Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries National Historic Site of Canada
Fleur de Lys, Newfoundland and Labrador
© Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1998 M. Stoop
near Highway 410, locality 1, Fleur de Lys, Newfoundland and Labrador
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Event, Person, Organization:
Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarriy, locality 1, Fleur de Lys, Newfoundland and Labrador
Easily worked, soapstone was an important raw material for many of the aboriginal societies of Newfoundland. Outcrops in this vicinity were extensively quarried, probably by the Dorset people, bearers of an Arctic culture who occupied much of the province between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500. The soapstone appears to have been used here primarily for bowls and oil lamps. Remains of vessels in different stages of preparation can be seen in the rockface. This makes the quarries an important source of information about the stone technology of these early Newfoundlanders.
Description of Historic Place
Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries National Historic Site of Canada is located in the town of Fleur de Lys on the northwestern side of Baie Verte Peninsula, northern Newfoundland. The outcroppings of soapstone rock, for which the site is named, are found in two areas: the first and most extensive area extends along a bedrock ridge east of the town; the second is a series of eleven massive soapstone boulders that lie west of the town on the edge of Fleur de Lys Harbour. The bedrock exhibits depressions and removal scars from the quarrying and extraction of materials over hundreds of years. Additional sites with signs of quarrying have been identified in the area since the designation, although as they were not known during the sites recommendation they have not been included in the designated place. Official recognition refers to the two localities of the quarries.
Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1982 because: it is an important source of information about the stone technology of early Aboriginal societies of Newfoundland.
Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries is presently unique to the province of Newfoundland in preserving considerable evidence of early methods of soapstone extraction and techniques. Soapstone, easily quarried and worked, was an important raw material for many of the aboriginal societies of Newfoundland. The Dorset people, an Arctic culture who occupied much of the province between 500 B.C.E. and 500 C.E., made extensive use of outcrops in this vicinity to obtain blocky preforms destined for later finishing into soapstone vessels of various shapes and sizes, including bowls and oil lamps. Remains of vessels in different stages of preparation are also visible in the rock faces and mounds of tailings or spoil from the quarrying operations are found throughout the site.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: - its location near the town of Fleur de Lys on the northwestern side of Baie Verte Peninsula in northern Newfoundland; - the natural setting of the soapstone rock faces on the bedrock ridge on the eastern side of town, surrounded by either grass or dense shrub spruce vegetation; - the natural setting of the soapstone rock faces on the edge of Fleur de Lys Harbour on the western side of town; - evidence of quarrying operations on the bedrock ridge and on the edge of Fleur de Lys Harbour, including the removal scars or preforms, large soapstone boulders, bedrock talus and mounds of tailings or spoil located at the various worked areas; - the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains relating to the Dorset occupation, which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including vessel preforms, stone tools, remains of wooden scaffolding and diagnostic tools used for hunting; - the viewscapes to and from the localities of the site.