Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

I
THE ECONOMY IN OUTLINE

Newfoundland lies like a gigantic stopper at the mouth of the wide Gulf of St. Lawrence. Although an island it is geographically an integral part of North America and is the most easterly projection of the continental land mass. On the north it is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Belle Isle which at its narrowest part is only nine miles wide; on the south-east it is separated from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, by Cabot Strait which at its narrowest point (Cape Ray, Newfoundland, to Cape North, Nova Scotia) is about sixty miles wide. In latitude it lies between 46° 38′ and 51° 39′ north, or roughly the same latitude as Western Europe between La Rochelle on the Bay of Biscay and Bristol, England. But the Gulf Stream warms Western Europe, while the Labrador Current cools Newfoundland, hence its climate is more comparable to that of Southern Alaska than to that of the Atlantic fringe of Europe in the same latitude as Newfoundland.

The world's busiest transoceanic trade routes skirt Newfoundland. The Island lies athwart the great circle route from the middle and northern Atlantic ports of North America to Western and Northern Europe, and ships following this route must detour north through the Strait of Belle Isle or south of Cape Race. The northern route, however, is used almost entirely by ships from St. Lawrence River ports and is open and safe for navigation only during late summer and early autumn months. Even on the southern route the shipping lanes shift southward in certain seasons and in certain years due to the hazards of fog and ice. But proximity to the shipping lanes has been of doubtful importance to Newfoundland. On the one hand, it has facilitated communications with Britain and with the mainland of North America.

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