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Overview

multiculturLivingWelcome to the Town of Gander! As you will see in the following pages, we are proud of the quality of life we are able to offer our residents and of the services and amenities that help drive our growing economy.

Gander was founded on the development of transatlantic aviation at a time when flying was still widely considered the exclusive domain of daredevils and fools. Undaunted, our founding fathers persevered, building the world’s largest airfield and earning an international reputation for excellence and innovation in aerospace and communications.

Since our incorporation as a municipality in 1958, successive Town Councils have worked to maintain our place in the world, seeking out ever new challenges and opportunities. Always, our goal has been to build a stable and prosperous future, not only for ourselves, but for our children and for generations to come.

Since its inception, Gander has had the somewhat rare advantage of thoughtful planning and controlled development, but always with the flexibility to adapt to changing needs or unexpected opportunities. As a result, we have been able to offer residents outstanding value for their level of taxation. In fact, in its 2007 analysis of urban centres, MoneySense magazine ranked the Town of Gander among the top ten places to live in all of Canada.

The main economic industries for the Town of Gander are in the areas of transportation, communications, public administration and defence. In addition, a large portion of Gander’s economy is driven by the service industry. While Gander's resident population hovers around 10,000, some 128 surrounding communities, with a combined population of 90,000, rely on the businesses and services provided in Gander.

Health care and educational facilities contribute greatly to Gander's high standard of living. As a regional referral centre, the James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre offers state-of-the-art health care equipment and medical professionals specializing in a range of disciplines. There is also a privately operated medical centre and various specialty clinics in physiotherapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic, optometry, massage therapy, wellness, community health and dentistry.

Gander has modern, well-equipped educational facilities for students of all ages, from day care and pre-school through publicly-funded primary, elementary and high school education.

Gander is also a regional post-secondary training centre with three community colleges offering a variety of trades and technology career choices.

The Town supports and operates many parks, hiking trails, playgrounds and recreational programs year round including a multi-purpose hockey arena, a curling club and an 18-hole golf course overlooking beautiful Gander Lake. The nearby Gander River is a world class waterway offering thrilling adventures and superb angling, while whales and icebergs ply the coastal waters of the North Atlantic less than an hour’s drive away.

Residents choose from a variety of apartments, condominiums, cottages and homes to suit every need including a full range of assisted living accommodations.

People and Culture

Crossroads of the World

While predominantly English-speaking, Gander is a cosmopolitan community that has welcomed people of virtually all nationalities throughout its history. Built in the late 1930s as a dedicated airfield linking North America and Europe, Gander was conceived in the then-independent nation of Newfoundland by the Canadian, American and British governments. During the Second World War, Gander also hosted servicemen from all three countries, along with Australia.

In the post-war/Cold War era, Gander became the hub of commercial transatlantic aviation, known as the ‘Crossroads of the World’. Many of the prominent international airlines have periodically maintained offices at Gander over the years, including Aeroflot, Lufthansa, British Airways and the national airlines of other nations. As a result of this truly international heritage, today’s residents include individuals or families from most countries on five continents.

History

In June of 1936, workers spilled off the train at Milepost 213 on the Newfoundland Railway. Still incredulous at the task they had been assigned, they set about clearing land for what would become the world’s largest airport, boasting one square mile of tarmac. On January 11, 1938, Captain Douglas Fraser flew a single-engine biplane, Fox Moth VO-ADE, to the first landing at the completed ‘Newfoundland Airport’, now known around the world as Gander International.

With the threat of war in Europe, Gander became a strategic post for the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. Too new to appear on maps, the air base remained shrouded in secrecy as some 20,000 North American-built fighters and heavy bombers were transported overseas.

As many as 10,000 British, Canadian and American servicemen lived in crowded barracks beside and between the runways. Essential services were provided from makeshift quarters wherever a niche could be found and the air base soon took on the appearance of a bustling community. After the war, the airport reverted to civilian control and efforts began to move residents a safer distance from the runways. Construction began in the 1950s on the present townsite. The municipality was incorporated in 1958 and the airport settlement was eventually abandoned.

The vast resources of a world at war had conquered the problems of transatlantic flight and Gander stepped back into its original role as a global hub of civil aviation. Throughout the ‘Jet Age’ of the 50s and 60s, virtually every transatlantic flight required a refueling stop at Gander. The airport terminal became a rest stop for the rich and famous, from the Hollywood who’s who to kings and presidents, and ‘star-gazing’ was a popular local pastime.

While the ‘Cold War’ drew hard lines between eastern-bloc and western nations, Gander remained a safe haven for all, one of the few places where American spyplanes might share the ramp with then-Soviet jetliners. In restaurants and shopping malls, Russian or Cuban voices scarcely raised an eyebrow among residents long accustomed to welcoming the world.

Since its inception, Gander has remained at the forefront of international aviation technology. During the war years, the airport pioneered radio direction-finding, hosted early experiments in aerial refueling and developed a novel instrument landing system; in the ’70s it hosted cold-weather avionics testing for the SST Concorde; today an airside manufacturer produces bonded-composite components for Canada’s new fleet of Cormorant rescue helicopters; and the airport itself serves as a designated alternate landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

The municipality, too, continues to rise to ever new challenges, diversifying to become the regional service centre for some 90,000 people in more than 100 neighbouring communities.

Geography and Climate

girlsbackoningrassThe Town of Gander is located at 48° 56’ N latitude, 54° 34’ W longitude, on a level plateau about 150 metres above sea level. Surrounding countryside consists of boreal forest, lakes, rivers and wetlands with abundant foliage and wildlife. The community overlooks Gander Lake, a deep, cold, freshwater reservoir approximately five kilometres wide by 50 kilometres long. The lake empties into Gander Bay via the Gander River, a scheduled salmon angling river offering spectacular beauty and adventure tourism.

Gander’s geographic position usually allows more temperate weather conditions and far less fog than neighbouring coastal areas. Daily maximum temperatures in February average -3.4 degrees Celsius, with nighttime minimums of -12.3°C. August averages daily highs of 20.6°C and lows of 10.7°C. Snowfall amounts of 80 to 90 centimetres per month are considered normal during the winter, while monthly rainfall amounts of 70 to 100 millimetres can be expected in summer.

While these averages are useful for purposes of comparison, occasional extremes are not unusual. Despite Gander’s inland location, it is still subject to the influences of the warm Gulf Stream meeting the cold Labrador Current in the North Atlantic Ocean off the Newfoundland coast. Summers may be characterized by extended periods of clear skies and above-average temperatures, or by cool temperatures accompanied by rain and drizzle for days at a time. Likewise, residents are equally prepared for occasional bouts of heavy and extended snowfall, and for periods of mild temperatures with little snow accumulation.

As is true throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, the weather is an easy topic for conversation and a ready source of wry humour.

Language

Gander is primarily an English-speaking community, though many residents also speak French as a second language. French is taught in the public school system, with students choosing from regular classroom study or the Intensive Core or Immersion programs.

Due to Gander’s cosmopolitan nature and international influences, the distinctive Newfoundland dialect is less pronounced among longtime residents than elsewhere in the province.

Cost of Living

Housing Costs

Gander offers a range of housing options, whether newcomers choose to rent or buy.

Apartment building units or apartments in private homes generally rent for between $400 and $600 per month, while houses can normally be rented for $600 to $1,000 monthly, although exceptions are not unusual. In the case of rentals, tenants are normally responsible for paying their own utility costs, while the property owner pays property taxes and building maintenance costs, although these terms may vary in specific lease agreements. Landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities are legislated by the Provincial Government as described in the Residential Tenancies Act.

The selling price of homes in Gander ranges from below $100,000 to as high as $500,000, depending on the type and age of the home and a host of other factors. The average purchase price for a home in Gander during 2007 was $141,000. Details on Gander’s real estate market can be found in the “Living in Gander” section of this website.

Fuel Costs

Residential heating sources may include one or more of electrical, oil, propane and wood or wood pellets. Fossil fuel costs, including automotive gasoline and diesel, and residential furnace oil and propane, are regulated throughout the province with maximum prices set by region based on international market indicators. Electricity costs are regulated provincially by a Public Utilities Board.

Food/Clothing Costs

Food and clothing costs are in line with larger municipalities in the province, due largely to healthy competition among the wide selection of local, national and multi-national retailers represented in Gander.

Transportation Costs

Among Gander’s retailers are automobile dealerships representing most manufacturers, as well as several used car dealers. The Town is also served by two taxi companies, with fares set according to geographic zones within the community. Most trips within town cost $5-$6. Meanwhile, Gander is relatively flat and well-planned, and ideal for bicycles from spring through fall. There are also paved pedestrian walkways linking many residential neighbourhoods with main thoroughfares.

Taxes

Property owners in Gander pay Residential Property Tax at a rate of 10.00 mills of the assessed value of the property. Upon application, property tax may be reduced for low income earners on a scale tied to total household income. Residential Water and Sewer Tax is charged only on properties classified as otherwise tax exempt under the Municipalities Act. Those properties are assessed an annual service fee of $500.00.

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