Fortune, NL, incorporated as a town in 1946, population 1442 (2011c), 1458 (2006c). The Town of Fortune is located on the west end of the Burin Peninsula at the mouth of Fortune Bay. Its name, dating from the early 1500s, is thought to come from the Portuguese word, fortuna, meaning "fortune" or "luck." Situated near the GRAND BANKS, it and the nearby town of GRAND BANK were likely utilized by Portuguese, French and Basque fishermen throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Fortune appeared on Spanish and Italian maps as early as 1527 and is in the 1687 French census. English settlement began sometime after when the Lake family moved here from Paradise Sound, Placentia Bay in 1763. They were followed by English settlers who were forced to leave French SAINT-PIERRE - an island only 50 km from Fortune - after the Treaty of PARIS (1763). During the 19th century, the inshore and bank fisheries continued to attract settlers and shipbuilding grew in importance. In the 20th century, furniture manufacturing (1907-17) and wholesale and retail businesses added to the local economy. Fortune's founding industries suffered with the COD moratorium, in place since the early 1990s, and today one plant remains and processes a variety of species.
The discovery of FOSSILS at Fortune Head in 1977 led to the site being designated as an ecological reserve in 1992. That same year it was chosen as the Global Stratotype Section and Point marking the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary (see GEOLOGICAL HISTORY). An interpretation centre in town explains Fortune Head's geological and palaeontological significance. Other points of interest in Fortune include its marina, picturesque fishermen's sheds, Victoria Hall Museum (built in 1883) and George and Mary Lake Heritage House (built in the late 1880s). Known as the "Gateway to St Pierre and Miquelon," Fortune provides the only regular ferry service to the French Islands.