Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Annabel

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Annabel

A Novel

by Kathleen Winter

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2011, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

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Labrador and Newfoundland
Annabel
takes place in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province of Canada. Located on the Atlantic coast, the province is divided into the mainland area of Labrador (east and north of Quebec), and the island of Newfoundland. With a total area roughly the size of Colorado, the island of Newfoundland makes up 25% of the area and 94% of the population (approximately half a million), leaving the larger area of Labrador sparsely populated. The northern part of Labrador is above the Arctic Circle, so the climate is both polar and sub-arctic, with most of the population clustered around the coastal areas. Wayne grows up in a small village on the southeast coast of Labrador, not too far from Newfoundland.

Labrador and NewfoundlandInhabited by several waves of native peoples (most recently, the Innu, Inuit and now extinct Beothuk), the area has been populated for at least 9,000 years. The island of Newfoundland is thought to be the first place in North America to be 'discovered' by Europeans (other than Greenland, which is part of the North American continent). The Norseman briefly settled on the island of Newfoundland more than 1,000 years ago but it was whalers from half a dozen European countries who established the first permanent colonies in the 1500s, and before long settlers had built villages along the Atlantic coast to support the fledgling fishing industry. The area was claimed by France in the mid 1600s and ceded to Great Britain in the 1700s.  Between 1907–1949 the area was an independent country of the British Commonwealth (like Canada, Australia and New Zealand), until it officially joined Canada as a province in 1949; which, interestingly, makes it both the first province to be settled by Europeans and the last to join the Canadian federation.

Although fishing is still important to the economy of Labrador and Newfoundland, it has been overtaken by mining (due to the discovery of oil, iron, nickel and other precious metals in the last century) and service industries including tourism. The relatively recent introduction of aquaculture (Atlantic salmon, mussels and steelhead trout) is also an important contributor.

Article by Beverly Melven

This article is from the January 13, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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