The mercantile saltfish premises at Battle Harbour were established by the firm of John Slade & Company of Poole, England in the early 1770s. Lying just north of the old French Shore, Battle Harbour served as the gateway for Newfoundlanders seeking to fish in the resource rich waters of Labrador.
The local population increased rapidly after 1820 when Newfoundland fishing schooners adopted Battle Harbour as their primary port of call and made it the recognized capital of the Labrador floater fishery. Battle Harbour remained in the hands of Slade & Co. until 1871, and during this time became a settled community, dominated by the fish merchants, but with its own evolving institutions, especially schools and churches.
In 1871 the Slades sold Battle Harbour to Baine, Johnston & Co., Ltd. who operated the site in much the same manner until 1955. The activity of these two firms at Battle Harbour serve as an accurate microcosm of the history of Newfoundland and Labrador's fishery over almost two centuries.
In 1955 Baine, Johnston & Co., Ltd. sold the premises to the Earle Brothers Freighting Services who continued the site's operation until the decline in the inshore fishery at the start of the 1990s.
At that time the site was turned over to the Battle Harbour Historic Trust. The community's permanent residents had been relocated under a government-sponsored resettlement program from 1965 to 1970, although a number of families still use the site as a seasonal home.