Newfoundland enters Confederation
Joey Smallwood said it was the narrowest of escapes. Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 by a referendum result of 52 to 48 per cent. Smallwood, a small but tough man with horn-rimmed glasses, fought stellar orator and anti-Confederate Peter Cashin. Many benefits came with joining Canada; a university, better highways. But average income still hovers near the poverty line. Today, a commission investigates whether Canada broke its 1949 funding promise.
By April 1, prices have already dropped drastically for food, clothing and freight. A promise of baby bonus and a stable economy comes from the federal government.
Perks aside, patriotic Newfoundlanders mourn the loss of their independence.
The St. John's Daily News publishes "The Lament for Newfoundland," a poem by anti-Confederate Albert Perlin. On CBC Radio, a seal hunter who voted against Confederation says, "Whatever they want to call me, I'll still be a Newfoundlander at heart."
. Protestants and communities near Nova Scotia tended to be for Confederation.
. Women supported Confederation because of the baby bonus and for duty-free ordering from the Eaton's catalogue.
. Almost immediately Newfoundlanders began receiving baby bonuses, old age pensions and veteran benefits.
. Rumour has it that officials brought the province into Confederation one minute before midnight March 31, 1949, to avoid the union being considered an April Fool's joke.
. Albert Perlin's poem "The Lament for Newfoundland" is published at the bottom of this Web page: worldatwar.net/article/newfoundland .
. Smallwood was sworn in as interim premier of Newfoundland on April 1, 1949.
. Anti-Confederates believed there was a Confederation conspiracy. Saturday Night magazine published one man's anti-Confederate account. He said the referendum was rigged and that England was "in cahoots" with Canada and Canada was "in cahoots" with Joey Smallwood.
. In 1951, Progressive Conservative leader Peter Cashin ran and was defeated by Premier Smallwood. Cashin was a First World War hero, staunch anti-Confederate and stellar orator.
. Journalist Grace Sparks also ran in the 1951 election as a Progressive Conservative candidate for Burin District. She was the first woman to run for MP in Newfoundland.
. Baby bonus was a monthly payment made to women with children under the age of 18 by the federal government.
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: April 1, 1949
Host: Bill Reid
Reporter: Joseph McSween
Photo: National Archives of Canada / PA-133280
Last updated: February 2, 2012
Page consulted on March 20, 2013
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