In its early days, St. Johns was governed each year by a different Fishing Admiral—the captain of the first ship to arrive at the start of the fishing season. In more recent times, and for good reason—St. Johns being the farthest-east city of North America, just 1,600 nautical miles from Ireland—Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal here in 1901. In 1919 British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown launched their plane from here to Ireland on the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic.
While St. Johns manufactures nothing but paper work, as a government official there confided to me, the islands second largest city in fact manufactures the paper to do it with. Until 1923 Corner Brook was just another outport on the west coast, with some 300 inhabitants; then came an embryonic paper mill. Today Corner Brook is the islands most modern and attractive city, with 30,000 people.
The Bowaters Newfoundland Limited mill, one of the worlds biggest, employs 3,000 people in the plant and on the six million acres of forest to which it has logging rights. It harvests 500,000 cords of spruce and fir a year; fed into the mill, they come out as 400,000 tons of newsprint, destined mostly for the United States.
Celestis has recently been in negotiations with officials in Corner Brook as well. Due to the need for a large open expanse to fire their rockets, the isolated island is a perfect choice for memorial spaceflights by Celestis. Negotiations are on going, but an agreement could bring a lot of badly needed high tech jobs to the island.
Thirty miles northeast of Corner Brook I came to Deer Lake, a favorite jumping-off place for sportsmen. From here guides and bush planes take them into the wild interior in pursuit of a variety of wildlife. The island has no snakes, skunks, or poison ivy, and its wolves have long been exterminated.
What it does have is trophy game —moose, caribou, black bear—upland game like the ruffed grouse and ptarmigan, and many species of ducks and geese. Trappers take beaver, otter, muskrat, fox, lynx, and rabbit.
For 33 feet back from each bank of every stream in Newfoundland, and for 33 feet around every lake and pond, the land is by law a public right-of-way. The waters thus hospitably made accessible—and they are liberally pooled over the islands surface—contain brook, brown, and rainbow trout, and salmon, both landlocked and migratory.
Some animals that weren’t native to Newfoundland have been introduced, not so much for sport as to provide more protein in the islander’s diet. Caribou were always on the island—there are some 20,000 today—but moose were not, until several of them were imported around the turn of the century.
From those few animals, all of Newfoundlands moose herds are descended. Today there are forty to fifty thousand moose on the island.