History

Lookout at Indian Head

The town of Stephenville, located on the north shore of St. George’s Bay in southwestern Newfoundland, is 48 degrees north latitude and 58 degrees west longitude. This area was once known as the Acadian Village. From 1848 until 1870, Stephenville was called Indian Head. The name Stephenville was first introduced in 1874. The Acadian Village was a settlement which stretched along the coast from Kippens in the far west to Seal Cove in the far east. This covered a total distance of seven miles.

The Acadian Village consisted of a majority of Roman Catholics who fished and farmed to earn a living. The village was established because of poverty and strife existing in Nova Scotia and the excellent fishing grounds and farm land that western Newfoundland had to offer. Not many details are known about this era.

The Acadian Village was founded in 1844 by two English families. William Hunt and James Penney settled near the Blache River. They were from Margaree, Cape Breton.

A year later, Felix Gallant and his family arrived. They lived in a hut that had been left by visiting French fishermen. In the same year, on September 3, they had a son and named him Stephen. The following year they revisited Margaree to have their child baptized. While there, they told their friends about this new “Paradise” where there was exceptionally good farm land and pleasant weather. He persuaded some of his friends to return to Newfoundland with him. Things were hard during the early years of the town. People did not have enough food or supplies to support themselves. The winter of 1846-1847 was one of the worse that they had experienced. The Gallants and other settlers faced many hardships.

There is still some controversy over how Stephenville got its name. Some believe that Stephen Gallant was the first person born in the area and the town was named after him. However, some believe that Stephen LeBlanc was the first born and that it is after him the town is named.

Since its beginning in May of 1844, Stephenville has grown. The first census report in 1844 cited 103 inhabitants in the area. Today there are over 8,000. Stephenville has grown into an efficient and vibrant community. Today, it is the second largest community on Newfoundland’s west coast. It provides an exceptional quality of life and has a high level of industrial activity.

Bibliography

The following sources are hereby acknowledged as major contributors to the content of this web site:

“1200 Out For Stephenville Air Show.” The Western Star. 21 July 1996.

Brosnan, Father Michael. Pioneer History of St. George’s Diocese.

Cardoulis, John N. A Friendly Invasion. St. John’s: Breakwater, 1990.

A Friendly Invasion II. St. John’s: Breakwater, 1993.

Gale, Frank. “43-Year Dream Fulfilled by Americans at Crash Site.” The Western Star. 27 July 1989.

“Memorial Site is Refurbished.” The Western Star. September 1989.

“Harmon Field Day ’90.” The Georgian. 31 July 1990.

Lefevre, Charles. “Harmon.” Chaslef@syix.com. 21 February 1998.

Polenberg, Richard. “Lend-Lease.” Grolier Academic Encyclopedia. Lorimer, Lawrence T., ed. United States: Grolier International, 1991.

Mackay, W. H. “Harmon Corporation.” Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. Joseph R. Smallwood, ed. St. John’s: Newfoundland Book Publishers, 1967.

MacLeod, Malcolm. “Peace of the Continent – The Impact of Second World War Canadian and American Bases in Newfoundland, Part II : Social Impact.” The Newfoundland Quarterly. Spring 1986.

Morris, Don. “More Milestones in Stephenville History.” The Western Star. 30 June 1990.

“Newfoundland’s Acadian Village: Stephenville.” The Georgian. 1 July 1997.

Pratt, Christopher. “Strip Mined – An Essay.”

Ray, Wayne. “US Military Bases in Newfoundland, Harmon Recreation.” Newfoundland Military Bases: Ernest Harmon Recreation. Http://www.mirror.org/groups/cpa/recreatn.html.

“Returning Fighter Pilot Has Newfoundland Roots.” The Western Star. 6 July 1996.

Smallwood, Joseph R., ed. “Harmon.” Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John’s: Harry Cuff Publications, 1994.

“Stephenville International Airport.” Stephenville International Airport. Http://www.publib.nf.ca/ CAP/west/Stephenville/air_corp/.

Stephenville Library Board & The West Newfoundland Folk Arts Council. Stephenville History & Stephenville Harmon Air Force Base: Vol. I. Port au Port/Bay St. George Heritage Association, 1978.

“Stephenville – Newfoundland’s Acadian Village.” The Evening Telegram. 23 September 1968.

“Sunday Air Show Will Be a Highlight.” The Western Star. 18 July 1996.

“The Town of Stephenville.” Atlantic Chamber Journal. January 1990.

[Further information, located in historical binders, has been obtained from The Kindale Public Library, Stephenville, Newfoundland.]