- Bonavista is where modern North America began. On June 24th, 1497, and Italian explorer sailing under the British flag for King Henry VII, made landfall in the New World. "O Buona Vista," Giovani Caboto was said to exclaim after nearly two months at sea. Oh happy site! News of the existance of the this New Found Land - and the riches of the Grand Bank fishery - spread throughout Europe after Cabot's return journey across the Atlantic.
- Caboto was an adventurer, who after failing to muster up funding in his home country, went to the King of England promising him spices from the far east in exchange for money and supplies. Under the negotiated deal, Caboto and his three sons were given permision to set sail from Bristol, the most westerly port in England to "discover and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces" lay to the west.
- Although Caboto found no spice, the fishing grounds were so plentiful that the crew could dip buckets in the water and fill them with cod fish. King Henry VII was pleased enough to reward Caboto the impressive sum of 10 pounds. And so the Bonavista boom began.
- English, Spanish, Portuguese and French fishermen fished off Cape Bonavista in the 1500's and though Bonavista offered poor shelter and had less than ideal anchorage, it became one of the most important towns in Newfoundland.
- Other communities have laid claim to the site of Cabot's first landfall, but it is Bonavista that is identified as such on John Mason's map (1615-21). Bonavista was also documented by the great cartographer Captain James Cook, who made his headquarters here in 1763. Cook noted Bonavista was settled before 1660.
- In 1696, the French invaded Bonavista in an attept to take the settlement but more than 300 men were able to save it from invasion. Bonavista, like most desirable fishing harbours, experienced the rule of the fishing admirals who often made life difficult for those who wish to settle permantly.
- In the last decade of the 19th century, Bonavista was a booming town that serviced the 20,000 people living on the peninsula.
- Today The Town of Bonavista is modern community with a rich history and continues to grow both economically and culturally. We welcome you to come visit our scenic community and experience the exhuberant hospitality of our wondefrful people and their culture.
For more historical information about our town, please check out one of our partners:
|Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation
||Ye Matthew Legacy