Labrador", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfoundland_and_Labrador, and "Miawpukek First Nation", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miawpukek_First_Nation, accessed 18 December 2020.
  5. "Five Reasons Why Newfoundland & Labrador is the Most Irish Place Outside of Ireland" at Newfoundland and Labrador Canada, https://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/trip-ideas/travel-stories/five-reasons-why-newfoundland-and-labrador-is-the-most-irish-place-outside-ireland, accessed 25 December 2020.
  6. "Newfoundland Colony", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfoundland_Colony, accessed 25 December 2020.