Ferryland is where George Calvert, better known as Lord Baltimore, founded the Colony of Avalon in 1621. Today, you can peer over the shoulders of working archaeologists as they uncover the foundations of houses and a cobblestone street built in the 17th century. And you can view some of the thousands of discovered artifacts at the interpretation centre.
Rich in history, even before Baltimore, the Ferryland area had been used as a summer fishing station by migratory European fishermen. It had also drawn the attention of the Beothuks, the now extinct aboriginal people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Baltimore stayed only a few years before transferring his energies into another colony in Maryland. But Ferryland survived his departure and prospered (despite a raid by the Dutch in the 1670s) until the 1690s when French raids drove the English away. But the Colony of Avalon was close to rich fishing grounds too good to be abandoned, and it was soon reoccupied.
There's a distinct Irish feel here, and with good reason. The Irish came to dominate this shore - first as summer workers for English and Irish fish merchants, then as permanent settlers throughout the 18th century.
Today, this area is known as the Irish heart of Newfoundland and Labrador. Irish traditions, attitudes, and music continue to thrive here. The town regularly hosts summer musical events and dinner theatre productions with a strong local flavour - and no shortage of the famed Irish wit. The annual Shamrock Folk Festival produced by the Southern Shore Folk Arts Council in Ferryland is the ultimate Irish/Newfoundland music festival in the province.
The town's museum is housed in the old courthouse – complete with a couple of holding cells – where you can discover many of the legends and characters of Ferryland history. After a day of traditional dancing and entertainment, you can sit on the front porch of the museum and look toward the sea across a meadow called The Gaze.
At nearby Ferryland Head, accessible by an easy walking and hiking trail across the Downs, is the town's famous lighthouse. Here you can order an incredibly popular and delicious Lighthouse Picnic to eat as you nestle down in lush grass and watch for whales, birds, and icebergs off the breathtaking coastline.
Ferryland is located on the island of Newfoundland, 74 km or just a 1-hour drive from St. John's along Route 10 - The Irish Loop.