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, 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, notably Émile Benoît. Additionally, the area's strong Roman Catholic tradition is reflected in the high visibility accorded to churches throughout the peninsula's communities.

As the centre of the province's Franco-Newfoundlander community, the peninsula has been designated the only bilingual district on the island of Newfoundland since 1971.

Below are two historical documents for your viewing.