Do we still live in Newfoundland and Labrador?
I fired off an email to the premier’s office and a spokesperson confirmed what I already knew.
This is, indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador.
It may seem obvious to some, but there’s been some confusion of late. By “of late” I mean since 2006, when the madcap crew at Target Marketing decided there was no place for even so much as an ampersand in the new provincial logo.
We’re all used to the thing by now — the groovy blue font and the cartoonish pitcher plants. It’s clever enough, and looks quite inviting on tourism brochures and such. It could be the emblem for a florist, perhaps, or a daycare.
But there’s no “and” — and that’s the problem.
Someone asked me the other day if the name of the province was now “Newfoundland Labrador.” It was an innocent enough question, and thoroughly understandable. The logo says as much. Not only that, but some government agencies have followed the lead.
Is it Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp., or Newfoundland Labrador Housing?
On the website, visitors are welcomed to “Newfoundland Labrador Housing,” but then told on another page that “Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. is the housing arm of the provincial government.”
What the …?
We still buy our booze from the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp., right? Well, yes, unless you look at the main web page, where there’s not an “and” to be found.
Seems the trend now is “and” optional. We’ve developed a bad case of deconjunctivitis, and I’m not talking about pink eye.
The history of the provincial nomenclature is already tangly enough. It’s taken the older crowd a long time to accept the addition of “Labrador” to the name. It’s been convention for a couple of decades at least, but only became official in 2001.
Previously, the province was simply “Newfoundland.” Labrador was implied. Not just implied, but integrally included. Otherwise, the custom was always to say “the Island of Newfoundland.” (Older folks still insist on capitalizing “Island.”)
Nonetheless, the marginalization of Labrador — both perceived and real — gave rise to the double-barreled moniker.
In documents from the 1927 Privy Council decision on the Labrador boundary, Labrador is referred to as a peninsula. Thus, the pivotal question became, “Over what portion, if any, of the Labrador Peninsula did Newfoundland (in previous legislation) acquire any rights?”
Not only that, but I’m told Labrador was occasionally referred to as “Newfoundland Labrador” to distinguish it from the peninsula as a whole. How’s that for coming full circle? Now we’re marginalizing the island!
Here’s a thought: let’s put the “and” back in the name. Let’s stop this slow creep into and-less confusion. The meter is all wrong, anyway. “Newfoundland Labrador” sounds like “Anything you can do …” Taunting triplets. Is that any rhythm for a proud, determined province?
It’s Newfoundland and Labrador.
Say it again.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.