Castle Hill, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Castle Hill
Whats left of the ruins.JPG
Fort Royal
Location Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
TypeHistoric fortifications
Official nameCastle Hill National Historic Site of Canada

Castle Hill is an area containing the remains of both French and British fortifications, overlooking the town of Placentia (French: Plaisance) in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The site was originally established in order to protect the French fishing interests in Newfoundland and the approaches to the French colony of Canada.

New France Area colonized by France in North America

New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (1763).

British North America Former British imperial territories

British North America refers to the former territories of the British Empire in North America, not including the Caribbean. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report. These territories today form modern-day Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador Town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Placentia is a town located in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It consists of the Argentia Industrial Park and amalgamated communities of Townside, Freshwater, Dunville, Southeast, and Jerseyside.


King William's War

In order to protect the bay, there was one fort erected, Fort Plaisance (1662) (also known as Vieux Fort) between 1662-1690. [1]

Fort Plaisance building in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Fort Plaisance was a French fort built in the 17th century on the island of Newfoundland at the time of the New France.

During King William's War, on 25 February 1690, 45 British freebooters from Ferryland led by Herman Williamson attacked Plaisance by land. After killing two soldiers and wounding governor Louis de Pastour de Costebelle, they took possession of the town and destroyed the fort. The population was imprisoned in the church for six weeks, until the English left on 5 April with the colony's supplies. [2]

King Williams War North American theater of the Nine Years War

King William's War was the North American theater of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), also known as the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg. It was the first of six colonial wars fought between New France and New England along with their respective Native allies before France ceded its remaining mainland territories in North America east of the Mississippi River in 1763.

Louis de Pastour de Costebelle naval officer served as interim governor of Plaisance (Placentia), Newfoundland, before the arrival of Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan in 1690. Costebelle came to Newfoundland as head of a detachment of soldiers in 1687.

The French replaced former Fort Plaisance with Fort Saint-Louis (1691), with 50 French soldiers. In the fall of 1692, in the Battle of Placentia (1692), under the command of Commodore Thomas Gillam (Williams), five English ships armed with 62 cannon and 800 men. The English damaged several houses with cannon fire, and on 23 September the fleet withdrew. [3] The French made attacks on St. John's in 1692 and 1694.

Fort Saint Louis (Newfoundland) building in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Fort Saint Louis was a French fort built in the 17th century on the island of Newfoundland at the time of the New France.

Battle of Placentia (1692) 1692 battle of King Williams War

The Battle of Placentia (1692) was fought between the English and the French at Fort St. Louis in Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador during King William's War. The battle lasted from 16 September until 21 September 1692.

Fort Royal was built in 1693. [4] [5] French forces successfully raided British settlements during times of war while Fort Royal, atop Castle Hill, protected the colony from attack by British warships. At the end of 1693 the garrison had about 60 soldiers. Governor Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan (1691–97) mobilized a frigate and eight ships to attack English Newfoundland. He took possession of about 30 fishing boats, captured prisoners and seized a large amount of fish. De Monbeton was joined on this expedition by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, who marched overland from Plaisance to spearhead a punishing attack on the English settlements in a famous Avalon Peninsula Campaign. A strong British relief force of 1500 troops reoccupied St. John's in the summer of 1697: they found the town abandoned, pillaged and every building destroyed. The following year construction was begun at St. John's on a well-engineered fortification - Fort William - which was completed in 1700. [6]

Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan French military officer and Governor of Plaisance (Placentia), Newfoundland (1689-1701) and Acadia (1701-1705).

Avalon Peninsula Campaign 1690s French campaign against English settlements in Canada

The Avalon Peninsula Campaign occurred during King William's War when forces of New France, led by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Governor Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan, destroyed 23 English settlements along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland in the span of three months. The campaign began with raiding Ferryland on November 10, 1696 and continued along the coast until they raided the village of Heart's Content

Fort William, Newfoundland former fort in St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Fort William was a fort in St. John's built in 1698 to protect English interests on Newfoundland, primarily against French opposition. It was the original headquarters of the British garrison in Newfoundland. A second fort, known as Fort George was situated at the east end of the harbour connected by a subterranean passage with Fort William. On the south side of the Narrows, there was a third fortification called the Castle.

Queen Anne's War

During Queen Anne's War, the arrival of Governor Daniel d'Auger de Subercase in 1702 was beneficial. By giving seniority leave, he got rid of the undisciplined soldiers, and a grievance was removed when soldiers were supplied with free uniforms. The garrison was reinforced with Mi'kmaq, and privateers provided some defence at sea. [2] In 1705, Subercase attacked the English settlements. This expedition was a great success - only St. John's and Carbonear successfully resisted. Subercase had almost 500 regulars, French Canadians and Indians. He took the town of St. John, but the Fort William garrison held out and refused terms. After a five-week siege, Subercase retired to Placentia with all the booty his men and several hundred captive townspeople could carry. That summer, detachments of French and Indians attacked and burned out all English communities in Conception, Trinity and Bonavista Bays. Sporadic attacks continued throughout 1706, despite British reinforcement of the St. John's garrison.

Queen Annes War North American theater of the War of the Spanish Succession

Queen Anne's War (1702–1713) was the second in a series of French and Indian Wars fought in England's Thirteen American Colonies. The belligerents were France, French colonists, and various Indian tribes versus England, English colonists, and various Indian tribes for control of the American continent; the War of the Spanish Succession was primarily fought in Europe. It is also known as the Third Indian War or as the Second Intercolonial War in France. It was fought on three fronts:

  1. Spanish Florida and the English Province of Carolina attacked one another, and the English colonists engaged the French colonists based at Mobile, Alabama, with allied Indians on both sides. The southern war did not result in significant territorial changes, but it had the effect of nearly wiping out the Indian population of Spanish Florida, including parts of southern Georgia, and destroying the network of Spanish missions in Florida.
  2. The English colonists of New England fought against French colonists and Indian forces in Acadia and Canada. Quebec City was repeatedly targeted by British colonial expeditions, and the Acadian capital Port Royal was taken in 1710. The French colonists and the Wabanaki Confederacy sought to thwart New England expansion into Acadia, whose border New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. They executed raids in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, most famously the raid on Deerfield in 1704.
  3. English colonists based at St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador disputed control of the island with the French colonists of Plaisance. Most of the conflict consisted of economically destructive raids on settlements. The French colonists successfully captured St. John's in 1709, but the British colonists quickly reoccupied it after the French abandoned it.
Daniel dAuger de Subercase French navy officer

Daniel d'Auger de Subercase naval officer and French governor of Newfoundland and later Acadia, born Orthez, Béarn died Cannes-Écluse, Île-de-France. Subercase was baptised a Protestant to Jean Dauger, a rich merchant and bourgeois who had purchased several noble estates, including the lay abbey of Subercase, near Asson.

Siege of St. Johns

The Siege of St. John's was a failed attempt by French forces led by Daniel d'Auger de Subercase to take the fort at St. John's, Newfoundland during the winter months of 1705, in Queen Anne's War. Leading a mixed force of regulars, militia, and Indians, Subercase burned much of the town and laid an ineffectual siege against the fort for five weeks between late January and early March 1705. Subercase lifted the siege after running out of provisions and gunpowder.

In 1708, England blockaded Plaisance to starve the capital, which also contained 500 English prisoners. Despite the blockade, Joseph de Monbeton de Brouillan de Saint-Ovide  [ fr ], [7] king's lieutenant to Philippe Pastour de Costebelle, attacked English settlements and in January 1709, with a force of 170 men, French, Canadians and Indians, he took St. John's, captured 800 prisoners and destroyed the town's defences.

The garrison numbered 250 by 1711. Governor Brouillan had previously estimated that the colony needed at least 300 soldiers to ensure an effective defence. [2]

In 1713, the French gave up their right to settlement in Newfoundland and established a new stronghold at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. British settlers replaced the French and their soldiers garrisoned the fortifications until 1811. [8]

Father Rale's War

Fort Frederick PlacentiaNL FortFrederickPlaque.jpg
Fort Frederick
Fort Frederick Newfoundland Map FortFrederickNewfoundland.png
Fort Frederick Newfoundland Map

After briefly occupying Fort Louis, under the command of Samuel Gledhill, the British built the redoubt Fort Frederick (Newfoundland) to help fortify their acquisition of Placentia. It served as the military headquarters for Newfoundland from 1721-1746. There was a report that the Mi'kmaq were involved in a raid of Pleasance during Father Rale's War in which they were said to have killed 200 English. Governor Drummer did not believe the report. [9]

By the 1740s, the British began construction of New Fort which overlaid the former Fort Louis. [10]

Castle Hill National Historic Site

Designated a National Historic Site in 1968, [11] after years of archeological projects, today the ruins of the fort are managed by Parks Canada, and known as Castle Hill National Historic Site.

Key elements of the site today:

The visitor center features exhibits about the history of the fort, and the lives of the fishing families and soldiers who lived there.


On 28 June 1985 Canada Post issued 'Castle Hill, Nfld., circa 1762' one of the 20 stamps in the "Forts Across Canada Series" (1983 & 1985). The stamps are perforated 12½ x 13 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited based on the designs by Rolf P. Harder. [12]

Units at the garrison

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Philippe Pastour de Costebelle Governor of Plaisance and Île-Royale

Philippe Pastour de Costebelle was a naval officer and Governor of Newfoundland, born in Languedoc and died in Louisbourg.

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  1. "The Historical Archaeology of a French Fortification in the Colony of Plaisance: The Vieux Fort Site (ChAl-04), Placentia, Newfoundland".
  2. 1 2 3 "The Plaisance Garrison".
  3. "Wartime".
  4. "Account Suspended".
  5. Canada-Québec, Synthèse Historique, Éditions du Renouveau Pédagogique Inc. pp.122–123
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Biography – MONBETON DE BROUILLAN, Saint-Ovide, JOSEPH DE – Volume III (1741-1770) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  8. "Castle Hill National Historic Site of Canada". Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
  9. Society, Maine Historical (3 November 2017). "Collections of the Maine Historical Society. [1st Ser.̈" via Google Books.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Castle Hill . Canadian Register of Historic Places . Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  12. "Canadian Postal Archives Database".

Coordinates: 47°15′3.88″N53°58′17.31″W / 47.2510778°N 53.9714750°W / 47.2510778; -53.9714750 (Castle Hill)