Talk:Port au Port Peninsula

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Geography

The peninsula extends into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is joined to Newfoundland by a narrow isthmus connecting at the village of Port au Port. It is bounded on the south by St. George's Bay, the western side by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the northwestern side by Port au Port Bay.

With a rocky shoreline measuring approximately 130 km in length, the peninsula extends approximately 40 km west from its isthmus to Cape St. George and northwest 50 km to the fingerlike Long Point which by itself is approximately 25 km in length. The eastern shore of the peninsula is irregular, jutting into Port au Port Bay.

The Port au Port Peninsula is located on the western edge of the heavily eroded Appalachian Mountain chain which runs along Newfoundland's west coast. There are no natural harbours along the peninsula's rocky coastline. The peninsula was once heavily forested but many areas along its shores have been cleared for subsistence farming.

The southern shore is hilly with the northern shore having a sloping lowland extending to a low rise along the centre of the eastern part of the peninsula. The geological structure is complex with the peninsula's soils dating to the middle Cambrian to early Ordovician continental margin, creating a carbonate platform of limestone, shale, and sandstone. The heavily folded geological structure in the area has been identified as having an unknown amount of petroleum reserves.

History

The area was named "Ophor portu" (port of rest) by Basque fishermen during the 16th-17th centuries. French and Basque fishermen used the west coast of Newfoundland, including the Port au Port Peninsula, for seasonal fishing settlements, however some began permanently inhabiting the area.

During and after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and Treaty of Paris in 1763, France retained the right to use of the west coast of the island. This area came to be known as the "French Shore" and the Port au Port Peninsula was at its centre.

Scattered settlement continued in the area until 1904 when France relinquished its right of use to the "French Shore". The Port au Port Peninsula represents the most varied ethnic and linguistic mix in the entire island of Newfoundland, with the highest proportion of French-speaking settlement on the island (15%).

The French minority comprised of a mix of Acadian, French and Basque has had an important influence on the area's culture. Newfoundland's unique folk music has been somewhat influenced by musicians from the Port au Port Peninsula. Additionally, the area's strong Roman Catholic tradition is reflected in the high visibility accorded to churches throughout the peninsula's communities.

Since 1971 the peninsula has been designated the only bilingual district on the island of Newfoundland.

Economy

The Port au Port Peninsula's economy is based on natural resources, namely fishing. Limited forestry takes place in the unsettled areas of the interior and a small amount of subsistence farming takes place along coastal areas. Many residents of the peninsula, particularly the communities at the eastern end near the isthmus, work in nearby Kippens and Stephenville.

Beginning in 1900 a limestone quarrying operation was established at Aguathuna, near the peninsula's isthmus where the Table Head mountain ridge extends from the Lewis Hills. The limestone was used by Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation at a steel mill in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The quarry was closed in 1966 following DOSCO's financial difficulties.

From 1941-1966, many people in the eastern end of the peninsula were employed at Ernest Harmon AFB in nearby Stephenville.

From the 1970s to present a major limestone quarry began operating at Lower Cove employing 30-40 people.

In the 1980s-1990s, petroleum companies began exploring the peninsula for oil. Some deposits were discovered in recoverable quantities and limited production wells are in place at some locations. Geologists have estimated that a much larger deposit exists deeper and possibly off shore from the peninsula in the 400-500 million barrel range, however exploration drilling has not yet confirmed this theory.

Today travellers access the area using the Marine Atlantic ferry service to Channel-Port aux Basques or with Sunwing, Sky Service and Provincial Airlines to the Stephenville Airport.'Bold text