Fortunes have been made in Newfoundland through various industries and business ventures. Some notable examples include:
Fishing has been an important part of Newfoundland’s history and economy for centuries. Indigenous people have fished in the region for thousands of years, using nets, hooks, and spears to catch fish for food and trade.
In the early 16th century, European fishermen, primarily Portuguese and Spanish, began to visit Newfoundland in search of cod, which was abundant in the Grand Banks off the coast. They established seasonal fishing stations along the coast and used salt to preserve their catches before transporting them back to Europe.
The fishing industry grew quickly, and by the 18th century, British fishermen were dominant in the region, using larger ships and more advanced fishing techniques. The fishery became a major industry and was critical to the survival and growth of Newfoundland’s economy.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, technological advancements such as steam-powered boats and refrigeration led to further growth and expansion of the fishing industry. However, overfishing and mismanagement of the fishery led to a decline in fish stocks by the mid-20th century.
In 1977, Canada established an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Atlantic Ocean, extending 200 nautical miles from the coastline, to protect and manage the fishery. In the late 20th century, the fishery underwent significant restructuring, with the introduction of quotas and new technologies aimed at conserving fish stocks.
Today, the fishing industry remains an important part of Newfoundland’s economy, although it is smaller than it was in its heyday. Fisheries in the province include cod, crab, lobster, shrimp, and other species, and the industry continues to employ thousands of people throughout the province.
Oil and gas
Oil and gas development in Newfoundland is a relatively recent industry, dating back to the 1960s. In 1966, a drilling rig off the coast of Newfoundland discovered a significant oil field, which marked the beginning of the province’s oil and gas industry.
In the 1970s, the federal government established the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NOPB) to regulate and manage offshore exploration and development. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, numerous oil and gas discoveries were made in the offshore, leading to increased interest and investment in the industry.
In the 1990s, the Hibernia oil field, located about 300 kilometers east of St. John’s, began production. Hibernia was the first major offshore oil development in Newfoundland, and it brought significant economic benefits to the province, including job creation and revenue for the provincial government.
In the following years, other major oil and gas projects were developed, including the Terra Nova, White Rose, and Hebron projects. These projects helped to establish Newfoundland as a significant player in the global oil and gas industry, and they have brought significant economic benefits to the province.
Today, the oil and gas industry remains an important part of Newfoundland’s economy, although it has faced challenges in recent years due to declining oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the province remains committed to further developing its oil and gas resources and to ensuring that the industry continues to benefit the people of Newfoundland.
Mining has a long history in Newfoundland, dating back to the 1700s when deposits of iron ore and copper were discovered. In the 1800s, mining activity increased with the discovery of valuable deposits of lead, zinc, silver, and gold.
One of the most significant mining operations in Newfoundland was the Buchans Mine, which operated from 1928 to 1984. Located in central Newfoundland, the Buchans Mine was a major producer of zinc, lead, copper, silver, and gold, and it played a significant role in the province’s economy for many decades.
In addition to the Buchans Mine, other major mining operations have operated in Newfoundland over the years, including the St. Lawrence Fluorspar Mine, the Duck Pond Mine, and the Voisey’s Bay Mine, which was discovered in the 1990s and is currently one of the largest mining operations in Canada.
The mining industry has faced challenges in Newfoundland, including fluctuating commodity prices, environmental concerns, and labor disputes. However, it remains an important part of the province’s economy, particularly in rural areas where mining activity provides jobs and economic opportunities for local communities.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in mining in Newfoundland, particularly in the development of new mineral resources and the exploration of previously untapped areas of the province. The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has implemented a range of policies and programs to support the growth of the mining industry, including tax incentives, regulatory reforms, and support for research and development.
Real estate development in Newfoundland has a long history, dating back to the early days of European settlement in the province. In the 18th and 19th centuries, much of the land in Newfoundland was owned by wealthy merchants and other elites, who used it for a variety of purposes, including fishing, agriculture, and residential development.
In the early 20th century, the growth of the fishing industry and the development of transportation infrastructure, such as railroads and highways, led to increased demand for housing and other types of real estate. This led to the growth of towns and cities across the province, as well as the development of new neighborhoods and residential subdivisions.
During the mid-20th century, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador became more involved in real estate development, particularly through the construction of public housing projects and the development of new towns and communities in rural areas of the province.
In recent decades, the real estate market in Newfoundland has experienced both ups and downs, driven by factors such as changes in the economy, fluctuations in demand for housing and commercial real estate, and shifts in government policies and regulations.
Despite these challenges, real estate development remains an important sector of the economy in Newfoundland, with ongoing growth and development in urban areas, as well as the development of new residential and commercial projects in rural and remote parts of the province.
Here are some of the wealthiest people in Newfoundland…
Mark Dobbin is a well-known entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. He is the founder and chairman of Killick Capital Inc., a private investment company based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He has been involved in various business ventures over the years, but mostly in the aeronautical space.
In addition to his business activities, Mark Dobbin is also a generous supporter of various charitable causes in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in the areas of health care, education, and the arts. He has made significant donations to organizations such as the Health Care Foundation, the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation, Memorial University, and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.
Dobbin is the son of the late Craig Dobbin, who was the CEO of CHC Helicopter, the world’s largest helicopter company.
Danny Williams, who was born August 4, 1949, is a Canadian businessman and former politician who was the founder and former CEO of Cable Atlantic (formerly known as Avalon Cablevision), a telecommunications company based in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Cable Atlantic was founded in 1980 and grew to become the largest provider of cable television and internet services in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company was later acquired by Rogers Communications in 2000, and Danny Williams went on to pursue a career in politics.
Danny Williams served as the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2003 to 2010, during which time he was known for his strong stance on issues such as offshore oil development and equalization payments from the federal government. After leaving politics, he returned to the private sector and has been involved in various business ventures, including in the energy and real estate sectors.
In the late 1980s, armed with a master’s degree in engineering, Paul Antle began his entrepreneurial journey in his mother’s basement. Initially, he sold hazardous goods labels and placards while laying the groundwork for a business brokering hazardous waste disposal services.
Over time, Paul became a trailblazer in environmental industries, both at the provincial, national, and international levels. He founded several businesses, developed cutting-edge environmental technologies, created hundreds of jobs, and exported products to over 15 countries across four continents.
After selling many of the environmental businesses he established in the 1990s, Paul now serves as the President and CEO of Pluto Investments Inc., his personal private equity firm. Pluto Investments has acquired several entities, including St. John’s Dockyard (Newdock) and Humber Motors Ford Ltd., and currently employs over 400 people.
Paul Antle has also chaired several boards and has been recognized for his community-building efforts, mentorship, and philanthropic giving. His accomplishments have earned him numerous accolades, including induction into the Atlantic Business Magazine Business Hall of Fame, the EY Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, among others.
Ches Penney 1932-2017
Ches Penney was founder and chairman of the Penney Group of Companies, which employs more than 3000 people in the areas of real estate, construction A well regarded business person in Newfoundland, Penney began his career as a bank manager in Grand Falls and was eventually named to the Order of Canada, the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, in addition to being awarded an honorary doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I was approving personal loans and I could see the mill workers were making more money than I was — so I knew I needed to leave and start out on my own,” he once recalled. “Grand Falls was a small market, so I had a number of small businesses. Most of them grew or changed hands. Lincoln Construction was my paving and road building company and it was here that I cut my teeth in construction. It grew because I had good people around me, but I lost my focus and that business failed. That was a tough lesson. I had seven children and no money. Fear was a great motivator. Pennecon was the outgrowth of that. The good people stayed with me and many others joined our group. The loyalty, commitment and raw talent of all those hard working men and women are what mattered.”
Penney’s daughter Gail is now president of The Penney Group of Companies.
Verbiski co-discovered the Voisey’s Bay Mine in Labrador, which in 2007 was estimated to contain 141 million tonnes at 1.6% nickel.
“In 1993, the diamond prospectors Al Chislett and Chris Verbiski inadvertently discovered large nickel, copper, and cobalt deposits at Voisey’s Bay while under contract with Diamond Resources,” Heritage Newfoundland recalled. “Their find proved to be one of the most significant nickel discoveries of the late-20th century and attracted attention from international mining companies, including Canadian-owned Falconbridge and Inco (which later changed its name to Vale Inco after merging with Brazilian-owned Companhia Vale do Rio Doce in 2006).”
An avid fisherman, Verbiski now owns fishing lodges in Newfoundland. Verbiski, who told Forbes he began fishing just to eat while prospecting, maintains his sense of humor.
“It’s amazing how being hungry makes you a better fisherman,” he said.