Pinware was incorporated as a town in 1978. The community has been formerly known as Riviere des Francois, Pirouette River, and Black Bay. It is believed the name is a corruption of Baie Noire (Black Bay) or Pied Noire (black foot) from the shape of a rock found at the mouth of Black Rock Brook.
The first settlers of the area were the Palaeo-Indians around 9000 years ago. Their earlier sites mark the location of one of the earliest archaeological sites in the province. Jacques Cartier may have visited the area in 1534, and by the 1600s the French were fishing in the area. Pierre Constantin, a merchant, was given control of the area in 1715.
Later, the English merchants of Noble and Pinson established a post there. The first permanent settler was probably John O'Dell. It is believed the first houses in the area were built from the wood of a wrecked ship. One of the first churches on the Labrador Coast was built here as well.
The fishery was and is important to the town's economy. Many people relied upon the selling of bait to the French and Americans in the early years as there main source of income. In the winter the settlers moved to the Pinware River to hunt and trap and to be nearer to the fuel supply.
The population of the community grew slowly. In 1857 there were 12 residents, in 1949 there were 70 residents. Some families were resettled here in the 1950s and 1960s, mainly from East St. Modeste and Carrol Cove. In 1965 a bridge was built over the Pinware River making travelling in the Straits area easier