The area was used by Breton fisherman as early as 1534, when they were visited by Jacques Cartier. The first English settlers arrived in 1849; the Pateys at St. Lunaire and the Hills at Griquet.
The first census was taken in 1857, and it showed a population of 22 at St. Lunaire and 28 at Griquet. In 1874, the population had risen to 174 residents. This increase was due to families moving to the area to fish.
By 1935, there were 500 residents there and the community became a service centre for the smaller communities around it. It was incorporated as a town in 1958. With the establishment of the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, tourism has become the primary industry.