Great Canadian Parks / Newfoundland

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The Parks / Newfoundland & Labrador / Cape St Mary's Ecological Reserve



 

Over a period of at least 6000 years, the land was home to the Beothuk native people of the Woodland group. John Cabot’s reports of the abundance of fish in the waters off Newfoundland encouraged Portuguese, Basque and Norman fishermen to make migratory voyages, which netted vast stocks of cod, turbot and halibut along the south coast of the Avalon Peninsula. In 1662, the French, alarmed by the perceived threat of an English attack on their St. Lawrence holdings, built fortifications at Plaisance to guard the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. Skirmishes around the French fort continued until 1713 when the Treaty of Utrecht awarded Newfoundland to Britain. Thousands of settlers, predominantly Irish fleeing from religious persecution, civil unrest and the potato famine, were attracted to the fertile, steep-sided valleys where isolation made it possible to practise their faith openly. By 1824, when the island became an official British colony, Cape St. Mary was well known as a fishery that was so rewarding it would compensate any fisherman for a poor summer experienced on home ground. After five centuries of almost limitless bounty, the waters of coastal Newfoundland are virtually empty today, their overfished stocks the subject of bitter international dispute.

 

 

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