Grand Falls-Windsor

Discover Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Introduction to Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Grand Falls-Windsor, a town nestled in the central region of the island of Newfoundland, is a gem in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. With a population of 13,853 as per the 2021 census, it stands as the largest town in the central region and the sixth largest in the province. The town, known as "Qapskuk" in the Mi'kmaq language, is one of two major population centres in Central Newfoundland. It is renowned for hosting the annual Exploits Valley Salmon Festival. The town came into existence in 1991, following the amalgamation of the two former towns of Grand Falls and Windsor.

The Rich History of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

The history of Grand Falls-Windsor dates back to 1768 when Lieutenant John Cartwright named a waterfall he discovered on the Exploits River as "Grand Falls". However, the land remained largely undeveloped until 1905, except for the Newfoundland Railway running about 4 miles north of Grand Falls. The railway brought with it the potential for development.

In 1905, the town of Grand Falls was established as a company town using Garden City principles by Ebenezer Howard. Alfred Harmsworth (Baron Northcliffe) began looking for an alternative source of newsprint for his family's newspaper and publishing business, fearing the impending war in Europe. During their search, Harold Harmsworth and Mayson Beeton discovered Grand Falls. The site had great potential due to access to lumber, the possibility of hydroelectricity, and a deep-water port available in nearby Botwood. On January 7, 1905, the Harmsworths and Robert Gillespie Reid, owner of the Newfoundland Railway, formed the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, and the mill was constructed and opened on October 9, 1909. The first roll of salable newsprint was produced on December 22, 1909. Workers from around the colony and the world came to help develop the new area. At that time, only employees of the mill and workers from private businesses were permitted to live in Grand Falls. Other people settled north of the railway in a shack town known as Grand Falls Station, which became Windsor, named for the Canadian Royal Family.

The Anglo Newfoundland Development Company, owners of the town, catered to the social and athletic needs of the people living there. The Grand Falls Athletic Club was formed in 1907. Sports such as hockey, boxing, golf, soccer, and baseball were played in the area. Increasing interest in music and the arts reflected in the creation of several clubs, including The Andophians, The Exploits Amateur Theatre Company, the Northcliffe Drama Club (1951), and Another Newfoundland Drama Company Inc. (A.N.D. Company Inc.) (1998). Several musical groups were formed. From 1905 to 1906, the religious needs of the residents were filled by visiting clergy. However, because of the increasing population of Grand Falls, several churches were built.

Due to its continued growth, Grand Falls Station became a vibrant town. Main Street, in what is now the former town of Windsor, featured lines of small business that catered to the needs of the residents and the town was officially incorporated on November 1, 1938. During the incorporation, Grand Falls Station changed its name to Windsor in honour of the British Royal Family, the House of Windsor.

In 1961, Price Brothers and Company Limited acquired a large amount of Anglo Newfoundland Development Company stock. An election for the first municipal government was soon held, which eventually led to the incorporation of the town of Grand Falls. In 1988, the town took the title of the World Forestry Capital briefly. Finally, in 1991, the towns of Grand Falls and Windsor voted to amalgamate, becoming the current town of Grand Falls-Windsor. The Abitibi Bowater pulp and paper mill closed in 2009. In 1998, the Texas Vampires scandal occurred in the town, leading to the inception of the Newfoundland Health Research Ethics Authority.

Today, the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, part of the 5th Canadian Division is stationed in the town.

Exploring the Geography of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Centrally located on the island of Newfoundland, Grand Falls-Windsor is approximately an hour west of Gander, two and a half hours west of Clarenville, and about four hours west of St. John's. Conversely, the town is slightly over two hours east of Deer Lake, two hours and forty-five minutes east of Corner Brook, and close to five hours east of Port Aux Basques, when traveling on the Newfoundland and Labrador Route 1, part of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The town itself consists of the former towns of Grand Falls and Windsor. The Newfoundland and Labrador Route 1 runs through the middle of town, with exits for Main Street, Station Road, Cromer Avenue, Union Street, Grenfell Heights, and New Bay Road. Main thoroughfares in the town include Lincoln Road, Cromer Avenue, Main Street, High Street, and Scott Avenue.

Climate of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Grand Falls-Windsor experiences a humid continental climate (Koppen: Dfb), similar to the remainder of Newfoundland. Due to its farther inland position than most localities, the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and its moderation is less prevalent, rendering its summers the warmest on the island. Winter lows are also more extreme than in St. John's and Corner Brook, although swings are very moderate when compared to areas on similar latitudes in continental Canada.

Services in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Health Services in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Healthcare services in the town are administered by Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services.

Transportation in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

The nearest airport is the Exploits Valley (Botwood) Airport located north of Bishop's Falls which is used for hospital medical airlift transports and some private small aircraft. The nearest international airport is Gander International Airport, approximately 100 km (62 mi) east of Grand Falls-Windsor. There is a public heliport on Scott Avenue, Grand Falls-Windsor Heliport operated by the town.

Media and Communications in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Communication services are provided by AT&T Canada, Primus Canada, and Aliant, formerly NewTel Communications. The companies provide mobile phones, high-speed Internet, and digital television, including CJON-TV (NTV), the only privately-owned television station in Newfoundland and Labrador, and other services.

The local newspaper, the Advertiser, was published twice weekly from 1936 until 2017, and has been replaced by The Central Voice. It had a readership of more than 10,000 per edition and had won numerous awards, both regionally and nationally. The paper was first published by brothers Mike and Walter Blackmore, with Mike's wife, the former Laura Cantwell, serving as the first editor.

Private radio stations in the town include CHEV-FM (94.5), CKXG-FM (102.3), CKCM (620), a VOCM affiliate, both owned by Stingray Radio and CKMY-FM (95.9) owned by Geoff Stirling. The other private radio station is VOAR-8-FM (98.3), which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has CBT-FM (93.3), CBC Radio One, and CBN-FM-1 (90.7), CBC Music.

CBNAT is the call sign for the local CBC rebroadcaster of CBNT from St. John's. Rogers TV provides a community channel that includes a local talk show focused on community events called Exploits Central.

Demographics of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Grand Falls-Windsor had a population of 13,853 living in 6,122 of its 6,628 total private dwellings, a change of -2.2% from its 2016 population of 14,171. With a land area of 54.84 km2 (21.17 sq mi), it had a population density of 252.6/km2 (654.3/sq mi) in 2021. As of 2006, there are 6,420 (47.35%) male residents and 7,140 (52.66%) female residents with the median age of male residents at 42.4 and the median age of female residents at 42.8. The median age of the town's population is getting older, from 36.2 at the 1996 census to 40.2 in the 2001 census and to 42.6 in 2006, compared to the province as a whole at 41.7. Of the population in 2006, 790 (5.83%) people were in a common-law relationship, 3,160 (23.31%) were single, 650 (4.79%) divorced, 830 (6.12%) were widowed, 315 (2.32%) separated and the rest, 6,455 (47.54) were married. Visible minority groups in the town are Aboriginal people (225 or 1.66%) followed by Chinese Canadians (70 or 0.52%), Arab Canadians (35 or 0.26%), Indo-Canadians (South Asian Canadian) (30 or 0.22%) and Filipino Canadians (15 or 0.11%). In 2001, the majority of residents – 8,405 (63.01%) of them – were Protestant, 4,420 (33.13%) were Catholic, 10 (0.07%) were Christian Orthodox, 35 (0.26%) were Christian, 10 (0.07%) were Hindu and 285 (2.14%) residents had no religious affiliation. The 2006 unemployment rate in the town was 17.0% slightly down from 17.7% in 2001 and below the provincial average of 18.6%. In 2000, the average annual earnings of part-time working residents was $26,671, compared to the provincial average of $24,165. The average earnings of full-time workers was $38,665, again slightly above the provincial average of $37,910.

Sights to See in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

The Mary March Provincial Museum in Grand Falls, located at 24 Catherine St., showcases exhibits about the Beothuk people, geology, regional industry, and natural history. It is named for Demasduit's European given name. A locomotive of the Newfoundland Railway, which was closed down in 1988, can be seen in front of the museum. The Salmonid Interpretation Centre at the Grand Falls is also noteworthy. Every year in summer, the Salmon Festival is held; it has had performances by Aerosmith, Kiss, and The Eagles.

Harmsworth Hall: A Historical Landmark in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland Labrador

Harmsworth Hall, constructed by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company in 1929, is a significant historical landmark in Grand Falls-Windsor. This company, one of the most important in Newfoundland in the early part of the 20th century, was largely responsible for the development of Grand Falls as a town with the creation of a pulp-and-paper mill. The company named the hall after one of the original owners of the mill, and for decades it served the community as a theatre, playhouse, and meeting hall.

The Town of Grand Falls was incorporated in 1963, and the company gave the building to the new municipality as a town hall. Since then, the city council has renovated the interior to include offices and council chambers. The hall still operates as the offices for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor.

The hall has a wood frame with a brick exterior and stands two storeys tall. It has roof trim moulding, copper flashing, and large arched windows that overlook High Street, the main street in Grand Falls. It has concrete lintels over the doors and windows, and the centre portion of the hall features a peaked roof.

Harmsworth Hall became a Registered Heritage Structure in 1998. It is one of very few heritage structures in central Newfoundland.

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