The editors of a biography about the life and times of merchant and Cupids founder John Guy of Bristol, England say it may have been some four centuries in the making, but was well worth the wait.
W. Gordon Handcock of Eastport and Chesley W. Sanger of Grand Falls-Windsor were in Cupids last week as part of the visiting author series at the Cupids Legacy Centre. The book is called "John Guy of Bristol and Newfoundland: His Life, Times and Legacy," and was released in January by Flanker Press of St. John's.
Handcock and Sanger talked about how they managed to complete a project initially started by the book's author and fellow geographical historian, the late Allan F. Williams.
"He was in Newfoundland for one year, but he put a life's work - about three decades - into John Guy," Sanger told a group of about 20 people.
Like Guy, Williams was born, raised and educated in Bristol. He came to St. John's in the early 1960s to work as a professor at Memorial University, and it was during a field trip to Cupids that his fascination with John Guy really took hold.
Williams spent many years researching the book, which shines a spotlight on Guy's efforts to establish the first English settlement in Canada in 1610, at a location known today at Cupids. Guy was in his early 40s when he arrived in "Cuper's Cove" in July 1610, and is described as "able, determined and well-prepared" by the book's editors.
Of the roughly 50 men who spent that first winter in Cupids, only four perished, Sanger explained. By comparison, about 70 of the 120 people who first settled at Jamestown - the first permanent settlement in the United States - three years earlier did not survive.
"He governed very well," said Sanger.
The province marked the anniversary of Guy's exploits in Newfoundland with a year-long celebration last year called Cupids 400.
The book also explores Guy's life as an influential merchant, civic leader and "among the most successful planters of his time," said Sanger.
Williams finished the manuscript in the late 1990s, about five years before he died in 2003.
Inspired by the 400th anniversary of Guy's arrival in Cupids, Handcock and Sanger went to work and finished Williams' book.
Both are former students and colleagues of Williams.
"We had to produce a book worthy of his research," said Sanger.
Flanker owner Garry Cranford believes Handcock and Sanger accomplished their goal, and described the book as "the most important in the 13 years I've been at this."
Cranford referred to the book as yet another "artifact" in the story of Cupids, one that will complement the Legacy Centre, which opened last year to great fanfare.
The editors praised archeologist Bill Gilbert, saying, "If not for him, it would be far less of a book."
Profits from the sale of the book are being used to fund a geography scholarship in Williams' name at Memorial University.