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Carbonear is a town in the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It overlooks the west side of Conception Bay and had a history long tied to fishing and shipbuilding. Since the late 20th century, its economy has changed to emphasize education, health care and retail. There were 4,739 people living in Carbonear in 2011; this is up from 4,723 in 2006.HistoryThe town of Carbonear is one of the oldest permanent settlements in Newfoundland and among the oldest European settlements in North America. The harbour appears on early Portuguese maps as early as the late 1500s as Cabo Carvoeiro (later anglicized as Cape Carviero). There are a number of different theories about the origin of the town's name. Possibly from the Spanish word "carbonera" (charcoal kiln); Carbonera, a town near Venice, Italy where John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) had been resident; or from a number of French words, most likely "Charbonnier" or "Carbonnier".In the late 20th century, historian Alwyn Ruddock of the University of London, one of the world's foremost experts on John Cabot's expeditions to the New World, suggested that a group of reformed Augustinian friars, led by the high-ranking Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis, accompanied Cabot on his second voyage to reach North America in 1498. (Italian bankers had helped finance Cabot's previous expeditions.) The friars stayed to establish a mission community in Newfoundland for the Augustinian order of the Carbonara. She believed that the settlement may have been short-lived but built a church. The modern name of the town may be derived from the order and its church. If true, Carbonear would have been the first Christian settlement of any kind in North America, and the site of the oldest, and only, medieval church built on the continent. Evan Jones of the University of Bristol is leading further investigations of Dr Ruddock's claims to find additional evidence with colleagues in what is known as The Cabot Project.
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