Englee has a long historical attachment to the fishery. It has formed the basis of Englee’s economy since it was established. Because of its good anchorage, well-sheltered harbours, and fish-filled waters, Englee came to be used by both the French and English as a summer fishing base; they would come to Englee in the summer and return home in the fall.
Englee became the permanent home of some of these European settlers and continued to grow and prosper throughout the 1800’s 1900’s, mainly due to the lucrative inshore cod fishery. That is until 1992, and like many small Newfoundland out ports, Englee was hit hard by the Cod Moratorium. Many fishermen were forced to leave the fishing industry and of those who decided to stay, most had to change their focus from the inshore fishery to the offshore fishery. Today there still are a few small boat fishermen who depend on the capelin, lump, crab, squid, etc. for their livelihood but, most fishermen work on large 55 to 65 foot vessels that travel hundred of miles offshore to catch the much-valued crab and shrimp.
Englee was incorporated as a town in 1948, but the French were active in the fishery there in the 1860s and 1870s. Most of the area permanent settlers moved to the community between 1870 and 1900.These residents were fishermen, builders, and trappers and they also grew their own vegetables and raised some livestock. In the late 1880s Baxter Crocker opened the first fishing establishment in the town.
In the 1950s the Canada Bay Cold Storage Company Limited began a fresh-frozen codfish and fresh salmon operation. The fishery is still the main employer in the community.
Englee began as a French base during the "French Shore" era. As such it was a little more than a sheltered harbour for bateau refuge and drying of cod. No year round settlers resided until English fishing crews from the Twillingate/Fogo area depleted the cod stocks near their home ports and ventured northward in search of better fishing grounds. No doubt the rich cod fishery word spread and drew others to move northward. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, the "Englishman's Place" began summer residency. Herny Gillard was the first to take up permanent residency in 1836 and took care of the French rooms.
Soon after the French stopped using Port aux Aigles and used nearby Gouffre Harbour instead.
Shortly thereafter Hendcock, Lane, Dunn, Clothier, and Reed were surnames of the year round residents and Englee began to expand. The early 1900s saw the establishment of factories with a cannery, brine freezing plant and soon after a fresh fish freezing plant. Cod, salmon, squid, and caplin were processed and frozen with ample storage space. From time to time large freezer cargo ships would dock and be loaded to transport the frozen product to market. Englee was a boom town with lots of employment.