Fleur-de-Lys is located at the very tip of the Baie Verte peninsula; it takes about an hour to drive from the Trans Canada Highway on route 410. The community has a sheltered harbour that has been in use since approximately 4500 years ago. This area was first in habited by the Maritime Archaic Indians, the next group were the Grosswater Paleo-Eskimo around 3000 years ago and than the Middle Dorset at around 2000 years ago. The Dorset used the soft soapstone found in the community to manufacture cooking pots, bowls and small oil lamps. The large soapstone quarry has been studied by archaeologist since 1915 but it was not until 1996 that the site was awarded National Historic Site Status.
Today you can visit the new Interpretation Center located adjacent the Quarry and view artifacts and exhibits from many of the cultures that lived in the community. Archaeologists continue their work in Fleur-de-Lys and on the Baie Verte Peninsula, inquire at the museum on where the digs are located.
Fleur-de-Lys is becoming a well known tourist attraction on the Baie Verte Peninsula. A lot of the visitors like to watch the icebergs, whales and sea birds that frequent the coast throughout the year. The hiking trail program in Fleur-de-Lys caters to all levels of visitors, from easy trails to the more difficult trails, all are maintained yearly and a brochure of the trail system can be found at the Interpretation Center.
The name Fleur-de-Lys is a French derived name, which was given to the area by seasonal French fishermen.
A rock formation 820 feet high which has three hummocks is said to have resembled the French Fleur-de-Lys, its national symbol and reminder of homeland.
French fishing ties have been noted from the 1500’s to the early 1900’s. During this time the French occupied the mid-sized harbour as a summer fishing station. In the winters between 1800 and 1850 they needed to protect French interests in the fishing community and they hired guardians. The guardians were provided with surplus food stocks in return they would look after the French fishing gear.
Oral history in Fleur-de-Lys relates that 2 brothers, Robert and Michael Walsh, were the community’s first settlers. The first census was taken in 1857. Fleur-de-Lys’ population was 30 people – 3 Roman Catholic families. By 1874 the number of families doubled. Ten years later the population had increased to 126 still consisting of all Roman Catholic families.
Sealing vessels were reported operating out of Fleur-de-Lys in 1888 when the industry reached its peak. The great seal haul occurred in 1888 with the killing of 12, 000 seals at near by Partridge Point, which is also a historic site full of prehistoric artifacts. Sealing continues to experience its ups and downs as a striving industry.
During the late 1800’s English settlement and fishing interests at Fleur-de-Lys finally out grew the French occupation of the settlement
In the early 1900’s interest in mineral began. Molybdenite and lead were explored yet the outcome proved to be of no value to the community. No other commercial mining was done until 1981.
The economy of Fleur-de-Lys was based on mining, fishing, and lumbering. Advocate mines opened in 1963 and Rambler mines in 1964, both in Baie Verte. This was a good source of employment until 1981 when it closed temporarily. It created employment periodically until 1992 when it closed for good. Laid off miners needed new sources of work and many moved away. When the Cod Moratorium began in 1993 the population of Fleur-de-Lys declined.