Newfoundland delegation begins to talk terms of union


October 6, 1948

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: GN 175; Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada (signatures)

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: GN 175; Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada (signatures)

On this day (6 October 1948) a seven-member delegation from Newfoundland began discussions in Ottawa concerning the possible terms for the entry of Newfoundland into the Canadian Confederation.

The delegation arrived  in Ottawa with the authority  to speak for all Newfoundlanders  because of  a  referendum  vote  taken in  22  July 1948 that  saw Confederation gain 78,323 votes (52.3 percent) and Responsible government receive 71,334 votes (47.7 percent).

On 30 July 1948, the Prime Minister of Canada announced that the result of the referendum was “clear and beyond all possibility of misunderstanding”, and that it was welcomed by the Government of Canada. He added that the Government would be “glad to receive with the least possible delay authorized representatives of Newfoundland” to negotiate Terms of Union.

After several months of negotiations, agreement was finally reached and “Terms of Union” between Newfoundland and Canada were formally signed on 11 December 1948. Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and Defence Minister Brooke Claxton joined six of the seven Newfoundland delegates – Sir Albert Walsh, F. Gordon Bradley, Philip Gruchy, John B. McEvoy, Joseph R. Smallwood and Gordon A. Winter (Chesley Crosbie refused to sign) – in appending their names to the document.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Provincial Archives Division at The Rooms explore GN 154.1  this collection consists of minutes of 41 meetings of the Newfoundland Delegation held at the Colonial Building, St. John’s, between 24 August and 24 September 1948, prior to the delegation’s de

Recommended Museum Visit:  At The Rooms Provincial Museum visit the exhibit Here, We Made a Home in The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4. This exhibit highlights some of the artifacts associated with the Confederation debates including the terms of union.