Ferryland is located on the east coast of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula and is probably as close to Europe as any place in the New World. Today it is a fishing community of about 750 people, but beginning in the early 1500s it was visited seasonally at least by Beothuk Indians and fishermen from Portugal, Spain, France, the Basque Country, Normandy, Brittany and West Country England.

European Countries Fishing at Ferryland Before 1621.
©2002, Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Project.

In 1621 the first permanent settlement was established by George Calvert, later the first Lord Baltimore. Avalon, as he chose to call it, was Baltimore's first New World venture and the beginning of religious toleration in British North America. He named the colony after the legendary Avalon where Christianity was said to have been introduced into England.

Sir George Calvert (1580? - 1632), ca. 1625.
Portrait by Daniel Mytens, the elder, court painter to both James I and Charles I. Detail from the original painting in the collection of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Reproduced by permission of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Maryland. ©2001.
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Sir George Calvert, ca. 1580 - 1632.

In 1637 Charles I granted the entire Island of Newfoundland to a syndicate headed by Sir David Kirke. Kirke dispossessed Baltimore's representative from the "mansion house" and established his own residence there. Kirke died in jail in England in 1654 but his wife, Lady Sara Kirke, continued to manage the most successful fishing business on the English Shore. She survived a raid by Dutch forces in 1673, but died before Ferryland was burned by the French in 1696.

The Battle of Sole Bay, 1672
The Battle of Sole Bay, 1672.
The Battle of Sole Bay marked the first naval engagement between British and Dutch forces in the Third Dutch War (1672-74). Following this battle, the Dutch ordered their vessels to attack English settlements, such as Ferryland, in the New World.

From Frank C. Bowen, The Sea: Its History and Romance to 1697, vol. I (London: B.F. Stevens & Brown, 1924-1926) 145.

For the past decade archaeologists have been slowly revealing Calvert's Avalon, David Kirke's Pool Plantation, and traces of the native people and migratory fishermen who came before them.

Dr. Jim Tuck, Chief Archaeologist at the Colony of Avalon Dr. Jim Tuck, Chief Archaeologist at the Colony of Avalon
Reproduced by permission of Photographic Services, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, © 1995.
(86 kb)

The images that follow illustrate some of the events that took place during the first two centuries of European exploitation and settlement of the northwest Atlantic coast.

© 2002, Colony of Avalon Foundation

Next Stop: Ferryland Before Calvert

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