Burgeo stands on an ocean peninsula, surrounded by islands. Canadian nature writer and naturalist Farley Mowat lived in Burgeo during his time in Newfoundland.
Indigenous peoples such as Dorset Inuit and Beothuk First Nations peoples frequented the many bays of the local archipelago and adjacent mainland. The Micmac First Nations were fishing and hunting in this part of the island for several hundred years from their settlements in what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
It is believed by some that the area was discovered by the Portuguese and given the name Virgio; this became Burgeo, possibly a British pronunciation or adaptation. In 1756, Captain James Cook, who was surveying and exploring the local islands, experienced a solar eclipse. In recognition of this astonishing event he named one of the isles "Eclipse Island". In the 1790s first influx of permanent European settlers arrived to make a living fishing the inshore waters mainly for cod.
The town has been in the fishing industry for most of its existence. The first fishing merchant to setup an operation here in the early 1800s. In the 1940s a modern fish processing facility was built in the Short Reach and Burgeo heralded in a new period of growth that continued unabated for the next five decades. During the 1950s, Spencer Lake started a large fishing enterprise located at
In 1962 author Farley Mowat and his wife Claire took up residence here for nearly five or six years. Their books A Whale For The Killing, The Boat Who Wouldn't Float, and Outport People had Burgeo and local residents as their backdrop.
Burgeo and its neighbours relied and depended upon a daily coastal boat and ferry service. These boats traversed the south coast from Port Aux Basques to Fortune disembarking at every inhabited port. This was for the most part a life line to the outside world for these isolated communities. In 1979 the town became connected to the rest of the province by a 146-km road commonly known as the Caribou Trail.
Burgeo is the southernmost point on Route 480, which leads north to Barachois Pond Provincial Park, east of St. Georges on the Trans-Canada Highway. Route 480 ends at the local ferry dock; a pair of coastal ferries continue onward to Ramea, Grey River and Francois.
- Burgeo Bus Line (Stew's Bus Line), ☏ . Corner Brook to Burgeo.
The entire town is about ten blocks across, end to end. One could tour on foot or hail the one taxi, South Coast Taxi (+1 709 886-2482).
A docking facility for small craft provides access to showers, electricity and high speed Internet.
- Burgeo Centennial Memorial Museum, 2 Centennial Street, ☏ . Jun&Aug: daily 9AM-7PM. Housed in the former community library, the museum focuses on the 400-year history of Burgeo and the surrounding area. Exhibits at the museum showcase artifacts from a variety of ships which once used the harbour. Other artifacts relate to carpentry, the inshore fishery, shipbuilding and maintenance, domestics, and furniture. Wheelchair accessible. Free.
- 1 Sandbanks Provincial Park, Park Road, ☏ . The park is named for its undulating sand dunes and long expanses of flat, sandy beaches which are some of the most magnificent on the island portion of the province. This park is also home to the endangered Piping Plover. Open late May to mid-Sep. 7 km of hiking trails, swimming area, playground.
- Boating, kayaking and scuba diving
- Cross-country ski trail
- Fishing for Atlantic salmon in nearby rivers, brook trout and landlocked salmon in ponds and lakes, cod in the Atlantic
- Hunting for moose, bear and caribou
- Walking trails at Aaron’s Arm, at a lookout in the centre of town and within Sandbanks Provincial Park.
- 2 Layden Lake Outfitters, Grandy's Brook, ☏ . Riverside lodge, trout and salmon fishing, guides, full-time cook.
- Sand and Sea Festival. Annual, last week of July.
There is a bank, grocery store, clothing store, drug store, hardware store and automotive service station.
- 1 Seaview Lounge, 28 Main St., ☏ . 5PM-2AM. A local bar.
- 1 Burgeo Haven, 111 Reach Road, ☏ , toll-free: . B&B Inn on the Sea with boathouse and floating dock on Atlantic Ocean, local and coastal tours, cod and mackerel fishing in season, 3.5 stars (Canada Select), smoke-free, pet-free, full/continental breakfast, wi-fi, fax. $110-120.
- 2 Gillett's Motel, 1 Inspiration Road, ☏ , fax: . The Galley Restaurant serves fresh fish (pan fried cod, salmon, scallops, and other species in season) packaged locally, along with soups and sandwiches, platters, turkey, roast beef, pork chops and prime rib steak, home-made pie or the speciality of the day.
- 3 Sandbanks Provincial Park, ☏ , toll-free: . Thirty unserviced campsites, showers, toilets, laundry, RV dump station, picnic area, hiking trails, playground and 7km of unsupervised sand beach on Swimming Pond.
There is a post office (postcode A0N 2H0) and a local library with a high-speed Internet connection.