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June 12, 1997
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

Official opening of Colony of Avalon Centre

The Colony of Avalon Centre at Ferryland was officially opened today by Sandra Kelly, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, on behalf of Brian Tobin, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Paul Mills of the Atlantic Canada Opportunites Agency, on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Best known as the settlement started in 1621 by Sir George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore, the Colony is a complex heritage site of international significance reflecting the presence of Beothuk and European cultures.

$1.8 million is being invested in the Colony of Avalon project through two federal/provincial agreements. The Canada/Newfoundland Strategic Regional Diversification COOPERATION Agreement (SRDA) is contributing $805,000 to the tourism infrastructure, primarily the refurbishment of a former school that will serve as a Centre to house an artifacts laboratory, interpretive exhibits, and collection storage area. An investment of $1 million from the Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Economic Renewal focuses on continuation of archaeological work at the site.

Premier Tobin said: "The Colony of Avalon is one of the prized historic resources of our province because of the site's diverse history which encompasses the influence of the Beothuks, Portuguese, French, and English whose pasts are connected with the area. The preservation of the archaeological integrity of the site coupled with the development of interpretive features heralds a new dimension in community economic development of the tourism sector on the Southern Shore."

Paul Mills, Vice-President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for Newfoundland, said: "Cultural diversity is the hallmark of the Canadian mosaic and Newfoundland and Labrador's heritage is steeped in a variety of cultural influences that make it a jewel in the Canadian crown. The people of Ferryland are commended for successfully developing the tourism potential of their area while protecting the cultural fabric of their colourful past for the enjoyment of Canadians and visitors to our country, especially during the year of the Cabot celebrations."

Speaking as Chairperson of the Colony of Avalon Foundation Inc., Jerome White emphasized the importance of the archaeological site and Centre to the people of Ferryland: "This project is a beacon of hope for the people of Ferryland. Through hard work, we are diversifying our economy and building our future on the strength of our unique culture and heritage. We are enhancing Ferryland for the benefit of residents and visitors alike by making it an anchor attraction for the Avalon Peninsula."

During 1996, over 10,000 visitors registered at the site and the economic impact on local businesses was substantial. Over the past five years, between 50 and 60 people have been employed each season, 95 per cent of whom are residents of the Southern Shore.

The Colony of Avalon

  • - Site is one of the richest sources of artifacts from early European settlement in North America. The findings to date constitute perhaps the best preserved colonial site in British North America and the potential for long-term archaeology is as great as at any colonial site. Excavations have also uncovered evidence of Beothuk habitation dating from around the time of the first European settlement.

    - Other excavation efforts have uncovered evidence that Ferryland was one of the oldest seasonal fishing stations. The presence of a large stone flake indicates that Ferryland developed into a major fishing centre.

    - The foundation of structures uncovered date primarily from the 17th century and reveal that the site, known as the Colony of Avalon, was a significant centre of trade.

    - Artifacts from Europe, the eastern seaboard of North America and as far away as Africa have been identified.

    - There is also evidence that the citizens suffered attacks by French and Dutch raiders. The Colony had to be rebuilt several times.

    - To date, a blacksmith shop, sea wall, well and stone road, along with thousands of artifacts have been painstakingly uncovered and identified.

    - It will be some time before the entire settlement, situated around what is locally known as The Pool, is completely exposed and such important structures as Lord Baltimore's dwelling remain to be discovered.



  • - The Colony of Avalon project is implemented by the Colony of Avalon Foundation Inc. in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation who provide advisory services for development and archaeology.

    - The Colony of Avalon Foundation is a community-based, not-for- profit organization dedicated to preserving, investigating, and developing the rich heritage of the Avalon Peninsula's southern shore.

    - Funding from the Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Economic Renewal is derived from the $23 million allocated for the tourism initiatives. The tourism component focuses on various initiatives throughout the province that contribute to the creation of solid industry infrastructure and an environment conducive to private sector investment in the tourism sector.

    - Funding from the Strategic Regional Diversification COOPERATION Agreement is targeted toward strategic development initiatives that are likely to yield significant economic benefits within the province's identified regional zones.


  • - 1991 - A five-year Agreement signed for Archaeology research at Ferryland - Administered by Historic Resources. Southern Shore Development Association established an archaeology sub-committee to protect the community interest.

    - 1992 - First excavation done at the site - 6 weeks work - 2,887 visitors.

    - 1993 - Temporary visitors centre established by the Southern Shore Development Association - 18 weeks of site work - 6,000 visitors.

    - 1994 - 18 weeks of site work - 8,200 visitors.

    - 1995 - A Master Plan for the future development of the Colony of Avalon site was completed and presented to the federal and provincial governments.

    Avalon Tourism Study released identifying Colony at Ferryland as one of the most important emerging tourism destinations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Funding from the Strategic Regional Diversification Agreement approved.

    Over 10,000 visitors to site.

    - 1996 - Funding for the Colony of Avalon site provided through the Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Economic Renewal.

    Renovations conducted on former school to accommodate interpretive exhibits, artifacts laboratory, and collection storage area.

    More than 10,000 visitors to site.


  • - The archaeological site currently provides employment for over 50 people and there is potential for additional jobs as development continues.

    - The Colony of Avalon site provides increased opportunities for small businesses such as tour operators, bed and breakfast establishments, restaurants, crafts shops, gas stations and convenience stores.

    Historical Chronology
    Colony of Avalon
    16th-18th centuries

    1502      Corte Real brothers explore south Avalon
    by 1506   Portuguese seasonal cod fishery
    1527      Breton and Norman fishery in the area
    1529      "Farilham" named on Verrezano's map of North America
    by 1550   Beothuk native people visit Ferryland
    by 1565   Britain's west country ports compete in Newfoundland fishery
    1585      Bernard Drake attacks Portuguese ships at Newfoundland
    1597      Will Sayer of Dartmouth, Devon, fishing admiral at Ferryland
    1620      Dutch vessels trading at Ferryland
    1621      Sir George Calvert sets up the Colony of Avalon
    1621      Captain Wynne's palisade, first documented fort in English
    1622      Calvert's Mansion House, first documented house in English
    1623      James I, "Grant of the Province of Avalon"
    1628      Calvert, now Lord Baltimore overwinters at Ferryland
    1628      First Roman Catholic Baptism in English North America
    1628-1660 Newfoundland's "First Capital" - Home of Governors of
                   Sir George Calvert First Baron Baltimore, 1628
                   Sir David Kirke, conqueror of Quebec (1629-1631), 1638-
                   John Treworgie, Cromwell's Puritan agent in Newfoundland,
    1629      Baltimore finances privateering war with de la Rade
    1629      Baltimore and his family depart for the Chesapeake
    1631      Death of George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore
    1637      Charles I, "Grant of Newfoundland" to Sir David Kirke
    1640s          First court sessions held in English Canada
    1649      Execution of Charles I & flight to Ferryland of his friend,
              Lady Frances Hopkins
    1654      Death of Sir David Kirke, in a London jail
    1654-1680 First Canadian woman to operate a large business: Lady Sara
    1660      Restoration of Charles II & of Cecil Calvert as legal
              proprietor of Avalon
    1665      Petition of Avalon planters to make George Kirke governor
    1673      Dutch Admiral de Boes burns buildings at Ferryland
    1675      George, David (Jr.) and Jervase Kirke major Avalon planters
    1680      Death of Lady Sara Kirke, at Ferryland
    1694      Ferryland defended from French by Captain William Holman
              Ferryland planters attack Placentia
    1696      French Canadian troops burn Ferryland
    1697      George and David Kirke die after incarceration at Placentia. 
              The "Constant Inhabitants of Ferryland" petition William III
              for help returning home after exile in Bideford, Devon. 
              William III's Act recognizes planter property rights.
    1698      Ferryland re-inhabited
    1709      South Avalon planters defend themselves at Ile au Bois
    • Contact:

      Lil Hawkins
      Colony of Avalon Foundation
      (709) 432-3200

      Heidi Bonnell
      Office of the Premier
      (709) 729-3960

      Paul Murphy
      COOPERATION Communications
      (709) 772-0219

      Ellen Alcock
      Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Economic Renewal
      (709) 772-5116

      Laura Cochrane
      Department of Tourism Culture and Recreation
      (709) 729-0928

1997 06 12 10:45 a.m.

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