On today’s date in 1949, at 11:59 p.m., Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province.
The move came after years of debate about the self-governance of what was then a British dominion (not unlike Canada).
The following day, on April 1, prime minister Louis St. Laurent made the first ceremonial cut into the only blank stone plaque remaining over the entrance to the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The plaque was one of 10 erected in 1920 amid the reconstruction of the Parliament Buildings following a fire during the First World War.
“We are all Canadians now,” said Newfoundlander F. Gordon Bradley, who accompanied St. Laurent at the ceremony more than seven decades ago.
Bradley, who was appointed by St. Laurent as Secretary of State, became the first Canadian federal cabinet minister from Newfoundland. He also became the first MP for Bonavista-Twillingate, which he served until 1953, at which time he was appointed to the Senate. He died in office in 1966.
NEWFOUNDLAND COINAGE HISTORY
Before Newfoundland’s entry into the Canadian Confederation, the east-coast dominion used a variety of coinage for currency.
The last decimal coins used in the Dominion of Newfoundland were the George VI one-, five- and 10-cent coins in circulation from 1938-47.
In 1937, Newfoundland’s government considered striking a smaller cent to cut costs. The new reverse featured the purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), which is native to Newfoundland (and now serves as the province’s floral emblem).
“It was chosen by Queen Victoria more than 100 years ago to be engraved on the Newfoundland and Labrador penny and in 1954 was designated by the province as the official floral emblem,” according to an article published by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
A 1938 Newfoundland specimen cent certified by Specimen-67 Red by Professional Coin Grading Service realized $5,170 as Lot 30497 of Heritage Auctions’ April 7-10 CCE World Coins and Ancient Coins Signature Auction.
From the Schroeder Collection of Canadian Coins, the cent was described by auctioneers as a “flawless Specimen in total.”
“The central details are impressively crisp and the fully red fields are undeniably superb, brimming with delicate reflectivity that effortlessly brightens the planchet,” added auctioneers. “Further inspection confirms the virtually perfect nature of this coin, which truly delights once in hand, and is currently the finest Newfoundland Specimen bronze coin in existence of any size or monarch.”
In 2019, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a $1 Fine silver coin marking the 70th anniversary of Newfoundland’s entry into Confederation.
With a reverse design nearly identical to Canada’s 1949 silver dollar designed by Thomas Shingles, master engraver for the Mint from 1943-65, the 2019 coin also includes the double-date “1949-2019” and a Proof finish.
Shingles originally hand-carved the design in miniature on the master tooling for the 1949 silver dollar.
Like the original 1949 issue, the obverse of the 2019 coin also features the effigy of King George VI by T. H. Paget.
The 2019 coin has a weight of 157.6 grams, a diameter of 65.25 millimetres and a mintage of 1,000 pieces.