The Constitutions of Newfoundland and Labrador

The base documents of each of the various stages in the the constitutional evolution of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Treaty of Utrecht, 1713

By which France ceded its claim to Newfoundland, with the exception of fishing rights along the coast from Cape Bonavista to Pointe Riche.

Commission Appointing Governor Osborne, 1729

Henry Osborn was the first Naval Governor of Newfoundland, from 1729 to 1731. He was appointed to restore order and defeat the lawlessness that prevailed in the Island at the time. In exercise of the powers granted to him by this Commission, he appointed Magistrates from among the local population to keep the peace during the winter.

The Newfoundland Act of 1832

An Act of the British Parliament which continued in force several earlier Acts pertaining to Newfoundland, and provided for the appropriation and application of funds raised in the Colony.

Commission Appointing Sir Thomas Cochrane Governor, 1832 (to appear)

The Newfoundland Act, 1842

Provided for an amalgamated Assembly with a combined membership of elected and appointed members.

The Newfoundland Act, 1846

The Newfoundland Act of 1842 was, by its Article VIII, to expire on September 1, 1846. This Act continued it in force until September 1, 1847.

The Newfoundland Act, 1847

The Newfoundland Act of 1842 was in force until September 1, 1847. By this Act it was allowed to expire, returning Newfoundland to its pre-1842 constitution. At the same time, Articles I, II, II, and IV of the 1842 Act, dealing with property and residency restrictions on membership in the Assembly, the appropriation of revenues, and simultaneous elections, were made permanent.

Instructions to Governor Darling, 1855

Established the principles of Responsible Government in Newfoundland, whereby the executive authority is responsible to the elected legislature.

Letters Patent, 1876

Made permanent the Office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Newfoundland "and its Dependencies." Prior to this, the office was reconstituted with the Letters Patent appointing each successive Governor. The Letters Patent also make certain provisions relating to the Executive Council, the Legislative Council, the General Assembly, and the powers of the Governor.

Letters Patent, 1905

Modified the Letters Patent of 1876 to provide for the administration of the Government during the absence of the Governor.

Letters Patent, 1934

Suspended Responsible Government and instituted a Commission of Government to administer Newfoundland.

The National Convention Act, 1946 (Extracts)

Constituted a National Convention to decide what form the future government of Newfoundland should take. It was not a legislature, but rather a sort of constitutional convention, and met from 1946 to 1948. This was the first time provision was made for representation for Labrador in any Newoundland assembly, although until the National Convention Act was amended in July, the Governor had the power to appoint Labrador's delegate (see below). In the summer of 1946, delegates were elected in each electoral district, and the Convention convened in St. John's on September 11th.

The Newfoundland Act, 1949 and Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada

Brought Newfoundland and Labrador into Confederation as the tenth province.
(Courtesy the Solon Law Archive)

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