The seaport town of Lewisporte is located at the head of Burnt Bay in the Notre Dame Bay. It is named for Lewis Miller, an enterprising Scotsman who operated a logging company in central Newfoundland.
Settlers first arrived in Lewisporte in 1887 to take advantage of the prosperous fishing, logging, and shipbuilding industries. The first European settlers were attracted to the area by the huge stands of birch, spruce and pine, which graced the shores. When the pioneer of Lewisporte, Robert Woolfrey, first settled here, the stands of white pine were so thick that his 25-year-old son, William George, got lost on his way to Woolfrey’s Pond.
A railway station was built in 1900 at Notre Dame Junction, just six miles south of Lewisporte. With the railway station established, Timber Estates Limited, a sawmill operation, made Lewisporte a shipping location. Producing more than all other Newfoundland sawmills combined, the mill was a major impetus for growth in the town. Thus, Lewisporte’s name was derived from the owner, Lewis Miller.
By taking advantage of the natural resources, population base, and strategic location, a variety of industries established themselves in Lewisporte. Imperial Oil and other oil companies began their operations in the community and harbour facilities were constructed to provide docking and large storage facilities.
During the war years, Lewisporte was an important base of operations for the Canadian Forces. Gander’s strategic location as a ‘jumping off’ point for flights going to Europe brought a larger population to Lewisporte. Three army sites were constructed in Lewisporte to protect the oil supply lines to Gander. By the end of the war, there were 150 families and a population of 821. Rapid commercial and residential growth after the war masked nearly all evidence of military presence.
Lewisporte’s population increased as the town’s transportation and distribution function became more important. In 1947, Lewisporte Wholesalers began operations and in 1949 Steers Limited began their wholesale business in the community. Both the companies acted as suppliers for the entire province. Other companies followed suit, seeing the community as a major distribution centre. Distribution has been the lifeblood of the community and has served to make Lewisporte the hub of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The town was incorporated 1946 and by 1976 the population had increased to 3200. In the 1950’s and 60’s the community made rapid advancements. Water and sewage systems, a high school, a water reservoir, a Canadian National shed and wharf, paved streets, and a local newspaper was added to the town. In 1965, a marine haul out and service centre was established, which served as a wintering and maintenance facility for tuna boats, recreational craft, inshore fishing boats, and other local boats.
Lewisporte has grown from 1965 to a population of nearly four thousand people. Modern banking, financial, legal and medical services have been established, along with restaurants, hotel, and retail trade. Playgrounds and ballparks, along with the ice stadium provides various recreational activities.