Newfoundland in 1950
The 1950 edition of Collier’s Yearbook covered events of the previous year. Charles P. Barry supervised the work, which was, he stated, “prepared by leading authorities.” It was published by P. F. Collier & Son Corporation in New York.
Editorial director Frank W. Price suggested, “ if the tone here is less pessimistic (than the two previous editions), or contains an absence of any specific feeling, it is probably because the world is becoming acclimated to its atmosphere of uncertainty.”
Meanwhile, Price assured readers “ the editorial policy behind this book is based on impartiality. It has been compiled by writers and editors who are noted for their intellectual objectivity. We are confident that the reader will find our contention justified.”
The entry on Newfoundland, written by Maxwell S. Stewart, is a test case.
We are told Newfoundland covers an area of 42,734 square miles. The island, including Labrador, had a population of 321,177 in 1950. Labrador itself, with an area of 110,000 square miles, had an estimated population of 5,530 at the time.
Steward wrote about Newfoundland under four headings.
First, union with Canada: “After nearly three centuries as a colony of Great Britain, Newfoundland officially became a part of the Dominion of Canada at midnight, Mar. 31, 1949.
“ The decision to accept Newfoundland as the tenth province of the Canadian Federation had been made on July 30 of the previous year, when Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King issued a formal statement welcoming the results of the July 22 plebiscite, in which Newfoundland had voted for confederation by a small margin.
“A formal agreement embodying this decision was signed on Dec. 11, 1948.
“ The agreement was ratified by the Canadian Parliament in Feb. 1949, and on Mar. 2 the British House of Commons completed the legal steps necessary for the transfer by voting 217 to 15 to permit Britain’s oldest colony, and the first British possession to have fully responsible government, to be affiliated with the Dominion of Canada.
“ Under the agreement for adherence, Canada paid a large subsidy to the island and assumed responsibility for Newfoundland’s social services. The total cost to the Dominion for the current year was estimated at more than $ 50,000,000.”
Second, elections: “An election to choose the leg- islature of the new province was held on May 27. The Liberals gained a substantial majority of the 28-seat legislature, but in St. John’s, capital of the province, the Progressive Conservatives won easily.
“ This result indicated that the capital was still strongly opposed to confederation. As in the previous year, however, the areas outside St. John’s outvoted the capital, thus indicating continued support for union with Canada.
“ In the first national election in which it participated after confederation, held on June 27, Newfoundland elected five Liberals and two Progressive Conservatives to the Canadian House of Commons.
“ When the Newfoundland representatives took their seats at the opening of Parliament on Sept. 15, they were greeted by a spirited round of applause from the other members of the House.
“ On Aug. 17, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent of the Dominion government announced the appointment of Sir Leonard Outerbridge of St. John’s as lieutenant-governor of the new province. The lieutenant-governor serves as the representative of the Crown as the titular head of the provincial government.”
Third, air bases: “As a result of Newfoundland’s union with Canada, a new air agreement between the United States and Canada was required. American rights to the air bases in Newfoundland had rested on wartime agreements with Great Britain and were reviewed in the light of past agreements between the U. S. and Canada.
“ Under the agreement signed at Washington on June 5, Canadian pickup rights at the American-built Gander airfield were confirmed, and the bases at Stephenville and Argentia, built under the destroyers-for-bases agreement with Great Britain, were opened to Canadian and other commercial traffic.”
Fourth, iron: “ Premier Joseph Smallwood announced on Nov. 26 details of the iron-ore mining development soon to be launched in Labrador. He predicted that the mines soon would be producing 10,000,000 tons of iron ore a year.”
One photograph accompanied Stewart’s entry: F. Gordon Bradley, new Canadian Secretary of State and Newfoundland’s first representative in the Dominion Cabinet, during ceremonies in Ottawa welcoming Newfoundland as a province of Canada. Viscount Alexander of Tunis, Governor General, was also pictured.
To his credit, overall, Stewart got straight his facts about Newfoundland’s entry into the Canadian Dominion.