cover-image-as-near-to-seaThe Story

For three centuries after Europeans rediscovered it, Newfoundland was thought of as little more than “a great English Ship moored near the Banks during the Fishing Season.” Labrador, dismissed as the “land God gave to Cain,” commanded no more respect.

But for the people who made its coastline their home, including the Aboriginal peoples who first settled there 9000 years earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador was of considerably greater significance. In these people lie a fascinating history: Leif Eriksson, James Cook, Black Bart, Benedict Arnold, Brigitte Bardot, Mary Walsh, Joey Smallwood, Amelia Earhart, Shanawdithit, D’Iberville, Audubon and Marconi are but a dozen of the better known.

The history of Newfoundland and Labrador is no genteel excursion. Scandal coexisted with extraordinary feats of courage; disaster with daring acts of the imagination. The ritual burial of a Maritime Archaic child several millennia ago, the Viking landings, the exploits of Basque whalers, centuries of military and religious strife, confederation with Canada and the collapse of the fisheries — all are brought to life by Kevin Major in exciting, vivid prose.


“… enthusiastic and thorough.” Globe and Mail

“… the sort of history book a reader might want to take to bed for a good long read… a history of people, and it is their stories, rather than a litany of dates and battles…” Atlantic Books Today

“Its considerable strength is Major’s use of his undeniable skills as an award-winning novelist to flesh out the characters and their voices, whom he summons from the wings to take centre stage…” The Telegram


Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize
National Bestseller List: Globe and Mail, Maclean’s

Author’s Comments

When I was approached by Penguin books to write a history of Newfoundland and Labrador, I hesitated. I knew what a long and involved task it would be. And when, in the end, I couldn’t resist the challenge, I started a process of research and writing that took three very full years. The comments from readers have been some of the most encouraging I’ve received for any of my books, given that non-fiction is not something I do very often. I think of the book as accurate and very readable, a storytelling history, not without its sense of humour.

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