History of Peterview                                                                  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Discover the history of Peterview that dates all the way back to the 15th century of early settlers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Learn how Peterview was discovered through early settlers, permanent settlement and growth, first civic construction, and the council era.

The Beothuk Indian Camp (Late 1497's)

Early Settlers

Peterview is a historic site due to the original residents, the Beothuk, who travelled to what is now known as Wigwam Point in the summer months for hunting and gathering. When Europeans travelled to Newfoundland in 1497, the Beothuk were found living across the island. The changing seasons meant that obtaining food and raw materials had to be done on a strict schedule. In the warmer months, it would have been possible to hunt seals, fish, and various bird species travelling to places such as Wigwam Point (formerly Sandy Point).

By the 1700s, conflict between the Beothuk and Europeans seem to have become more commonplace, possibly in part due to Europeans encroaching on their land and limiting their access to resources. While some attempts at peace were made, the attacks against the Beothuk for well over a hundred years unequivocally made these attempts seem empty. 

In 1819, John Peyton Sr. led a raid at the Red Indian Lake that led to many deaths, including the husband of Demasduit, after which she was captured. She was renamed Mary March by her captures and, after many attempts to return to her people, worked as a servant for the wife of Peyton Sr. She died of tuberculosis while returning to her people under the orders of the governor.

In 1828, a Beothuk woman named Shanawdithit was sent to St. John’s after living in the home of Peyton Jr. for five years. William Cormack interviewed her where she discussed the practices and history of the Beothuk providing much of knowledge that we possess today as much of it has been lost to time. 

By the 17th century, the Beothuk were falling ill to diseases (such as influenza and smallpox) brought by the settlers to which they had no immunity. While the difficulty faced capturing animals and collecting resources is a significant factor in the demise of the Beothuk, the attacks against them and diseases brought by the Europeans further decimated their population until a woman named Shanawdithit died in 1829, likely being the last of their people.

Permanent Settlement and Growth

Upon returning to Peterview in 1780, John Peyton Sr. built the first home at what is known as Upper Sandy Point. This started the first real settlement in Dominion Point (now known as Peterview). 

Between 1790 and 1830, Peyton Sr. and his family worked in the farming and fishing industries to which he would come to own fishing stations along the length of Exploits River. Peyton Sr. eventually brought his son from England to Newfoundland to become a partner in the family’s lucrative trading business. In 1818, Peyton Jr. was appointed Justice of the Peace for Northern Newfoundland and, in 1836, Stipendiary Magistrate for Twillingate and Fogo District.

In 1830, a French lumber mill was built in Dominion Point. This mill exported timber to St. John's where it was used to make paper because it was there that the main port in Newfoundland was located. Over the next two years, the community of Dominion Point began to thrive, and the first general store was built. It was owned and operated by Mr. Lewis and Mr. Winsor. The original store records are still in existence at the Peterview Heritage Museum. In 1862, another French lumber mill was built operated by a company from Quebec that exported lumber to St. John's by schooner.

John Peyton Jr.  (1792-1879)

Students of Peterview School (1933)

First Civic Construction

The population has grown significantly since 1884 when Dominion Point (now known as Peterview) had only 32 people. Over the next six years, the population grew close to 100, enough that a Prayer House (Barracks) was built in 1910 by the citizens from their own logs. In 1911, the first Salvation Army officer, Lieutenant Sweetapple, was appointed. He would go on to become the first schoolteacher and teach in the Prayer House.

By 1921, the population of what was then called Peter’s Arm increased to 362 people. Between 1911 and 1940, the population grew enough to support the operation of the first school. This happened under the direction of Envoy R. W. Abbott and the school taught from kindergarten to grade 11, which was the final grade at this time.

In 1951, Dominion Point was renamed “Peter's Arm South”, by R. W. Abbott, who happened to be a clergyman, teacher and first chairman of the council. Five years after this, the town was renamed “Peterview” because of the beautiful view of the bay, known as the Bay of Exploits.

In 1963, the school was deliberately burned down by arsonists and a new structure was built in 1964 and then opened in 1965. This school was permanently closed in June 1995 as the result of many government cutbacks.

A proper road was started in the 1950’s, spanning from the old Botwood highway going as far as the Peter’s Point area. The road was partially paved in 1967 and completed to Wigwam Point a couple of years later. It was completely repaved in 2001.

In May of 1964, a water line was connected from Botwood and the water was officially turned on. It did not span the whole town right away and was added to over the years to include more of Peterview. Prior to this, obtaining drinking water meant bringing it across the bay from Botwood. 

During 1964 and 1965, Peterview's first Fire Brigade was formed, with the first Chief being Harry Pope. The Town Hall was built through Federal government projects over a period of years, beginning in 1972.

The Council Era

On October 23, 1956, the first Community Welfare Committee was set up to take care of the affairs of the community. This was the beginning of the community council. The members of the first committee were:

The appointed council continued until November, 1982, when the first general election was held. The first members to be elected were:

In 2005, the council decided it would hold, for the first time, a separate election for Mayor. James Samson (incumbent) and Lorie Brown ran for the position with James Samson being the eventual successor.

First Appointed Board of Trustee Members (1956)