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Walking Tour

History of the Colony of Avalon


The Artifacts

Visiting the Colony of Avalon

The Colony of Avalon:
A window into the past, a pathway to the future

Have you ever walked on a 17th–century street, seen a 17th–century herb garden, or looked at the remains of everyday life in one of the earliest European colonies in North America?

If you haven't, come to the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland, Newfoundland.

Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore
Sir George Calvert.
From Justin Winsor, ed., Narrative and Critical History of America: English Explorations and Settlements in North America 1497-1689, Vol. III (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Company, 1884) 518.
The colony was founded by George Calvert, later Lord Baltimore, in 1621. Most people have no idea that permanent European settlement in North America dates so far back, and that Newfoundland played such an important role. The Ferryland settlement was "forgotten", and its remains lay undisturbed for centuries.

The site is now being excavated. Constructed of stone, the buildings have left substantial remains. Archaeologists have uncovered over a million artifacts to date – gold rings, Portuguese ceramics and other unusual objects – as well as a smithy, a stone-walled well, a sea-flushed privy and the "prettie street" described in very early accounts. There is evidence of earlier occupations by Beothuk Indians and Basque fishermen.

Excavation at Ferryland
Archaeological dig at Ferryland.
©1998, Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Project.

Ferryland is easily accessible from St. John's, Newfoundland. Bring a warm sweater and rain gear, and enjoy a tour of the Interpretation Centre and the excavations. In season, you can also enjoy whales playing in the waters nearby, and icebergs in the distance. There are seabird sanctuaries nearby, and not far away, the Avalon caribou herd wanders in view of the road. Boat tours, guest houses, gift shops and restaurants are all available.

The Colony of Avalon Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created to investigate, preserve, interpret and develop the remains of the original 17th–century Colony of Avalon. Operational funds are generated through admission fees, a gift shop and the support of dedicated members.

Colony of Avalon Foundation logo
Reproduced by permission of the Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, Newfoundland.

Funding for archaeology and site development has been received from the provincial and federal governments. In addition, there has been support from the Memorial University of Newfoundland through the J.R. Smallwood Centre for Newfoundland Studies, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Archaeology unit.

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Revised February 2006.

Partnered Project Heritage Web Site Project Memorial University of Newfoundland
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