This place was known as the Acadian village, between 1848 and 1870. The populace of the village consisted of Roman Catholics who eked out a living, farming and fishing. The town's population continued to grow because of the stable economy. It was home to Ernest Harmon AFB, which was operated by the United States Air Force from 1941 to 1966.
The base precipitated an economic boom of sorts on Newfoundland's southwest coast during the 1940s. The village of Stephenville grew from a hamlet of several hundred people with no paved streets, side walks, water or sewage system in 1941 into a modern town of over 5,000 by the mid-1950s. By the time Ernest Harmon AFB closed in 1966, the town had more than doubled in size, partly as a result of the provincial government's forced resettlement policy toward residents of outports. The town uses many former USAF structures for housing, recreation and entertainment.
If travelling by car, you first have to take the Marine Atlantic Ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques. From there it's a 2-hour drive north on the Trans-Canada Highway to Stephenville. Turn off the Trans-Canada Highway onto provincial Route 460 - White's Road (also known as Hansen Highway) or Route 490 - Stephenville Access Road. Both roads lead into downtown Stephenville.
You can reach Stephenville easily. Firstly, if visiting from the mainland or anywhere off the island, you can reach Stephenville by air. Stephenville has its own international airport with connections to just about anywhere, but first you have to connect through Halifax or St. John's as they have the largest airports within the Atlantic region.
- 1 Stephenville International Airport (YJT IATA), 13 Tennessee Dr, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Provincial Airlines offers daily service to this airport year-round. Sunwing offers weekly service to and from Toronto Pearson International during tourist season.
Once in Stephenville you can get out and enjoy the region by car or on foot. But be very cautious as Stephenville has the highest crime rate in the province (with the exception of Labrador's small outports). Keep an eye open for common violent attacks and mischief. Do not pick up hitchhikers on any occasion.
The town no public transportation system besides taxis. Two taxi companies—Bluebird and Crown—offer a flat rate of $8 for in town trips, $10 for a round trip and an additional $1 for each stop.
By car you can take Route 460 along the French Ancestors route around the Port-au-Port peninsula, Newfoundland's only bilingual region. On the peninsula make sure you drop by Sheaves Cove for some beautiful scenery; it's near the limestone mine at Lower Cove.
If you prefer to walk, then get out and explore the town, walk through and see the former American Air Force Base, with streets named after American states.
There are various sites around town that show old French heritage, later American influence, and ongoing fishing history.
- Port-au-Port Walking Trail (in Port-au-Port, 20 minutes from Stephenville; go west at the Gravels, just before Abbott's and Haliburton's.). A nice hiking trail.
- 1 Hartery's Family Restaurant, 109 Main St, ☏ . Good home-style food.
- 2 Emile's Restaurant, 44 Queen St (At the Day's Inn.), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa Su 8AM-10PM. Good home-style food.
- 3 Domino Pizza House, 54 Main St, ☏ . This local restaurant—unaffiliated with the international chain— opened in the 1950s and is known locally for its great pizza and submarine sandwiches and friendly atmosphere.
- 4 Mary Brown's, West Street, ☏ . No visit to Newfoundland is complete until you have tried this chain's fried chicken.
Newfoundland is known for great drinking, and Stephenville is no exception. Bars and clubs are located throughout town. There are a handful of bars along Main St.
- 1 Days Inn, 44 Queen St (Next to Stephenville Mall.), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. A chain hotel with standard rooms. Singles $165.
- 2 The Dreamcatcher Lodge, 14 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: (reservations). Luxury accommodations. Singles $100.
- 3 Hotel Stephenville, 19 Oregon Dr (On the base.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4 Keyano Motel, 186 Hansen Memorial Hwy (north of town), ☏ . A 10-room motel.
- 5 Barachois Pond Provincial Park, Stephenville Crossing (30 minutes east of town on the Trans-Canada Highway.), ☏ . A park and campground.
- 6 Zenzville Campground, 446A Kippens Road (Just outside of town in Kippens.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This full-service campground even has barachois.
- Harmon Seaside Park (Along the beach of Bay St. George.). A park and campground.