Clarenville is a Canadian town on the east coast of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Clarenville was incorporated in 1951 and is located in the Shoal Harbour valley fronting an arm of the Atlantic Ocean called Random Sound.
The town grew in importance after it became a junction on the Newfoundland Railway where a branch line to the Bonavista Peninsula left the main line. The construction of the Trans-Canada Highway through the community in the 1960s resulted in it becoming a local service centre for central-eastern Newfoundland, serving 96,000 people living in 90 communities within a 100 km radius. Clarenville is centrally located and within two hours' driving time of 70% of the province’s population.
The town is a natural gateway to the Discovery Trail, extending down the Bonavista Peninsula to Trinity and Bonavista, reputed sight of the first landing of European explorer John Cabot. The trail is a panorama of scenery, historic sites, coastal towns and villages.
There is no definite date for the first settlement of what is now Clarenville. William Cowan owned a sawmill at Lower Shoal Harbour around 1848 and this was bought by Joseph Tilley and James Summers of Hants Harbour. They settled here. Settlers also arrived at Dark Hole ( or Dark Harbour). The families that made up this community were the Balsoms, Pearces, Vardys, and Seawards. Settlers also arrived at Brook Cove ( the Burseys ), Broad Cove ( the Strongs, Adeys), and Red Beach ( the Stanleys ). These five communities became part of a new community known as Clarenceville in 1892 when the railway came through. There are two versions of the origin of Clarenville's name. It has been attributed to a memorial to the Duke of Clarence, eldest son of the then Prince of Wales ( later King Edward VII ) who died in 1892. The other version is that it was named for a son of Prime Minister Sir William Whiteway. However, Sir William had no son by that name. By 1901 Clarenville was the way everyone spelled the name and it has remained that way.
John Tilley and his family were the first settlers of Lower Shoal Harbour. They traveled from Hants Harbour in 1848 because of the abundance of timber here. "Scholar John " many people referred to him as, because he taught himself how to read and write. As a young man he married Elizabeth Bursey of Old Perlican and they had four sons and six daughters. Being one of the earliest Justices of the Peace licensed to perform marriages in Newfoundland, John Tilley performed the marriage of his own daughter. If we were to look in church records today, we would find that Scholar John's name would appear several times in the late 1830s and 1840s when there was apparently no minister or missionary available. When the Tilleys first arrived the first thing they had to do was to build a log cottage which would be a temporary structure. They later built a saw mill so they could build a standard size home. Along with the saw mill, the Tilleys became involved with fox farming, gardening, coopering, blacksmithing, fishing and fish canning. John Tilley and Sons were the tinning operation to tin salmon in Newfoundland (the first salmon was tinned by Tilley and Sons). Shortly after Scholar John tinned his first salmon he learned of a fishery exhibition. He sent a sample to the exhibition and received a prize in the form of a bronze medal with the inscription: " Warranted to keep free from taint and to retain its purity and nutritious quality, in any climate for many years." Later, Scholar John, Aaron and Moses Tilley ( sons ) with help from John's son-in-law David Palmer, built the first church in Shoal Harbour.
In 1993, Clarenville and Shoal Harbour were amalgamated.