Newfoundland, Canada: Ferryland

Ferryland is a small town about an hour and fifteen minutes south of St. John’s along the eastern coast of Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritime Islands. My dad and I are currently in the second leg of our father-daughter roadtrip (the first leg was through Normandy and Brittany, France two summers ago).

On this trip, we are exploring Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada, St. Pierre & Miquelon islands (which are part of France) and Nova Scotia. He’s then going on to Price Edward Island and Ile de Madeleine (Quebec) and I’ll head home.

Dad always travels with a little plinth and mini flags for the places he’s going. Can you figure out all of these below? Click on the pictures to check.

On our way from St. Pierre to western Newfoundland, we had a whole day layover in St. John’s. Having visited St. John’s on a prior trip, we decided to head for Ferryland instead.

flying into Newfoundland - look at those cliffs!
flying into Newfoundland – look at those cliffs!

(On a side note, the time zones here are so neat! St. Pierre & Miquelon are 2 hours ahead of east coast US. Traveling EAST to St. John’s, you set the clocks BACK 30 minutes. So not only are you traveling east and gaining time – very rare – but also all of Newfoundland is in an odd 30 minute time zone. So now we are 1.5 hours ahead of east coast US.)

So back to Ferryland. We rented a car at St. John’s airport (a debacle in and of itself as we accidentally booked a nonrefundable car at St. John airport….in New Brunswick). So after hanging around and finally getting the last car seemingly in the whole airport, we headed to Ferryland.

scenic overlook on east coast of Newfoundland
scenic overlook on east coast of Newfoundland

On the drive, the views overlooking sharp cliffs and rocky island outcroppings were breathtaking, and we even spotted a few sprays from whales off the shore.

rocky islands off newfoundland
rocky islands off the coast

Ferryland is town where the original colony of Avalon was founded in the 1620s by George Calvert aka Lord Baltimore!!! As you can imagine, this had been pre-researched and our Baltimore connection is why we wanted to go.

Lord Calvert really couldn’t stand the harsh winters there and so he only stayed a year before heading south and founding Maryland. The colony at Avalon continued on under other English leadership until such a time when it was destroyed by the French….but then the settlers came back and rebuilt.

The colony is an active archeological dig site and we watched as students from a local university used trowels to pull out shards of pottery, bottle glass, and other bits and pieces. They have over 2 million pieces in their archives (from the indigenous Beothuk people, to the first settlers, to 19th century residents) and they literally uncover hundreds of things from the ground everyday. Unfortunately, they no longer have the staff to reconstruct much of what they discover, and so it gets catalogued and warehoused.

tool shed at colony of Avalon dig site
tool shed at colony of Avalon dig site

We walked on the cobbles of Main Street that were uncovered intact, along with remnants of fireplaces, the village forge, kitchen and privy, as well as foundations for many homes, including the Baltimore “mansion.”

Lord Baltimore "mansion"
Lord Baltimore “mansion”

Fishing was the village’s main occupation, although it seemed like regularly fighting off French and Dutch were also high on the list. However, these were villagers and fishermen and were not defended by soldiers, so it seems more like they would flee, return, and rebuild.

Gold rings and coins were uncovered by the archeologists from what they believe were the trash heaps – probably where fleeing villagers “hid” precious items.

There weren’t many options for lunch along the route, so we stopped at one of the more highly recommended spots on Yelp: Benard Kavanaugh’s Million Dollar View restaurant, which was a glorified beach snack bar, complete with vinegar for the fries and soft serve ice cream cones. It did have a pretty view though, and don’t think we would’ve found anything different food-wise. Dad had a local Quidi Vidi beer from St. John’s – not the Iceberg beer that they claim to be made with ancient iceberg water, but the regular pilsner.

Ferryland was worth the trip and was a pretty cool experience: to see where Lord Baltimore originally thought he might set up shop to being on an active dig site. And look what was flying over the visitor center:

Maryland flag at colony of Avalon visitor center
Maryland flag at colony of Avalon visitor center


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