Waging war on Signal Hill

Steve Bartlett
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British, French fought in St. John’s 250 years ago

Colville and Amherst met off Petty Harbour on Sept. 11 and discussed strategy.

Amherst wanted to land at “Kitty Vitty,” as he spelled it in a journal edited by John Clarence Webster and published in 1928.

Colville, however, convinced Amherst to go ashore at Torbay because of the enemy “had stopped up this passage” through Quidi Vidi Gut by sinking small boats there.

The British arrived at Torbay Sept. 13 and were greeted by fire from a small French company that soon fled.

From there, Amherst and his men marched overland, through thick woods and bog, likely to what is now Bally Haly golf course and onto where The Boulevard currently begins.

They proceeded to an area called the Grove, around where the Royal Canadian Legion now stands. There, they faced enemy fire from a hill to the east, where Quidi Vidi Lake flows into a river.

Under cover from the fire from a party Amherst had sent to the top of another hill in response, British companies crossed the river and drove the French out.

That gave them control of Quidi Vidi, from where Amherst determined, “The Signal Hill which overlooks this and the whole ground to the Fort, we must gain.”

It’s the first documented reference of the name Signal Hill. It had been known as The Lookout prior to that.



Organizations: North American, British Navy, Royal Canadian Legion Signal Hill Tattoo Great Big Sea

Geographic location: Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Waging Torbay Fort William Colville Bay Bulls Halifax Petty Harbour Quidi Vidi Lake Narrows North America Paris France Islands of St-Pierre—Miquelon Louisburg Montreal Caribbean North America.Beside

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Recent comments

  • David Green
    July 18, 2012 - 11:56

    Interesting to read that the goal of the French military commanders was to destroy the fishing infrastructure. Were they alive today, I'm sure they would be happy to know the Harper government is continuing to do that for them.