Frequently Asked Questions
Travelling Around Newfoundland and Labrador
Yes. While this place is certainly off the beaten path, lots of people want to visit Newfoundland and Labrador at the very same time as you, particularly in the busy summer season. That's why it's always a good idea to make car rental reservations before you travel to avoid being disappointed. Pre-booking your accommodations, airline and ferry crossings is also recommended.
Be sure to visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Transportation and Works website to find the latest highway driving conditions so you can keep track of highway construction slowdowns, winter driving conditions and other important transportation factors.
Newfoundland and Labrador uses the same driving system exercised by the rest of Canada and the United States. Vehicles keep to the right side of roadways and highways and drivers are expected to abide by road rules and regulations. The main exception is on highways where a passing lane ends: the driver in the centre lane must yield to the driver in the right-hand lane.
Drivers must carry a valid driver's licence, Vehicle Registration Certificate, and Proof of Liability Insurance Coverage in order to drive in Newfoundland and Labrador. Legislation requires that motorists carry lump-sum public liability and property damage insurance of $200,000. In case of accident involving personal injury, proof of such insurance must be produced within 24 hours, or driving privileges could be suspended. The driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts and cellphone and smartphone use is prohibited unless a hands-free device is used. A child weighing less than nine kilograms (20 pounds) must be secured in either an infant carrier or a convertible car seat adjusted to the rear-facing position. The driver is responsible for ensuring all passengers under the age of 16 are properly restrained by seat belts. Radar detectors are illegal in our province. It is also illegal to drive with a blood alcohol limit exceeding .05 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood.
Watch out for Moose
Drivers using roadways and highways in our province should keep their eyes open for moose. There are about 120,000 moose on the island of Newfoundland, and most highways go through moose habitat. Moose are great to look at – from a distance. If you see one of these large, brown, hoofed animals on or near a roadway, use extreme caution: slow down and prepare to stop. Like all wild animals, moose are unpredictable. Be sure that a moose has gone back into the forest before resuming your drive. Also, if you see a vehicle stopped on or near the highway, the driver may have spotted a moose, so be cautious and slow down. Avoid driving at night if possible as moose/vehicle accidents occur between dusk and dawn. If you must drive at night, slow down. Scan both sides of the highway with your lights on high beam unless you are overtaking traffic, and pay attention to highway signs. A road sign with a picture of a moose or a warning that says "Caution, moose next 'X' kilometres" means moose cross there frequently.
Caution is also required when driving in winter. Slippery road conditions, drifting and blowing snow can sometimes make driving treacherous. When road conditions are not optimal, it is imperative that you slow down and use caution while driving. Increase the amount of space between yourself and cars you are following, and be aware of other drivers. During the winter months, all primary highways are kept open except for short periods during or immediately after a severe snowstorm. For information on road conditions, use the Highway Cameras from the Department of Transportation and Works and Weather Forecasts located on our Weather & Climate page.
St. Pierre and Miquelon is the French territory 19 kilometers from the Burin Peninsula, on the south coast of the island of Newfoundland. You can reach St. Pierre and Miquelon by ferry or air.
There is a passenger ferry from Fortune - no automobiles. Reservations are recommended at all times.
SPM Tours of Fortune offers a booking service for the ferry and hotels on St. Pierre. Reservations are required.
Toll Free: 1-800-563-2006
The government of St. Pierre operates the Le Cabestan ferry. This crossing takes 55 minutes and operates year round. From early July to mid-September the boat runs daily. At other times it runs at least twice a week. From early July to mid-September there’s an early sailing from Fortune at 9:15 am.
Toll free: 855-832-3455
Please note that St. Pierre Time is half an hour ahead of Newfoundland Time. So, when it’s 2:15 p.m. in St. Pierre, it’s 1:45 p.m. in Fortune.
If you want to fly to St. Pierre, Air St. Pierre offers scheduled service from St. John’s, Sydney, Halifax and Montreal.
Toll free: 877-277-7765
St. Pierre et Miquelon, a part of France, is only 19 kilometres from Fortune, Newfoundland and Labrador. For information on travel and customs regulations, call their tourist office at 1-800-565-5118, or visit www.tourisme-saint-pierre-et-miquelon.com. If you visit St. Pierre et Miquelon, you'll have to clear Canadian Customs in Fortune upon your return. Canadians visiting for short periods of time do not require a passport, but must show a valid driver's licence, citizenship card, permanent resident card, student card, or a social insurance card with an embedded photo. Americans must show valid passports.
To avoid disappointment, you should book accommodations, car rentals, flights, and ferries in advance, particularly for travel in the busy summer season. For more information visit the Getting Here and Getting Around pages of our website.
At present, American citizens and permanent residents of the United States do not need a passport to visit Canada, but should carry a birth, baptismal or voter's certificate, or other documents establishing their citizenship. Naturalized U.S. citizens should carry evidence of citizenship, such as a naturalization certificate. However, re-entry to the U.S. requires a passport, passport card, or a trusted traveller card, such as a Nexus card. Please consult the U.S. Department of State website for full details. Visitors from other countries must have valid national passports, and visitors from certain countries also require a visa. For a list of visa-exempt countries, go to www.canadainternational.gc.ca.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a province of Canada, so Canadian customs rules apply. There are a couple of non-customs agricultural regulations that are different than other provinces you should be aware of:
You can bring your cat, dog, or horse to Newfoundland and Labrador without a permit, and they can be moved freely between Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the importation of non-indigenous animals is restricted, as is the movement of Labrador Huskies from Labrador to Newfoundland. For more information on Canadian Customs regulations, please see www.canadainternational.gc.ca.
Neither soil nor plants bearing soil may be removed from Newfoundland because of the possibility of accidentally spreading soil-borne diseases from certain areas. Vehicles leaving Newfoundland are inspected at the ferry terminals, and soil and plants are subject to confiscation. Special permits for removing plants under strict conditions may be obtained from Agriculture Canada. For more information about soils and plants, please contact (709) 695-2135 or (summer) (709) 727-2307.
All visitors to Canada are strongly urged to obtain health insurance before leaving their home country. Canadian hospital and medical services are excellent, but a hospital stay can cost in excess of $750 a day, and the cost of an extended stay can be prohibitive. Be sure you are covered. If you are a resident of Canada, you should carry your provincial or territorial Health Care card just in case you need medical attention. If you are taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, it is a good idea to make a list of what you are taking in case of emergency, and bring along a copy of your prescription in the event that you need to have it renewed by a doctor in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Canadian dollar is the currency used in Newfoundland and Labrador. Many operators and retailers will accept American dollars, but not always at the official exchange rate. Businesses do not accept other foreign currencies, and there is no currency exchange house in the province. Banks do not normally exchange foreign currencies, so we recommend that you convert your national currency into Canadian dollars before you leave home.
If you would like to see how your currency converts, we recommend using the currency converter located at www.xe.com.
The island of Newfoundland occupies its own time zone, know as Newfoundland Time. It is half an hour later than Atlantic Time, and a full hour and a half later than Eastern Standard Time or 3.5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-3:30). Most of Labrador occupies the Atlantic Time Zone; however, the area from L'Anse-au-Claire to Black Tickle operates on Newfoundland Time.
The island of Newfoundland has a temperate marine climate. Winters are usually mild with a normal temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. Summer days range from cool to hot, with a normal temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. Good swimming weather generally begins at the end of June. The normal annual rainfall is 1,050 mm and the normal snowfall is 300 cm. Labrador winters are much colder than those on the island. While summers are shorter and generally cooler, extreme high temperatures are not uncommon in Labrador. For more information visit or Weather & Climate page.
Depending on when you plan to visit, there are some essentials you should bring with you or buy once you get here.
Our weather has been known to be variable, so bring appropriate apparel for your itinerary. Our temperatures are usually mild in comparison to other parts of Canada, but vary a great deal from day to day, and sometimes hour to hour. For this reason, it is best to pack clothing that you can layer, and a light bag to carry it in for your day trips.
In winter, you will be thankful for a warm coat, hat and mittens. A warm pair of shoes or boots that do not leak will ensure that you won't be hindered by slush, snow and ice.
For summer travel, don't forget your swimsuit, sunscreen and sandals for your trips to our sandy or pebble beaches. In spring, summer and fall, a raincoat is always a good idea.
Comfortable footwear is important if you plan on walking at any time of the year. We've been nicknamed "The Rock" and "The Big Land" for good reason! If you plan to explore, make sure your shoes are ready to explore with you.
If you are interested in indulging in our outdoor adventures, our tour operators will be happy to supply you with the gear required at any time of year. Call ahead or ask your travel agent to find out what equipment is available to you.
When you make a reservation, it's always a good idea to ask the operator about the cancellation of deposits, what credit cards are accepted, and the establishment's policies on refunds and late arrivals. Some seasonal operators may have a minimum-stay policy in effect, while others do not accept credit cards. If you are asked to pay in advance, it's always a good idea to ask to see the room first.
HST stands for Harmonized Sales Tax. This 13% tax is charged on goods and services purchased in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Establishments in Newfoundland and Labrador listed as "wheelchair accessible" meet the minimum requirements as set out in the provincial Buildings Accessibility Act and Regulations. These establishments have a main entrance, and, where provided, public washrooms that an individual in a wheelchair can access unassisted. Hotels, motels, cottages and bed-and-breakfast establishments with the accessibility designation have a wheelchair-accessible room or suite, but there are no guarantees all the establishment's facilities could be accessed by wheelchair users. Some have only a limited number of wheelchair-accessible rooms, so reservations should be made. Also, many establishments not listed as accessible may provide acceptable facilities, depending on individual needs.
About Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the most easterly province in Canada and lies between the 46th and 61st parallels with the bulk of the island portion being below the 50th parallel. The island portion is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the larger Labrador portion is attached to the eastern part of the Canadian mainland.
Newfoundland and Labrador has an area of 405,720 km². It is more than three times the total area of the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) and would rank fourth in size behind Alaska, Texas and California if it were one of the United States.
We're almost one-and-three-quarter times the size of Great Britain. The island of Newfoundland covers an area of 111,390 km², while Labrador has an area of 294,330 km².
Visit our interactive map of Newfoundland and Labrador for further details.
Newfoundland and Labrador's water area is 34,030 km² in size.
Newfoundland and Labrador observes nine federal holidays. Most stores and offices are required to close under the Shops Closing Act. Those holidays include:
- New Year's Day – January 1
- Good Friday – Friday before Easter Sunday
- Victoria Day – Monday on or before May 24
- Canada Day – July 1
- Labour Day – First Monday in September
- Thanksgiving Day – Second Monday in October
- Remembrance Day – November 11
- Christmas Day – December 25
- Boxing Day – December 26
Other traditional holidays include:
- St. Patrick's Day – March 17
- St. George's Day – April 23
- Discovery Day – June 24
- Orangemen's Day – July 12
On these holidays, stores are not required to close, although many offices do close on the closest Monday to the actual date in celebration of the holiday.
In addition to the foregoing holidays, the Shops Closing Act sets the following for observance as holidays:
- Regatta Day (City of St. John's) – the first Wednesday in August
- Regatta Day (Town of Harbour Grace)
- Any day fixed as a public holiday in any other municipality
St. John's, located on the eastern tip of Newfoundland's Avalon region, is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. The city's population is 151,322, while the metro area population – which includes the surrounding areas of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, Torbay, Flatrock, Pouch Cove, Bauline, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Petty Harbour, Maddox Cove, Bay Bulls and Witless Bay – is about 181,000.
Other major centres include:
- Corner Brook – population 19,976
- Gander – population 9,410
- Grand Falls – population 12,471
- Happy Valley-Goose Bay – population 6,583
- Labrador City – population 8,979
Source: Census 2006
|Bay Roberts 10,180||Clarenville-Shoal Harbour 3,873|
|Bishop's Falls 3,326||Deer Lake 3,971|
|Bonavista 3,535||Lewisporte 2,846|
|Botwood 3,052||Marystown 3,825|
|Burgeo 1,602||Springdale 2,764|
|Carbonear 7,199||St. Anthony 2,442|
|Channel-Port aux Basques 4,113||Stephenville 6,294|
Source: Census 2006
The population of Newfoundland and Labrador is 509,677.
Source: Census 2006
Newfoundland and Labrador uses the Canadian dollar as its currency. You can find the exchange rate for your currency using the currency converter located at www.xe.com
From 1834 to 1949, however, Newfoundland issued its own coinage and bank notes, which are now valuable collectors' items. The coin denominations issued were 1 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 25 cent, 50 cent, 2 dollar and gold. You can purchase Newfoundland coins from many coin dealers.
Anyone can learn about family history in Newfoundland and Labrador with the help of the Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, a volunteer non-profit organization founded in 1984 and incorporated in 1987. Its Genealogical Resource Centre provides access to historical databases and acts as an information service for genealogical researchers. It also provides information on archives and heritage organizations across the province.
Membership is open to anyone researching their Newfoundland ancestry, and members receive a quarterly journal called The Newfoundland Ancestor. Indexing projects include parish registers, cemetery transcriptions, census records and family histories compiled and maintained by volunteers all over North America. Collections available include genealogical reference books, family histories, cemetery transcripts, genealogical periodicals, directories and censuses.
Newfoundland and Labrador Trivia
Are the Newfoundland Dog and the Labrador Retriever Newfoundland and Labrador's official dog breeds?
The Newfoundland Dog
Remember Nana, the gentle, child-friendly dog in Peter Pan? Well she was actually based on a Newfoundland Dog, which was a particularly popular breed among the middle and upper classes in England at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
The Newfoundland is a large, strong dog with a heavy coat to protect it from icy winds and waters. Its feet are large, strong, webbed and well-suited to swimming and travelling over marshes and shorelines. It has powerful hindquarters and a large lung capacity, which enables it to swim for great distances. The best-known traits of the Newfoundland Dog are intelligence, loyalty and a sweet temperament.
The Newfoundland Dog is as much at home in the water as on dry land. Canine literature gives us stories of brave Newfoundlands which have rescued men and women from watery graves; stories of shipwrecks made less terrible by dogs that carried life lines to stricken vessels; of children who have fallen into deep water and have been brought safely ashore by Newfoundlands; and of dogs who helped their fishermen owners with their heavy nets and performed other tasks necessary to their occupations. Although it is a superior water dog, the Newfoundland has been and still is used in Newfoundland and Labrador as a true working dog, hauling carts, or more often carrying burdens like a small pack horse.
For the most part, however, the Newfoundland Dog is mainly kept not as a worker, but as a companion, guard and friend. We appreciate the sterling traits of the true Newfoundland disposition. The breed has the great size and strength of an effective guard and watchdog, combined with the gentleness which makes it a safe companion. For generations it has been the traditional children's protector and playmate.
The Labrador Retriever
Like its cousin the Newfoundland Dog, the Labrador Retriever is a water dog (both have webbed toes). But while the classic Newfoundland Dog is a wooly, mammoth of a dog, the Lab has a sleek, waterproof coat that comes in black, yellow and chocolate.
The Lab is more-or-less compact at 53 to 61 centimetres tall, but it's a very powerful animal for its weight of 25-34 kilos. It can pull a small, loaded cart a long distance, or jump into the water to retrieve – hence the name – a fisherman's net, or waterfowl destined for the dinner plate. The tapered, otter-like tail helps it steer itself through the water. It's an easily trained guide for the seeing impaired. Its intelligence, strength, loyalty and pleasant demeanor is a winning combination for such a task. Its keen nose makes it a good police dog, and its strength makes it ideal for search and rescue operations, especially in water.
The Lab was, ironically, first bred on the island of Newfoundland, and came to the attention of European dog fanciers as a passenger aboard ships plying the North Atlantic between the Old Colony and Britain in the early 19th century. Named Labrador Retriever to avoid confusion with the Newfoundland Dog, and after a century of honing its natural retrieving instincts, it was recognized as a separate breed by the English Kennel Club in 1904, and by its American equivalent a decade later.
Newfoundland and Labrador's coat of arms was officially adopted by the Newfoundland Government on January 1, 1928. The coat of arms was granted in 1637, but was unknown to authorities in Newfoundland until almost 300 years later.
The cross is based upon the cross of St. George, but of a different colour. The lions and unicorns are based upon those in the Arms of England, to which the unicorn had been added at the time of the union of England with Scotland.
The shield is surmounted by an elk and supported on either side by people representative of the now extinct Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland. The translation of the motto along the bottom is "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."
The provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador is the Atlantic puffin (fratercula arctica), also known as the Sea Parrot or Baccalieu Bird. About 95% of all North America's puffins breed in colonies around the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts. As people with strong marine heritage, it is appropriate to have a marine bird as our symbol.
In this flag, the primary colours of red, gold and blue are placed against a background of white to allow the design to stand out clearly. White is representative of snow and ice; blue represents the sea; red represents human effort; and gold represents our confidence in ourselves.
The blue section, most reminiscent of the Union Jack, represents our Commonwealth heritage, which has so decisively shaped our present. The red and gold section, larger than the other, represents our future. The two triangles outlined in red portray the mainland and island parts of our province reaching forward together. A golden arrow points the way to what we believe will be a bright future. Surrounded by red to indicate human effort, the arrow suggests that our future is for the making and not the taking. But the design of the flag encompasses much more symbolism than this, such as the Christian Cross, the Beothuk and Naskapi ornamentation, the outline of the maple leaf in the centre of the flag, a triumphant figure and our place in the space age. The image of a trident stands out. This is to emphasize our continued dependence on the fishery and the resources of the sea. Hung as a banner, the arrow assumes the aspect of a sword, which is to remind us of the sacrifice of our War Veterans. Since the whole flag resembles a Beothuk pendant, as well as all of the above, the design takes us from our earliest beginnings and points us confidently forward. It, therefore, mirrors our past, present and future. The flag, designed by artist Christopher Pratt, was officially adopted on June 6, 1980.
Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial floral emblem is the pitcher plant (sarracenia purpurea). This fascinating plant gets its nourishment from insects that get trapped and drown in a pool of water at the base of the tubular leaves. The flower is wine and green in colour and can be found on bogs and marshes in Newfoundland and Labrador.
More than a hundred years ago, Queen Victoria chose the Pitcher Plant to be engraved on a newly minted Newfoundland penny. In 1954, the Newfoundland Cabinet designated this unusual and interesting plant as the official flower of the province.
Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial mineral emblem is Labradorite. One of the most beautiful and popular of the "semi-precious" stones, Labradorite is found at a number of locations on the coast of Labrador and on the Island of Newfoundland. It is an igneous iridescent crystalline mineral, and is also called Labrador Feldspar.
It is said that the native people of Labrador attributed mystical qualities to the stone because of its captivating play of colours, or "labradoresence." They called it "firestone" and used a powder produced by pulverizing it as a magical potion to cure their ailments. A tumble-polished fragment makes an ideal touchstone or talisman, and a beautifully shaped and polished cabochon set in gold or silver is a highly-sought jewellery item in any collection.
Labradorite was declared the province's mineral emblem in 1975. Labradorite is one of about 20 semi-precious stones found in the province.
Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial anthem is the "Ode to Newfoundland" by Sir Cavendish Boyle. The song is as follows:
When sun-rays crown thy pine-clad hills
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.
When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white,
At winter's stern command,
Through shortened day and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, frozen land.
When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Through spindrift swirl and tempest roar,
We love thee, wind-swept land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, wind-swept land.
As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood we stand,
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.
God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.
Yes, it does. The Newfoundland Pony was developed from stock brought from The British Isles to the Island around 1600. Its ancestors are the ponies of Exmoor and Dartmoor in Devon, the New Forest and, to a lesser extent, the Welsh Mountain pony, the Galloway (now extinct), the Highland and the Connemara. Over the centuries it has adapted to the conditions and climate of Newfoundland and is virtually unknown elsewhere.
Its colour can be bay, black, brown or red with black forelocks, manes and tails. They have solid black lower legs up to the hock on the hind leg and to the knee on the front. Black also runs up the inside of the legs to the body. Some have a black dorsal stripe. Their hooves are blue black with a very hard outer horn. They weigh an average of 500 to 1000 lbs. and stand approximately 14.2 hands (58") high. The ponies have strong front shoulders with a good angle for a collar. Their heads are in proportion to the size of their bodies, with small erect ears and good, clear, kind eyes. They are light and surefooted and can travel over frozen ponds and barrens without breaking the ice. In winter their overcoats grow 2-3 inches long, usually a different colour from their summer coats. They also grow a beard on their chins and have been used to haul boats out of water, pull logs from the forest, and prepare land for spring planting. They are quiet with a good temperament, which makes them good workers, easy keepers and wonderful family pets.
The Newfoundland Pony is facing extinction through cross-breeding to other breeds and neglect. It could quite possibly be the oldest breed of domesticated livestock in North America. The Newfoundland government has passed legislation declaring the pony a heritage animal. The Newfoundland Pony Society, incorporated as a charity in 1981, is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Newfoundland Pony. Today, there are about 150 pure type Newfoundland Ponies. Membership, involvement and support are encouraged to secure this breed for the future and to save the ponies from extinction.
With Confederation in 1949, Newfoundland adopted the stamps of Canada but, prior to that time, this British Colony produced its own stamps. Newfoundland stamps are still fairly common, especially those of the past 100 years. The variety is rich, the stamps are colourful and the story they tell is a fascinating one. They are also legal postage if mailed from within Canada. Newfoundland stamps may be purchased from most stamp dealers.
The Tartan, a plaid-type fabric, was developed by the late Sam Wilansky in 1955, who owned a clothing store on Water Street. Registered in 1973, its colours are gold, white, brown and red on a green background. The gold represents the sun's rays in the Ode to Newfoundland; the green represents the pine clad hills; the white represents the cloak of snow; the brown represents the Iron Isle, a reference to Bell Island where iron was mined between the 1890s and 1960s; and the red represents the Royal Standard for which our fathers stood.
The Black Spruce (picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) was proclaimed the Provincial Tree of Newfoundland and Labrador in May of 1991. This tree is widely distributed and is the most common tree in the province.
Black Spruce has had a significant social and economic impact on the growth of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the favoured tree in the pulp and paper industry and is widely used for lumber, wharf piers and firewood. Black spruce has played a prominent role in the lives of aboriginal people and in local folk medicine. This enduring species is extremely hardy and flourishes in Newfoundland and Labrador's short growing season.
The partridge (lagopus sp) or ptarmigan is the provincial game bird. Two partridge species, Willow Ptarmigan and the Rock Ptarmigan, are found throughout the province.
Found primarily in barrens and high country, the partridge epitomizes the open wilderness. It is an arctic bird, and it is speculated that the Burin and Avalon peninsulas may be the most southern, naturally occurring extremity for the bird's range in North America.