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Pilley's Island, Newfoundland

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1887 [unknown]
Location: Twillingate, Newfoundland, Canadamap
Surname/tag: newfoundland
Profile manager: Brad Foley private message [send private message]
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Distant from the best fishing grounds further out the Bay, no settlement was recorded at Pilley's Island until the opening of a pyrite mine in 1887. The island is known to have been frequented by Dorset Eskimo and the Beothuk. Some early boat-building had taken place at Spencer's Dock, to the west of Pilley's Island Harbour. The island is thought to have been named for one of the seasonal visitors[1].

In the 1860s Captain Philip Cleary staked a mineral claim at Bumblebee Bight, hoping to develop a copper mine, though the island's orebody was chiefly pyrite. In 1885 Maine and Lewis Mills of New Brunswick bought the claim and the next year the company began mining. Tradition says that prior to the opening of the mine there were at least two families living on the island; however, church records have no record of births, deaths or marriages at Pilley's Island until 1887. By 1891, when the mine was in full production, the population was 411.

Early Families

The earliest families on Pilley's Island came from Twillingate, Change Islands and Herring Neck. Some of these families had earlier come to the western part of the Bay to work a copper mine at Tilt Cove.

The first clergyman to serve Pilley's Island was Methodist James Pincock and in 1896 the Methodists built the community's first church. Later the Salvation Army, Church of England and Roman Catholic Church built churches. After the mine closed, the Church of England disappeared and only a few Roman Catholics remained. The Methodist and Roman Catholic churches operated schools, and after 1903 the Salvation Army also operated one. The United Church and Salvation Army continued to operate separate schools until 1960. In 1967, high school students began to attend the Integrated Central High School at Roberts Arm. In 1977 Dorset Collegiate was opened on Pilley's Island, near the causeway to Triton.


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  1. Wikipedia article for Pilley's Island, Newfoundland. Accessed 2018.

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