The harbour at Jerseyside, Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, is always a busy spot, more so in recent years because of ongoing construction to repair and extend the existing wharf structure. It is primarily a base for commercial fishers of the region, but there are other local work and pleasure boats tied up as well, and occasionally the harbour welcomes visiting sailboats and power yachts. The lift bridge across the Placentia Gut is a challenge to the larger sailboats. However it permitted the entrance to the Matthew in 1997 for the Cabot 500 Celebrations. So it's no surprise there is always an interesting line-up of various marine vessels going and coming at the harbour on Jerseyside.
Like most such harbours in Newfoundland and Labrador, this one, overseen by the Harbour Authority of Placentia Area, is a place where fish are delivered and bought, bait is picked up, and boats are tied up when not in use. Jerseyside Harbour has gear storage available to individual fishermen and a slipway for hauling up or launching boats. It is well supplied with modern equipment such as electrical outlets and toilet facilities. While not as well equipped in past, this part of the harbour has always been a place where boats seemed to gather and add to the story of Placentia.
The Jerseyside Harbour area can be a real attraction to tourists not only because it is a beautiful spot and offers the chance to see local fishing activities and experience the culture, but also because of the area where it is located. The area adjacent to the harbour is often referred to as "the Flat on Jerseyside." That flat area at the base of the Jerseyside Hill contains other attractions and services of interest to visitors. The wharf itself provides a platform for the annual "blessing of the boats" and for the social and dance know as "Rock the Dock," both organized by the Festival of Flags group in partnership with the Harbour Authority.
Just across the road from the wharf structure is Philip's Cafe, a unique business that offers attractive specialty food to go along with a great cup of coffee. Owner Philip Meade does all the baking at the Cafe, combining traditional Newfoundland recipes into many of his own creations. His molasses-raisin bread is a Cafe favorite, along with his many treats created with local berries and both French and Belgian chocolate. The restaurant itself is unique in that it was created by renovating the over 100 year-old Murphy's Store that had existed there and as much as possible maintaining the features of the original building, but adding such modern features as WiFi connectivity. Added also is the outside deck where you can enjoy a meal as you watch activities in the harbour. Philip and his partner Linda Grimm make a special effort to interact with the customers and make them welcome.
Diagonally across the street from Phillips Cafe is the combined 4 Seasons Gifts and Souvenirs and A & M Video. This offers an opportunity for the visitor to browse among the gifts and souvenirs or pick up a DVD to view while in the community. Next door to that is an abandoned ferry landing that accommodated the running of the Motor Vessel Sir Ambrose Shea before the coming of the lift bridge over fifty years ago.
This area is further steeped in history. Just across the highway and the approach to the lift bridge are the remains of a fort that has served both the French and English who occupied Placentia during the 17th and 18th centuries. For the past few years, archeological digs have been going on here and much evidence found of the early inhabitants of this military fort, know as Fort Louis. The workers at these digs are welcoming of visitors and take time to explain what they are doing and finding.
Just above this fort is Castle Hill National Historic Site and for those in good physical condition, there is a foot path leading up to it or you can drive up the highway. At the base of Castle Hill is the location of a former wharf that served coastal steamers. For a few months, before the rail line was completed to Port Aux Basque, starting in October 1897, there was a port of call for the S.S. Bruce bringing passengers and freight between Newfoundland and North Sydney in Nova Scotia. Also near Fort Louis is the workshop of Bernard Penney who makes models of former buildings in the Placentia area that helps to preserve history. It is open only by appointment.
Given all of this, the Harbour Area of Jerseyside is obviously a place worth visiting.
For history of the Placentia Area; www.placentiahistory.ca
Time Period Represented: 16th century - present
Visitor Fees (if any): No admission fees, except for special events
Seasons Open: All year, except the time of the archaeological dig