Placentia is the core of a group of small villages (Placentia, Jerseyside, Townside, Freshwater, Dunville and Argentia) with a total population of three and a half thousand people on the west side of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. Located 130km (80 miles) west of the capital, St. John's, the community is primarily a fishing village and has declined rapidly in population since the depletion of Atlantic cod stocks in the 1990s.
Fort Plaisance (1662), Fort Royal (1687) and Fort Saint-Louis (1690) were early French military fortifications in the area; the hilltop bastion Fort Royal served as home for the French governor. After the French abandoned Newfoundland in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the British built the redoubt Fort Frederick. While much of the original fortification is in ruins, what remains is preserved as Castle Hill National Historic Site.
Argentia was a small fishing village established by the French in the 1630s as Petit Plaisance (Little Placentia), meaning "Pleasant Little Place". The village was renamed in 1901 to reflect the presence of silver ore in the Broad Cove region; a silver mine operated until the 1920s. A railway branch line reached the community in 1888, allowing the adjoining Ship Harbour and Fox Harbour to serve as a seaport to supply other coastal villages (outports) in the region.
In August 1941, a four-day wartime meeting between Winston Churchill and Franklin Delanor Roosevelt took place on board the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, moored at Placentia Bay, off Argentia. In 1942, the villages of Argentia and Marquise were expropriated and completely demolished to make way for a US military base which was to serve as one end of a key World War II trans-Atlantic supply line. The dispossessed villagers were largely resettled in Placentia. The US base closed in 1994 and its airport sits abandoned; attempts have been made to re-purpose the base as an industrial park. The Newfoundland Railway is gone. The docks remain in use seasonally for the ferry to Cape Breton.
- Marine Atlantic, ☎ . Takes passengers and cars from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques throughout the year, and to Argentia during the summer. The duration of the ride depends on the weather and water conditions, so patience is of the essence. Reservations recommended except for commercial vehicles. (Commercial vehicles pay double for reservations.)
Placentia is on Newfoundland Highway 100, which leads to the Trans-Canada Highway.
- Busy Bee Cabs, 15 Prince William Dr, ☎ . Local taxi service.
- 1 Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, ☎ .
- 2 Castle Hill Historic Site, 1 Old Castle Hill Rd, Jerseyside, ☎ , fax: . Remains of French and English fortifications from the 17th and 18th centuries, history of local fishery.
- 3 O'Reilly House Museum, 48 Orcan Drive, ☎ . 1902 Balistrade Queen Anne Victorian magistrate's house restored with period artefacts as local historical museum. $2. * Angels Cove.
- The Cape Shore Drive.
- Placentia Bay Lookout.
- 1 Cape Saint Mary's Ecological Reserve, 60km (40mi) S of Placentia on NL 100, ☎ . May-Sep/Oct. Provincial park and nesting seabird sanctuary, interpretive centre, souvenir shop, washrooms. free guided tour.
- 2 Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park, Gooseberry Cove, NL route 100, 27km S of Placentia. Picnic area on sandy beach.
- 1 Philip's Café, 170 Jerseyside Hill, Jerseyside, ☎ . Opens at 7AM. Waterfront café, bakery, pastry shop. Serves breakfast, deli sandwiches, coffee, and tea for takeaway.
- 2 Hoi Pun Restaurant, 14 Prince William Dr, ☎ . Chinese & Canadian food.
- 1 Bridgeway Hotel, 15-19 Prince William Drive, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twelve rooms with private bath, fridge, microwave, wi-fi, breakfast.
Bed and breakfast
- 2 Castle Landing Guest Home, 16 Larkin Drive, Route 100, Freshwater, ☎ , toll-free: . Nine rooms in former convent, en-suite bath, wi-fi, continental breakfast.
- 3 Rosedale Manor Inn, 40 Orcan Dr., ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Waterfront 1893 Heritage B&B Inn, gourmet breakfasts, comfortable beds, private bathrooms, wi-fi, garden and reading room. $60.
- Cochrane's Corner Guest House, Main Road, Placentia, ☎ . Three-bedroom cottage, continental breakfast.