For three centuries after Europeans rediscovered it, Newfoundland was thought of as little more than "a great English Ship moored near the Banks during the Fishing Season."Labrador, dismissed as the "land God gave to Cain,"commanded no more respect.
But for the people who made its coastline their home, including the Aboriginal peoples who first settled there 9000 years earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador was of considerably greater significance. In these people lie a fascinating history: Leif Eriksson, James Cook, Black Bart, Benedict Arnold, Brigitte Bardot, Mary Walsh, Joey Smallwood, Amelia Earhart, Shanawdithit, D'Iberville, Audubon and Marconi are but a dozen of the better known.
The history of Newfoundland and Labrador is no genteel excursion. Scandal coexisted with extraordinary feats of courage; disaster with daring acts of the imagination. The ritual burial of a Maritime Archaic child several millennia ago, the Viking landings, the exploits of Basque whalers, centuries of military and religious strife, confederation with Canada and the collapse of the fisheries all are brought to life by Kevin Major in exciting, vivid prose.
As Near to Heaven by Sea was nominated for the 2001 Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize.