Placentia, or Plaisance as it was once called, is a town replete with a truly colourful and rich history. It is situated on a large beach near a coastal forest area. This historic town is one of the oldest inhabited communities in Newfoundland. Some historians maintain that Basque fishermen were taking cod from Placentia Bay before the voyages of Columbus and Cabot. As early as 1592 an English sea captain reported sighting 60 Basque fishing ships in Placentia Harbour. After the Basque came the French who, in 1662 decided to include Newfoundland in its western empire because of the rich fishing waters.
Strong French forts were built at Placentia where army units were garrisoned and from which several naval vessels operated. When war broke out between the French and the English near the end of the 17th century it was from their fortified forts at Placentia that the French attacked the English capital at St. John’s three times and overran the Avalon Peninsula, destroying English settlements. It was the defeat of the French forces in Europe and the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht that eventually dislodged the French from their foothold in Newfoundland.
Under this treaty the French were forced to surrender many of their colonies in the New World including Placentia. (Note the white flag still flies next to the Union Jack.)
When the French inhabitants left Placentia they took with them their culture and lifestyle leaving only the military redoubts and fortifications as well as place names such as Crev-ve-coeur and Brulee as evidence of their occupation. While there are signs of French occupation in the area today, the culture and lifestyle is not that of French origin.
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