Port au Port Peninsula
Port au Port Peninsula is a roughly triangular peninsula with 130 km of rocky coastline but no harbours, joined to southwestern Newfoundland west of STEPHENVILLE. It was named Ophor portu, "port of rest," by the BASQUES. An eroded highland with hills to the south and sloping lowlands on the north side, the once heavily forested peninsula is bounded by Port au Port Bay, the Gulf of ST LAWRENCE and St George's Bay, and terminates in Cape St George in the south and fingerlike Long Point 50 km north. Scattered settlement occurred around the peninsula's shores by the mid-1800s, though it continued as part of the FRENCH SHORE until 1904.
The population represents a more varied ethnic and linguistic mix than is commonly found in Newfoundland, with the highest proportion of French-speaking settlement on the island. The economy has been based on farming, fishing, woodcutting and limestone mining (1913-1964) at Aguathuna and Lower Cove (1985 to the present). From 1940 to 1966, many people in the peninsula's more than 20 small communities were employed at the United States air force base in Stephenville. A paper mill was then the region's largest employer from 1981-2005. Offshore there is oil and natural gas exploration.