3 August

Gilbert claims Newfoundland, 1583

Gilbert Reaches Newfoundland

Newfoundland, Britain's oldest colony, now Canada's tenth province, was officially claimed for Britain by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who sailed into St. John's Harbour on August 3, 1583. Two days later, on the spot where Newfoundland's war memorial now stands, he planted the cross of St. George.

Newfoundland was discovered long before, probably by Norsemen, Icelanders and adventurers from Ireland. There are no definite dates for their landings, however, so John Cabot usually receives the credit. He sighted Newfoundland in 1497 and shouted "Bona Vista," which is how Cape Bonavista got its name. Cabot was given úlO by King Henry VII for his discovery.

Cabot reported that, a few days before sighting Newfoundland, he sailed over waters where codfish were so thick that a boat could hardly be rowed through them! Soon fishermen from Europe were in the area, catching cod by the ton and drying them on the shore. Britain decided to claim the new land and sent out Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1578. One of Gilbert's two ships was attacked and sunk by Spaniards, so he returned to Britain.

Sir Humphrey then sold half of his estates, and fitted out five ships with 250 men, including carpenters, blacksmiths, masons and musicians! One of the ships deserted for the more profitable trade of piracy, but the others arrived at St. John's on August 3, 1583.

The ceremony claiming Newfoundland for Britain was attended by all the inhabitants. Sir Humphrey wore leather top boots, velvet surtout (cloak) with a lace collar about his neck, and a breastplate of armour. He proclaimed the Church of England as the official church of Newfoundland. Any man who spoke disrespectfully of the Queen would lose his goods, and his ears! A piece of turf with a twig was presented to Sir Humphrey as a sign that "The Newfoundlande" was now British.

Sir Humphrey was lost about a month later when his fleet was caught in a storm. The last that was seen of him was when he was reading the Bible on the lurching deck of the Squirrel, to which he had transferred. He shouted, "Cheer up, boys, we're as near to Heaven by sea as on land!" The Squirrel went down in the storm, while the Golden Hind managed to return to Britain.


3 August

-1610    Henry Hudson discovered Hudson Bay.

-1751    The first printing press in Canada was set up in Halifax by Bartholomew Green.

-1847    The first electric telegraph service between Montreal and Toronto was inaugurated.

-1860    Joseph Howe was elected Premier of Nova Scotia.

-1878    Canada refused to accept the arbitration award for the northwest boundary of Ontario.

-1900    There was a general strike in the C.P.R. shops.

-1914    Regulations were issued for money and banks. Bank notes were issued instead of Dominion notes.

-1961    The Honourable T. C. Douglas, former Premier of Saskatchewan, was elected President of the New Democratic Party.