John Cabot reaches the waters off Newfoundland in 1497. When he returned to England, he reported seeing fish so plentiful they could be caught just by lowering a basket into the water.
Soon, hundreds of ships were fishing off the coast of "New Found Land." Most fishers stayed on their ships, only going ashore to dry their fish. The sites used were called harbors or fishing stations.
The original inhabitants of the island were the Beothuk. During the summer the Beothuk fished and gathered shellfish, living along the coast. In the winter, the Beothuk moved inland and hunted caribou. The arrival of the British fishers disrupted this way of life, yet the Beothuk tried to avoid the newcomers, even if that meant going hungry.
Once the fishing season ended, the fishers would return to Europe with their catch. While the British were gone, the Beothuk would sometimes raid fishing stations and take steel hooks, rope, and other supplies.
Hostilities grew more violent. Eventually, the British used guns to kill many Beothuk. The British, unintentionally, also brought diseases to the island, resulting in more deaths.
In 1828, only one Beothuk remained. She was a young woman named Shanawdithit who lived with an English family in St. John's during her last years. By then, people were interested in learning about the culture of the Beothuk. Shanawdithit tried to answer their questions, but she died of tuberculosis in 1828.