Growing Great Places Together

Town of Pilley's Island, Newfoundland & Labrador - 2024 Atlantic Participant

The community of Pilley’s Island is rich in history. A mining town in the late 19th and early 20th century, Pilley’s Island became a hub for the Northeastern coast of Newfoundland. Great ships hauled ore to the US eastern seaboard and ferried adventurous Americans and Canadians back to explore the untamed coastline and Interior of the Country of Newfoundland. Forward thinking ownership of the mining operation installed Electric lights throughout the mine, making Pilley’s Island the first place outside of St. John’s to have electricity.

Newfoundlands First Rhode Scholar, Sydney Herbert, was educated here in Pilley’s Island. While the mining operation brought doctors, in 1911, Sir Wilfred Grenfell opened Newfoundland’s third Hospital here. We also had the telegraph office and the courthouse. When the call to serve King and Country was made at the start of the First World War, Pilley’s Island sent about sixty volunteers. Roughly 10% of its population at the time.

Those things are gone now and Pilley’s Island, like most of Outport Newfoundland, has an ageing and declining population. However, we embrace our past to provide hope for our future. Three years ago, through the efforts of our Heritage Society and with the support of our Town Council, the Methodist/United Church, Schoolhouse and cemetery have been registered as Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Structures and tourists have been enjoying these facilities for the last 25 years.

We now have a walking trail, Prospectors Path, that extends around the old mine site and includes a beautiful vantage point that overlooks the community. With tourism growing, with outside parties purchasing and looking to develop property as well as former residents returning and taking on leadership roles in the community, our prospects are looking up for the first time in a long time. So much so, you could say, we are a community in bloom.