John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), embarked on a trans-Atlantic voyage from Bristol, England aboard his ship The Matthew in May 1497 and sighted land at what is now Cape Bonavista on June 24th, 1497. This is where it all beganů The town of Bonavista has many historic sites including the Ryan Premises National Historic Site, Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, the Mockbeggar Plantation, the Dungeon, the Matthew Legacy Building and the Matthew Ship Replica (Cabot's ship). The Ryan Premises was once the home of James Ryan Ltd., one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest salt fish mercantile firms. Nearby is the Terra Nova National Park.
Giovanni Caboto, the freelance Venetian explorer, was contracted by England's Henry VII to find new lands, and that "inevitable" route to the Orient. Caboto set sail in his ship the Matthew. When Cabot first saw land at Cape Bonavista, he's reputed to have said "O Buono Vista!" The harbour is anything but ideal, but even without an enviable anchorage, Bonavista became one of the most important towns in Newfoundland. The primary reason: close access to the rich fishing and sealing grounds to the north of the peninsula. The Spanish, Portuguese, French and English fished off Cape Bonavista during the 1500s. The cape was a most important navigational point on the island for early explorers and fishermen.
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