Colony of Avalon National Historic Site of Canada

Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador
View of HSMBC plaque on The Downs near Ferryland with plaque for Sir David Kirke (© Place Holder)
HSMBC plaque
(© Place Holder)
Address : off Highway 10, Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1953-05-26
Dates:
  • 1696 to 1696 (Unknown)
  • 1627 to 1627 (Significant)
  • 1637 to 1637 (Significant)
  • 1673 to 1673 (Significant)
  • 1696 to 1696 (Significant)
  • 1621 to 1621 (Established)
  • 1622 to 1622 (Flourished)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Captain Edward Wynne (person)  (Person)
  • Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore (person)  (Person)
  • Sir David Kirke (person)  (Person)
  • Lady Sara Kirke (person)  (Person)
  • Colony of Avalon Foundation (organization)  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Colony of Avalon  (Designation Name)
  • Lord Baltimore’s House, David Kirke's House  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1969-040, 1986-005, 2009-SDC-CED-051
DFRP Number: 16470

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque: Across from Colony of Avalon Visitor Centre Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador

Near this site stood the "Mansion House" built between 1621 and 1625 by Captain E. Wynne, resident governor of the Colony of Avalon, for the proprietor, Sir George Calvert (later Lord Baltimore), who took up residence here in 1628. The active hostility of transient fishermen and costly raids by French privateers and warships led Calvert to abandon his colony in 1629. Ferryland, however, continued to be an important fishing and commercial station and the "Mansion House" became the seart of David Kirke's government of Newfoundland between 1637 and 1650.

Description of Historic Place

Colony of Avalon National Historic Site of Canada is a 17th-century archaeological site located 60 kilometres south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Situated on the east coast of the island, the site extends across the narrow Avalon Peninsula and the small harbour at the town of Ferryland. Ongoing archaeological excavation and research managed by the Colony of Avalon Foundation has revealed extensive traces of the 17th-century English settlement and many related artifacts. The site now features an interpretive centre and heritage gardens. Official recognition refers to the designated place that extends across the narrow Avalon Peninsula delineated by a polygon.

Heritage Value

Colony of Avalon was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1953 because: it is the site of the house of Sir George Calvert (Lord Baltimore), founder of the Ferryland
plantation in 1621; abandoned by Calvert in 1629, Ferryland continued to be an important fishing and
commercial station and the house became the seat of Sir David Kirke’s government of
Newfoundland between 1637 and 1650

Intending to establish a permanent English colony in the New World, Sir George Calvert, later Lord Baltimore, purchased a tract of land on the east coast of Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan in 1620. A year later, in 1621, Calvert sent 12 settlers under the command of Captain Edward Wynne to establish the Colony of Avalon on this land. They were subsequently followed, in the winter of 1622-1623, by another 32 colonists, including women and children. Calvert himself visited the colony in 1627 and settled with his family at Mansion House, in 1628. His experience at the Colony of Avalon prompted him to ask King Charles I to grant him land further south in Virginia due to the suffering of the colonists. His request was granted to his son, Cecil, after his death in 1632.

The Colony of Avalon came under the control of Sir David Kirke when he established his headquarters at the site of present day Ferryland to serve as Newfoundland’s seat of government between 1637 and 1650. Kirke headed a syndicate that had been given the island of Newfoundland in 1637 as compensation for the return to the French of Port-Royal and Québec, two colonies that Kirke and his brothers, under the commission of King Charles I, had captured in the 1620s. Kirke renamed Ferryland “Pool Plantation” and administered colonial affairs from a house he had taken over from Lord Baltimore’s representative in the colony. In addition to running a successful fishing business, Kirke governed Newfoundland until 1650. Despite raids by the Dutch in 1673 and later by the French in 1696, who burned the colony to the ground and expelled its inhabitants, many features of the original settlement have remained and have been exposed and identified through extensive archaeological excavations.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1953, October 1969, August 2009

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its situation on the Avalon Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean, set in a rolling, open coastal
landscape; the integrity of discovered, or as yet unidentified archaeological features including any in
situ vestiges of structural remains; the integrity of any surviving archeological remains
relating to the settlement, which may be found within the site in their original placement
and extent; the integrity of the collection of unearthed artefacts associated with the 17th-century
settlement located at Ferryland and the Avalon Peninsula, including cannonballs, projectile
points, padlocks, gold rings, keys, clay pipes, a gravestone, a gold spur, pottery, and coins; the viewscapes to the Atlantic Ocean and the community of Ferryland.