Our History

To appreciate our future you have to walk through our past

Placentia possesses a lush historical and cultural tapestry stretching back to the early 16th century. Back then explorers, fishermen and settlers discovered a place rich in opportunity and ideally situated to make the most of it.

Everywhere you turn, that rich heritage surrounds you: old fortifications, archaeological digs, museums, and national historic sites are all located within a leisurely distance from one another, dotted amongst forested hills and rolling coastal inlets.

Look around – there is an abundance of things to see and do.

Explore Castle Hill, the most prominent of a group of centuries old English and French fortifications that call Placentia home. With its famously commanding view of Placentia and surrounding coastline, Castle Hill offers a unique national historic site experience. You just might meet residents from 1696, or even the Governor himself, as well as merchant soldiers and fisherpersons of the period, as you tour this memorable vista.

Uncover that rich mix of Basque, French, English, Irish and American history that shaped our wildly colourful and tumultuous past. As the Old World battled amongst themselves to gain the advantage in the New World, strategically important areas like Placentia were essential possessions in the battle for supremacy. Tour our archaeology lab at nearby Fort Louis and the British New Fort and discover artifacts from French and English families dating back to the 1600’s!

Stroll down our beautiful Town square and drop into the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, one of Placentia’s key architectural landmarks and a lasting testament to the scores of Irish immigrants and labourers that shaped the very face of Placentia. Next door sits Our Lady of the Angels Convent, a snapshot of a bygone era. Across the square you will find the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts centre, one of the lasting legacies of Placentia 350, a celebration in 2012 of the Town’s rich French historical roots. And don’t forget to drop by the old courthouse, one of the oldest operating courtrooms in the country.

Placentia is also an easy driving distance from some other Newfoundland and Labrador’s historical treasures. Be sure to stop by picturesque Ship Harbour and view the Atlantic Charter Site and Monument, commemorating the famous meeting in 1941 between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt that changed the course of the Second World War.

Plan your visit to Placentia and discover the wonder for yourself. Our welcome mat is always ready.

The Argentia Connection

Located a brief five minute drive from Placentia, Argentia’s connection with Placentia has endured for centuries. In fact, when it was settled by the French in the 1630s, the community was originally named ‘Petit Plaisance’ or ‘Little Placentia’.

Second World War brought a massive influx of American troops to the area, beginning in 1941 when, under the terms of the famous Lend Lease deal between Britain and the United States, Fort McAndrew (later McAndrew Air Force Base) was established. Argentia provided the Americans with the ideal location for what would become a massive and strategically vital military installation. Under the terms of the deal, the residents of Argentia were relocated, the majority of whom would come to reside in Freshwater (which, like Argentia and nearby Dunville and Jerseyside, was amalgamated into the Town of Placentia in 1991).

The impact and influence thousands of American troops in Argentia would have on Placentia and neighbouring communities over the next 50 years would be enormous. The Argentia facility would prove to be a key economic driver for the area, providing employment, both directly and indirectly, for many thousands of area residents. The social repercussions were just as poignant, as day-to-day contact evolved to relationships and eventually marriage. Many local girls would marry American personnel, eventually moving away from their island home.

Though the decommissioning of the Argentia base in 1994 was a heavy blow to the economy of the region, the core assets and infrastructure have attracted large industrial projects connected with the province’s resource development sector to the Argentia site, providing a lucrative new dynamic to the Placentia regional economy. Operations in metal fabrication, light manufacturing and marine transportation have an established presence, along with recently announced projects in the area of new fabrication, maintenance, supply and marine service opportunities.

Argentia provides an attractive resource because of its:

  • strategic location in the center of the world’s shipping lanes
  • excellent ice-free deep water port with 2,100 feet of berth space available
  • extensive buildings, infrastructure and land zoned for industrial use
  • a skilled workforce, and a management team experienced in economic development, and port and property management

As time has aptly showed again and again, Argentia’s long relationship with Placentia and its people looks ready to endure for many centuries more.

Today the Argentia Management Authority is redeveloping Argentia with a diverse group of port users and tenants involved in marine transportation, construction, manufacturing, steel fabrication, oil and gas and other activities. To learn more about the tremendous advantages and opportunities available at Argentia please contact the Argentia Management Authority by visiting their website www.portofargentia.ca.