Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland constitute the Atlantic provinces. The 3 maritime provinces (NS, PEI and NB) have much in common - among other things they share a historical and cultural heritage, and their residents have remarkably similar attitudes towards Canada, the US and Britain. Newfoundland development and Newfoundlanders have been shaped by quite different forces and personalities.
Until 1949 most Newfoundland residents had few emotional and economic ties with the Maritimes in particular and Canada in general. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Newfoundland, unlike the Maritime provinces, was not an integral part of the economic, cultural and political system of North America. Rather, it was the western vantage point of a British way of life, providing a powerful undercurrent for Newfoundland's unique brand of local patriotism. Confederation in 1949 began the difficult process of transforming Newfoundlanders into Canadians.
Since 1949 many attempts have been made to draw the Atlantic provinces closer. Possibly most important was the 1954 establishment of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. APEC was to have united economic thinking in Atlantic Canada and projected a positive regional image. But despite APEC and many similar organizations, few residents of the Atlantic provinces see themselves as parts of such a region.
In the Maritimes there has been strong support for Maritime Union, but there has been little enthusiasm, as the Task Force on Canadian Unity discovered in 1978, for Atlantic Union. Newfoundland has never been interested in Atlantic Union and the discovery of the Hibernian oil field off its east shore has merely strengthened its resolve to remain apart.