Choose the Great Northern Peninsula
People, Culture and Heritage
The Northern Peninsula has a long, rich history. Coastal communities dot the coastline where there are numerous National and Provincial Historic Sites, Parks, and ecological reserves for you to explore. The Northern Peninsula is home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites: Gros Morne National Park, and L'Anse au Meadows National Historic Site. Community museums located throughout the region showcase recent history in the region.

Heritage Cluster Pilot Project:

An exciting new pilot project has been launched on the Great Northern Peninsula to assist community heritage organizations improve their operations and services to the public and build their capacity overall. Supported through the Cultural Economic Development Program, this three-year pilot will determine the effectiveness of providing professional heritage services and staff at a regional level.
Click here for more information

See more of our heritage in our Photo Gallery.
People of the Great Northern Peninsula: A 5,000 Year Legacy
Maritime Archaic People
We have a very rich history here on the Northern Peninsula beginning with the Maritime Archaic people, the first inhabitants of the island of Newfoundland, migrating here sometime around 5,000 years ago from southern Labrador. The Maritime Archaic tradition was named after the discovery of a 4400 year old burial site at Port au Choix, in the late 1960s and 4,700 living sites at Bird Cove in the late 1990s. Archaic refers to an ancient pre-agricultural, or hunting and gathering, way of life. Maritime describes the dependence these first prehistoric peoples had on the sea and its resources. The same resources that have brought people to live on the Northern Peninsula ever since.
More than 1,200 years ago, Vikings from Norway set out on a series of daring voyages that would eventually result in their being the first Europeans to explore the east coast of North America. In stages they established settlements in the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and finally Newfoundland and Labrador.

Though these towns were not ports of call on their voyage, they did sail down the coast of Labrador, where Norse sagas report that Leif Ericson and other Viking explorers landed to harvest wood. But the main attraction for Viking buffs -- and a much more accessible one for Canadians -- is at the tip of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula.

L'Anse aux Meadows is the first and only authenticated Norse site on this continent. It was first brought to worldwide attention in 1960 by Helge and Anne Ingstad, a Norwegian couple who had searched for years to solve the puzzle of the sagas. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, L'Anse aux Meadows likely represents the first European contact with the New World, more than 1,000 years ago and 500 years before Columbus.
Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
British Medical Missionary, Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell devoted much of his life to the establishment of regular health care services for the people of Northern Newfoundland and Southern Labrador. He arrived at Labrador in 1892 to investigate living conditions among local fishers for the United Kingdom's National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. He spent much of the summer sailing up and down the Labrador coast aboard the medical vessel Albert, treating about 900 people for a wide range of illnesses.

The Grenfell mission expanded greatly from its initial mandate to one of developing schools, an orphanage, cooperatives, industrial work projects, and social work. Although originally founded to serve the local fishermen the mission developed to include the aboriginal peoples and settlers along the coasts of Labrador and the eastern side of the Great Northern Peninsula of northern Newfoundland. By 1914 the mission had gained international status. In order to manage its property and affairs, the International Grenfell Association, a non-profit mission society, was founded to support Dr. Grenfell's work. The Association operated, as a Non Governmental Organization until 1981, and had responsibility for both the delivery of healthcare and social services in northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

For his years of service on behalf of the people of these communities Dr. Grenfell was knighted by King George V. He died in 1940 and his ashes were brought to St Anthony, where they were placed inside a rock face overlooking the harbour.
Nurse Myra Bennett
Nurse Myra Bennett, a nurse originally from England came to Daniel's Harbour on the Northern Peninsula to address the dire need of health services in 1921. She accepted a two-year contract where she got paid very small wages. Myra Bennett was known along the 200 miles of coast that was her responsibility simply as "the nurse".

Bennett's medical career along that stretch of coast became the stuff of legends. Daniel's Harbour was an isolated community at that time. There were no roads or railway connecting the community to the outside world. There was a coastal steamer, but it operated only in good weather. The nearest hospital was the Grenfell Mission, established in St. Anthony, several hundred miles to the north.
People Today
The majority of people on the Northern Peninsula today come from English or Irish descent. In recent years, increasing numbers of people have come to live here from various other parts of the world.

English is our main language, however, some people would call it "Newfinese". Newfoundlanders are known for talking fast and with a bit of a slang but many people on the Northern Peninsula, especially the elderly people have a language of their own!! This includes many old words and turns of phrase, especially about the fishery. But don't worry, we don't mind slowing it down a bit for you to understand us....unless we are in the middle of a very intriguing story!

Many people on the Northern Peninsula are very talented. We can play various instruments including the guitar, accordion and the "Ugly Stick". There are also may crafts that are made right here on the Northern Peninsula including Sealskin boots, slippers or mitts. Quilts and knitted wool products are also things of the past that are still being produced today!

Our warm hospitality and jolly spirit are as much a part of our culture as our unique history and natural scenic beauty. This is a cultural background that we are very proud of and would love to share with you!
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