This Week in History
Attack at Ferryland
For the week of Monday September 1, 2003
On September 4, 1673, Dutch privateers – pirates authorized by their government – targetted Ferryland, Newfoundland. Although brief, this attack left scars along this region’s landscape.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Newfoundland was a popular destination for many seasoned cod fishermen from a number of European countries. The English, who dried rather than salted the cod, needed to establish temporary settlements on Newfoundland’s shores. As a result, beginning in the early 17th century English companies planned to establish permanent colonies there.
Both Baltimore and Kirke tried to establish a fortification in Ferryland, but it proved to be neither adequate nor permanent. Consequently, the Dutch had an open field when they attacked the colony in 1673. They were motivated by vengeance against the English who had seized their colony, located where the New York city now stands. After this offensive, the Dutch led a series of invasions along the American coast. The 1673 conflict was just one part of the overall Anglo-Dutch hostilities.
The oldest English settlement in Canada, the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland was designated a national historic site in 1953. Archaeological digs there revealed much about this colony’s history. Through their marks of destruction, some remains also provide valuable information about the Dutch invasion.
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