Pinware's History

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Pinware is an incorporated Town in Southern Labrador, between West St. Modeste and Red Bay.
The name is a corruption of Pied Noir(1) (black foot) said to be from the shape of a rock found at the mouth of Black Rock Brook (No citation(2)).  The Pinware River has been formerly known as Riviere des Francois(1) and Pirouette River (No citation).

Some of the better timber stands in the region are located along the Pinware River, which is also known for salmon.  Artifacts discovered adjacent to the town of Pinware indicate, from radiocarbon dating, that Pinware Hill is one of the earliest Palaeo Indian archaeological sites in the province, dating back nearly 9000 years(3). Many different Aboriginal cultures lived in the area of Pinware from time to time. The longest time of habitation was probably during the Maritime Archaic period. A burial monument near L’anse Amour, dating to 7500 years ago, is attributed to the Maritime Archaic and is the oldest such mound in North America, maybe even the world.  Later, Pre-Dorset Palaeo-Eskimos used the rich marine resources found at Pinware. They were followed by the Groswater Palaeo-Eskimos and then the Dorset Paleo-Eskimo cultures who also utilized the rich marine resources while continuing their migration southward to the Island of Newfoundland. Europeans were attracted to the area in the 16th century for the rich marine resources just as the Indigenous peoples were.

The Basque who operated one of the New World’s earliest whaling stations at Red Bay(4), more than likely travelled to Pinware for various reasons, one of which may have been firewood. Jacques Cartier may have visited the area in 1534.   By the 1600s some French fishermen lived in big summer houses, caught & dried their fish, and barked their twine in a big iron barking pot that can still be seen at Ship Head.  Pierre Constantin, a merchant, was given control of the area in 1715. A trading post was opened and the seal hunt and salmon fishery were integral to its operation. Later, the English merchants of Noble and Pinson established a post there.

The first year-round European settlers were probably the family of an Irishman, John O'Dell, who made their way to Pinware via Carbonear in the late 1700s.  Some of the first houses are said to have been built from lumber salvaged from a shipwreck. The ship's bell was placed in Pinware's first Roman Catholic Church, built in 1910, one of the first churches on the Labrador Coast.  It was torn down in the early 1950's.(5)

The population of Pinware grew quite slowly, from 12 in 1857 to 38 in 1869 and 70 in 1949. By the 1890's there were over 50 people. The population in 2002 was approximately 144 people, and dropped to 114 by 2006.  Some families were resettled here in the 1950s and 1960s, mainly from East St. Modeste and Carrol Cove. In 1965 a concrete bridge was built over the Pinware River. The next year it was possible to travel by road from Pinware to surrounding communities. Pinware was incorporated as a town in 1978.  By 1980 Pinware also had a small salt fish plant, a community wharf and a building supply business.  The fishery was and is important to the town's economy. Many people relied upon the selling of bait to the French and Americans in the early years as there main source of income. In the winter the settlers moved to the Pinware River to hunt and trap and to be nearer to the fuel supply.

Common family names in Pinware include Butt, O'Dell, and Pike.
The town is located along Route 510 in Labrador, between West St. Modeste and Red Bay.

(1)  As per 1753 map of the Gulf of St. LawrenceSee also its cropped section, indicating clearly "Ance au Pied Noir" (Pied Noir Bay) and "R. des François" (French River).
This has been denied by Blanc-Sablon, Qc, local historian Antonio Cormier who claims that it was named after a "Capitaine Piednoir" commanding the ship "Jean-Eugène", who would have sailed from St-Malo, France, to fish in the Strait of Belle Isle.  When challenged for a reference, none could be provided.  Our searches accross Internet proved infructuous.
(3)  Source:  Inside Newfoundland and Labrador Archeology

(4) Source Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador
(5) Source Labrador Straits Museum