St. Barbe was named after a second century Breton martyr by French migratory fishermen who used the area as an anchorage when following the fish northward. In the 1800s, it was used by the Genge family of Anchor Point as a fishing station. The first census was taken in 1874, and the population was 4.
The Genge family lived at Anchor Point until at least 1894, and the community does not appear in the census again until 1911 when the Doyle family moved there, increasing the population to five people. In the 1940s, the Toope family moved to St. Barbe increasing the population to 11.
After the Northern Peninsula highway was completed in the 1960s, families began to move there from Current Island, increasing the population to 59. In 1966, St. Barbe became the Newfoundland terminal for the ferry service between Blanc Sablon, Quebec and the Labrador Straits