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Fort Frederick

Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1972/03/08

Two cannon and a provincial commemorative marker on the site of the former Fort Frederick, Placentia, Newfoundland, August 2005.; HFNL/Dale Jarvis 2005
Site of Fort Frederick, Placentia, NL
Detail of the provincial commemorative marker on the site of the former Fort Frederick, Placentia, Newfoundland, August 2005.; HFNL 2005
Fort Frederick Plaque, Placentia, NL
From the logbook of the HMS Pegasus.  Plans for Fort Frederick were approved in 1715 and construction began in 1717.; National Archives of Canada, C-2532
Fort Frederick, Placentia, ca. 1789

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1715/01/01 to 1717/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/12/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Fort Frederick is the site of an eighteenth century English fort located in the community of Placentia, NL. This site is situated on a point of land just at the harbour mouth and is marked by a stone and concrete monument flanked by two cannon. The designation encompasses the area as described by the boundaries.

Heritage Value

Fort Frederick (Borden number ChAl-01) has been designated a Municipal Heritage Site because it holds historic values. The fort consisted of a semi-circular redoubt mounting twelve guns, a guard house, barracks and storehouse surrounded by a palisade. It was erected on the town side of Placentia in 1717 to protect English interests in the seasonal fishery. However, as a permanent population on the island grew, the role of the military increasingly became one of maintaining public order and suppressing civil unrest. England withdrew its military garrisons from Newfoundland in 1870, thus paving the way for the establishment of a civilian police force.

Fort Frederick was the military headquarters in Newfoundland from 1721-1746. However, the fort was poorly maintained from the beginning and by 1744 the redoubt had to be strengthened by a timber and sod-work facing and the number of guns reduced to eight. Bastions were then added to the landward angles of the palisade, upon which were mounted Coehorn mortars (a mortar first used in 1674 which fired at a fixed angle of elevation of 45 degrees). After a partial repair in 1762 the works were allowed to decay and were finally abandoned in 1811 when the ordnance was removed. Two 12 pounder cannon were mounted behind a temporary earthwork battery near this site in 1813 as protection against American privateers and can still be seen. Much of the Portland stone facing of the redoubt is incorporated in the fabric of the Placentia convent of the Presentation Sisters.

Fort Frederick is historically valuable for the archaeological information it reveals about eighteenth century military life. Archaeological work on the Fort Frederick site in 2000-2002 revealed a large collection of artifacts. Archaeologists uncovered barrel staves, cannon and musket balls, flints, Dutch tobacco pipes, pieces of pottery and tableware and coins. One coin in particular dates to 1630, confirming that Placentia was occupied by people before the French colony of Plaisance was established in 1660.

Source: Town of Placentia Council, March 7, 1972; moved by Councillor Richard McLennon and seconded by Councillor Gus Mooney.

Character-Defining Elements

All those remaining elements of the eighteenth century English fort, including:
-2 cannon;
-existing commemorative plaque;
-any evident above ground features and the visible remains of the redoubt which has been covered by sods; and
-the openness of the landscape and lack of built structures upon the landscape.

All those elements that respect the archaeological site and artifacts, including:
-in-situ archaeological remnants of Fort Frederick in their location, form and materials as well as artifacts removed from any and all of these sites in an intact and documented state.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type


Commemorative Monument


Civil Defence Site

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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