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The town was first settled by the English in 1610, when Sir George Calvert obtained a grant of land on which he built Carbonear Island House. The name Carbonear comes from the word "Carboneras", meaning coal or charcoal burners. In 1836, it had a population of 1,600 and was incorporated as a town. It became an important fishing port for Newfoundland's Grand Banks fishery and hosted many foreign vessels engaged in that industry (including American ships during wartime). In 1879 there were more than 50 schooners based at Carbonear with about 10% being owned locally; most were under 100 tons but some exceeded 200 tons . By 1911 its population had reached 2,000 people .