Breakers: Stories from Newfoundland and Labrador


138 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919519-21-0






Reviewed by Les Harding

Les Harding is author of The Voyages of Lesser Men: Thumbnail Sketches
in Canadian Exploration.


The subtitle of this book, Stories from Newfoundland and Labrador, is a bit misleading for the reader. Upon first picking up the volume I thought that I was getting a collection of short stories. What we have here are 21 historical articles, reprinted from the author’s monthly newspaper column during the years 1974-1980. Each piece is about six or seven pages in length and is accompanied by a black-and-white photograph. The subjects covered include early explorers, shipwrecks, pirates, mutinies, natural disasters, the Newfoundland dog, unsolved murders, the laying of the Trans-Atlantic cable, the first men to fly the Atlantic, the seal hunt, heroes, and heroines.

The arrangement of the articles is somewhat haphazard. This is not meant to be a scholarly work. There are no footnotes or sources. As the author says, when he wrote the pieces, “their sole purpose was the casual reading pleasure of people with a passing interest in history.” The articles are well written, carefully researched, and quite interesting. To the author’s credit, he deftly separates fact from mythology, a distinction all too often glossed over in works of popular history. There are a few typographical errors in the book and occasional references to people, places, and events that would be familiar only to Newfoundlanders.

Though Breakers is designed primarily for local consumption, it is a good place for anyone to begin study of Newfoundland’s long and fascinating history.


O'Neill, Paul, “Breakers: Stories from Newfoundland and Labrador,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,