The town of Port au Choix is well known as for its rich history and fishery. Known as the "fishing capital" of Western Newfoundland, it boasts a large fishing fleet, a modern shrimp processing plant, Federal Fisheries Offices, Parks Canada Visitor Reception Centre, restaurants, motel, RV Park, modern sports complex, bank, as well as other financial institutions and government services.
Port au Choix is a National Historic Site and the community is regarded as one of the richest archeological finds in North America! Burial sites uncovered in the town in the 1960's & 70's provide evidence of it's most early settlers - from the Maritime Archaic Indians to the Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos to the Recent Indians (ancestors of the Beothuks). While prehistoric coastlines elsewhere have long since slipped beneath the encroaching ocean, the raised shoreline and alkaline soil conditions at Port au Choix have combined to preserve a time capsule of great historical importance. Because of the cultural significance of this burial site, and a successful local lobby, the site was officially designated a National Historic Site by Parks Canada in 1984. In 2001 Parks Canada constructed a new Visitor Centre and Museum dedicated to the rich history of these native people - the first ever to inhabit Newfoundland, dating back over 5000 years.
The earliest European presence in Port au Choix dates to the 1500's when the town received its name, Portuchoa, meaning "little port" from Basque fishermen who operated in the area. The town's original European residents were mainly descendants of French and English fishermen who settled in the area after 1904 when France relinquished its rights to fish, and for the first time permanent settlement was allowed. Under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, the French were given exclusive rights to fish in an area known as The French Shore, which this area is part of. At Point Riche, The French Shore Treaty monument is erected to commemorate this historic event in Newfoundland history.
The modern town of Port au Choix is an amalgamation of three once separate communities - Old Port au Choix, Gargamelle Cove and Port au Choix. In 1857 there were at least 37 people living in Old Port au Choix. The first family settled in Gargamelle Cove in 1874 and the community of Port au Choix was established by 1911. By that time the French Shore no longer existed, France's rights having terminated in 1904.
Today's Port au Choix still retains its close association with the sea and its cultural history. There are other sightseeing attractions, including Pointe Riche Lighthouse, the Heritage Museum, the French Shore treaty site, Studio Gargamille, and Fishery Products International Plant.