By the mid-1950's, Robert's Arm had developed into a local service center. Local tradition says the community was first named "Rabbit's Arm" by people from nearby islands who visited each fall and winter to trap and cut timber. In the 1911 Census, the name Robert's Arm was being used. Local tradition says its name was changed to honor a prominent resident, Mr. John Roberts.
Until the 1900's Robert’s Arm was named Rabbit’s Arm due to the abundance of snowshoe hare in the area; all local rabbits were then sold to a factory located in South Brook. Later on, because of an influential member of the community, Mr. John Roberts, who owned most of the land which is now called the subdivision, had the town named after him which we now call Robert’s Arm.
Mr. Frank Warr from Twillingate is believed to be the first permanent settler of Robert’s Arm. In the 1980's, he owned and operated a schooner building and in the 1900's his son, Charlie, operated a sawmill powered by steam. Other early settlers were the Hewlett's, Rowsell's, Anthony's, Paddock's and Starkes's.
By 1884, the population of Robert’s Arm was just 121. During the early years, the men worked hard. There was no electricity installed until the mid-1960's. The women worked in gardens, helped cure fish, and also cared for their homes and families. When a baby was ready to be born, there were no hospitals so the midwife helped deliver. Mrs. Mary Burton ("Mary-Bob" ~ Husband Robert) was a well-known midwife in the mid-1900's.
In 1878, an ore body was discovered approximately two miles from the North Shore of Crescent Lake. Samples recovered had an uncommonly high content of copper. This proved to be a significant economic boost for the community. Between 1879 and 1881, 1260 tons of ore left the mine. The mine was closed in 1881 because of a disagreement between the manager and owner. A lot of the residents moved away because of the closure of the mine. Later, some returned to work with the fishery while others found work at Pilley’s Island - a nearby community. Yet, other people concentrated on farming. Before the closing of the Pilley’s Island mine, Robert’s Arm farmers sold produce to supplement their income.
The principle denomination of this community was Wesleyan Methodist. A small chapel/school was built in the early 1880's. This building, which was located in the cemetery, served the community until the 1960's when it was then sold to a local resident to be used for a hennery. The Pentecostal Assembly was established in 1937. The first church was a vacant cabin. It was called "The Badger Skin Church" by Mr. Robert W. Parsons. He was the first pastor and person responsible for its establishment but before, services were held by Mrs. Fanny Hewlett from Port Anson. The Salvation Army came to the town in 1946. Services were held in a building that had been floated from Lushes Bight to be used as a store.
In 1960, Robert’s Arm was incorporated as a municipality. The first Mayor was Mr. Fred Morgan and the first Community Clerk was Mr. Nathanial Paddock. In 1964, Robert’s Arm was blessed with a water service and in 1974, they had a sewer service.
The Trans Canada Highway to Robert’s Arm was built in the late 1950's, but the road was not paved until 1975.
The population increased significantly in the 1960's and 70's when more than 20 families moved to town. Robert’s Arm was designated as a growth center under the Newfoundland Resettlement Program. The population today is 900 (in 2008).
Because the residents are so hardworking and enthusiastic when it comes to improving the local economy and over the years tried to promote tourism, in 1986 the Robert’s Arm Tourism Committee was formed. This was the 100th Anniversary of the discovery of the mummified Beothuk child found near Brighton (the committee is known as the Beothuk Trail Committee). In our Library, there are artifacts on display of the Beothuks.