France established the first heavily fortified colony at Placentia in 1662 and developed a string of trapping posts along the coast of Labrador during the first half of the 18th century. Newfoundland became a battleground during the War of the League of Augsburg (1689–98), the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–14), and the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). By provision of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Britain gained the entire island of Newfoundland, though France retained use of the northern and western shore (French Shore) for drying fish. By the Treaty of Paris (1763), France gave up all claims to mainland North America but was given the small islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off the southern coast of Newfoundland and retained its fishing privileges on the French Shore, which were not relinquished until 1904.
Britain never regarded Newfoundland as a settlement colony, favoring the rights of fishing interests. This policy is reflected in the appointment of naval officers as royal governors. Although most of the frontier regions of the island were settled by the 1840s, explorers of the Hudson’s Bay Company were at that time just beginning to regularly probe the interior of Labrador. The majority of immigrants were from Ireland and the west of England. Largely barren, Labrador was administered by Newfoundland (1763–74, 1809–25) and Quebec (1774–1809) before it was divided between the two provinces in 1825. The present boundary between Quebec and Labrador was finally established in 1927. Despite a population of only some 20,000, in 1832, the British government acceded to demands for a strong local government, allowing a representative general assembly. In 1855, Newfoundland was granted responsible government, with the cabinet answerable to the assembly rather than to the governor. Newfoundland became the 10th province of the Dominion of Canada in 1949. The discovery of copper in the 1850s and iron in the 1890s led to the development of a significant mining industry in Labrador, though fishing remained Newfoundland’s principal economic resource.