Thursday 30 Jun, 2016

Why July 1 Is Important to Newfoundlanders

While the rest of Canada is celebrating our country’s birthday in a sea of red and white, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be spending the morning of July 1st to reflect upon an important time in the province’s history.

Exactly a century ago today, on the morning of July 1, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, 800 Newfoundlanders were sent over the top to fight at the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, where they and the Allies (for Canada was still under British rule) were decimated by the Germans. After the battle had ended, only 68 men from the Newfoundland Regiment were able to answer roll call the next day. As a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of its soldiers during the First World War, July 1st is also known as Memorial Day in Newfoundland in Labrador.

Currently, EF is on the road taking hundreds of proud Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to Europe to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel. Soon, we’ll share some of our travelers’ stories about this incredible event, but until then, we decided to ask a few Newfoundlanders about the significance of today’s date and what makes their province so special.


Why is July 1st important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians? Why is Beaumont-Hamel important?

Amy P., Student Traveler:  July 1st is a time for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to mourn and remember those who lost their lives fighting at Beaumont-Hamel. July 1st may cause conflicting emotions for some people in the province, since thoughts of celebration and remembrance are both evident in our minds. But, without a doubt, we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make the most of the day by celebrating the lives of those we lost in battle, along with the birth of Canada.

Jessica K., Tour Consultant: I don’t think I truly understood the significance of July 1st until I visited the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, where my kin fell. I’m here because of that sacrifice. You really grasp what it means to be a Newfoundlander once you walk those grounds. Students traveling on our tours are at an age where they’re discovering themselves and learning more about themselves. I believe it’s important to reconnect to your roots, pay respect and connect to those who have fallen, in order to find yourself. We, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, are connected to this moment in history. I feel it’s important, now more than ever, to travel and to step outside your comfort zone and bridge a divide between cultures – the only way we can do that is through travel, and not by hiding out at home.

Glacier in Bay

What does being a Newfoundlander/Labradorian mean to you?

Amy P., Student Traveler:  To be a Newfoundlander/Labradorian means waking up each morning surrounded by the simplest forms of beauty that can’t be found anywhere else, whether it’s the sight of the waves crashing on the rocks as the sun beams down making the saltwater sparkle, or seeing boats, stages, and fishing gear scattered along the coastline that seem to be arranged in a picturesque way on purpose. These are everyday sights for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but we never stop seeing the beauty in them. You might think that these things can be found in other places, but I believe that my province makes us see things differently. To be a Newfoundlander/Labradorian means to be constantly surrounded by beauty and peacefulness.


What makes you proud to be a Newfoundlander/Labradorian? How do you share this with others?

Amy P., student traveler:   I’ve already mentioned the beautiful scenes you can find in our province, but the most beautiful thing of all that you can find here are the people. Appreciative, generous, and kind, we are always willing to lend a helping hand. We don’t hesitate to display these qualities to others. Nobody is considered a stranger in Newfoundland and Labrador when you’re in a time of need. Our towns may be dispersed all over the coastline, but if anything were to happen, we would all come together as one very quickly. This makes me very proud to be a Newfoundlander. To be able to share our kindness and generosity with others is a great privilege that displays not only our friendliness, but our pride, too.

Lee M., Group Leader: We Newfoundlanders are proud of who we are and where we come from. Have a question? Ask it. Need a favour? Seek out some help. In a world where people think you can pay for almost anything, Newfoundlanders generally believe it’s better to have a person’s genuine thanks. After all, things are better when it’s a shared experience. Plus it makes for better stories!

Jonathan V., Tour Consultant: I am proud to be from Newfoundland because we have the nicest people in all of Canada – it’s a proven fact. Everyone is so caring and nice that people are often surprised when they visit, and are made to feel like they’re at home after just a couple of days in the company of Newfoundlanders. I hate to generalize, but I have never met such a nice and kind-hearted bunch of people in my life – in fact, I think we’re sometimes too polite, even by Canadian standards. My home province is so different and unique compared to the rest of Canada. It’s an interesting feeling for non-Newfoundlanders to visit such a different place that’s still in the same country.


What makes Newfoundland/Newfoundlanders so unique?

Lee M., Group Leader: Anybody who has been to Newfoundland has surely encountered the richness of our culture, language, and traditions. When you visit, you’ll notice each bay, cove, harbour and town has its own unique way of using language. We also have a long-standing oral tradition of storytelling, jokes, anecdotes, reflections and song. While the rest of the world is told to “dance like no-one is watching”, Newfoundlanders learn to sing so we can be heard. Long-standing standards include rousing lyrics like “We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true Newfoundlanders…” which is often followed by more recent compositions that encourage everyone to join in while exclaiming “I’m a Newfoundlander born and raised and I’ll be one ‘til I die.” And the food! While our climate doesn’t naturally lend itself to a long growing season on land, we do enjoy diverse seafood virtually year-round. Just visit the local wharf in whatever community you’re in, and you’ll find something, whether it’s lobsters, scallops, shrimp, halibut, and yes, even cod!

Jonathan V., Tour Consultant:
We have such different culture and customs here. For instance, Newfoundlanders generally don’t refer to themselves as Canadian when we travel abroad. Our first inclination is to say we are from Newfoundland, even if no one knows what we’re talking about. We also have the toughest climate in Canada, so weather talk isn’t just small talk over here. Nice days are so rare that they feel like a special gift from the heavens. Our capital city, St. John’s (not to be confused with St. John, New Brunswick), is the oldest city in North America, and the island has its own time zone – which is confusing and very hard to get used to. Finally, our accent is something to be proud of. It’s not quite Irish or Scottish – and I admit if we start speaking quickly no one really has any idea what we are saying.

Learn some popular sayings in Newfoundland:

How’s she getting on by = How are you doing

Whadda y’at = What are you up to

Yes b’y = Basically an answer to anything

Where y’ longs to = Where are you from

Who knit ya? = Who’s your mother/ Who are your parents

Now, you’ve had a little crash course on Newfoundland and its traditions and people – thanks to our contributors for the lessons!


Lee M. is a school principal on the Burin Peninsula along the southern coast of Newfoundland. He teaches English language and literature and first travelled with EF in 2005. He is a firm believer that travelling is best when it is a shared experience whether that be an individual traveler seeking to immerse in the culture of the locals or a teacher leading a group of wide-eyed students.

Student traveler Amy P. is 16 years old, and she lives in the small town of Northern Arm, located in central Newfoundland. This Grade 11 student spends her spare time enjoying hockey, softball, photography, and of course, travelling. This spring, Amy traveled to London, Paris, and Rome with EF Tours on the experience of a lifetime. She believes it’s important for young Canadians to travel because travelling is a “constant learning experience which keeps you on your toes, and allows you to be exposed to new things, which is something that I believe everyone needs in life.” 

Jessica K. is an EF Territory Manager for the region of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was raised in a small town, near Georgian Bay, Ontario but her roots are from Placentia, Newfoundland. When she isn’t helping Group Leaders share their passion for travel, you can find her running, practicing and teaching yoga, cooking, writing and adventuring. She believes that everyone should travel wherever they can and that travel colours your life with experiences that help you become a more self-aware, global and enriched citizen. 

Jonathan V. is a EF Territory Manager in Saskatchewan and the Territories. A Newfoundlander to the core, he has lived in Italy and Australia – far from his native land. When he isn’t helping Group Leaders or cracking jokes, you can find him golfing, running, reading and playing video games. Having spent summers in Southeast Asia, Europe and beyond, he shares his passion for travel with teachers and colleagues alike. He believes that everyone needs to get outside their comfort zone and experience new cultures, and by doing that you will become a true global citizen!

Are you inspired to share your love of travel with your class? Browse EF’s tours and discover the possibilities!

Photo Credits
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial: ethanpeyachew
All other photos: Amy P.