Port-au-Port Peninsula | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Port-au-Port Peninsula

Port-au-Port peninsula is a roughly triangular peninsula with 130 km of rocky coastline but no harbours. The peninsula is joined to southwestern Newfoundland via a strip of land west of Stephenville. Port-au-Port is home to Newfoundland’s oldest francophone communities (see Francophones of Newfoundland and Labrador).


Port-au-Port Peninsula is composed of 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. The peninsula goes from Cape St George in the south to the finger-like 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.

Population and Economy

Port-au-Port’s population represents a more varied ethnic and linguistic mix than is commonly found in Newfoundland. The peninsula has the highest proportion of French-speaking settlement on the island. (See Francophones of Newfoundland and Labrador.)

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 between 1981 and 2005. There is offshore oil and natural gas exploration present around the peninsula.