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The Atlantic was stormy and risky; the risk was spread mostly by selling shares.The first captain arriving in a particular bay was in charge of allocating suitable shoreline sites for curing fish. Fishing-boat captains competed to arrive first from Europe in an attempt to become the admiral; soon merchants left crewmen behind at the prime shoreline locations to lay claim to the sites.

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The British colony voted against joining Canada in 1869 and became an independent dominion in the early 20th century.

Fishing was always the dominant industry, but the economy collapsed in the Great Depression of the 1930s and the people voluntarily relinquished their independence to become a British colony again.

The 1497 voyage has generated much debate among historians, with various points in Newfoundland, and Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, most often identified as the likely landing place.

Fishing vessels with Basque, English, Portuguese, French and Spanish crews started to make seasonal expeditions .

The island was inhabited by the Beothuks (known as skrælingjar in Greenlandic Norse) and later by Mi'kmaq.

From the late 15th Century, European explorers like John Cabot, João Fernandes Lavrador, Gaspar Corte-Real, Jacques Cartier and others began exploration.

For several years after 1000 AD they lived in a village on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, known today as L'Anse aux Meadows.

Remnants and artifacts of the occupation can still be seen at L'Anse aux Meadows, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Heavy investment by Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, in the 1620s in wharves, warehouses, and fishing stations failed to pay off.

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