Following John Guy's Indeavour

Heritage group commemorating the historic voyage from Cupids to Trinity Bay

Terry Roberts editor@cbncompass.ca
Published on November 15, 2012
A new history board commemorating the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Indeavour was unveiled in Bay de Verde on Nov. 1. Shown here are, from left, Brendan Doyle, Molly Walsh, Gerald Riggs and Carl Riggs of the Bay de Verde Heritage Committee, and Brian Walsh (Bay de Verde), Gerald Smith (Dildo), Bill Gilbert (Blaketown) and Roland "Dan" Burke (Victoria) of the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation.
Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass

Editor's note: the following was first published in the Nov. 6, 2012 print edition of The Compass.

Heritage enthusiasts on the Baccalieu Trail launched a unique effort last week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the vessel Indeavour from Cupids.

The voyage, led by colonists John Guy and Henry Crout, is described by many as a notable point in this province's long history, since it helped document some of the earliest ethnographic information on the now-extinct Beothuk Indians, and provided some of the earliest descriptions of modern-day places such as Bay de Verde, Hopeall, Dildo Arm and Blaketown.

The initiative is led by the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation, and includes the unveiling of history boards at 10 locations throughout the region where the Indeavour and her adventurous crew visited during the voyage.

The first history board was unveiled in Harbour Grace on Oct. 31, where the Indeavour spent 10 days four centuries ago.

The second was unveiled during a ceremony in Bay de Verde on Nov. 1.

A third ceremony was scheduled to take place in Hopeall on Nov. 5, following by events at Dildo Arm and Dildo Island (Nov. 6), Collier Bay (Nov. 13), Come by Chance (Nov. 16), Heart's Content (Nov. 20), Job's Cove, North Shore (Nov. 30), and Carbonear (Dec. 5). Each event begins at 2 p.m.

The intent is to follow the voyage in "real time" as the Indeavour made its way into Trinity Bay in search of the Beothuk, said archeologist Bill Gilbert, who is credited with discovering what is considered Canada's first English settlement at Cupids.

Delayed by pirates

Much of the details of the voyage are contained in diaries kept by Guy, Crout and other members of the crew, and helped Gilbert and others discover a trove of archeological treasures over the last two decades.

The intent of the voyage was to establish friendly relations with the Beothuk and begin a fur trade.

The Indeavour was built in Cupids specifically for this mission, and is thought to be the first decked ocean-going vessel built in Canada. It sailed with 14 crew, including John Guy, and was accompanied by a smaller shallop carrying five colonists.

After some difficulty, the two vessels reached Trinity Bay and discovered plenty of evidence of Beothuk occupation. In early November, 1612, Guy and his men met with the Beothuk, shared a meal and exchanged gifts.

On the return voyage, the shallop was wrecked in Bay de Verde and the five crew were forced to walk to Carbonear. The Indeavour went off course and sailed south to Renews, but later returned safely to Cupids.

Many have questioned why the voyage was undertaken so late in the fall, but evidence suggests that pirate Peter Easton was to blame. Gilbert said Easton, who by this time commanded a fleet of nine ships and 500 men, left the area in September 1612, making it safe for the Indeavour to sail.

"He sailed east to the Azores, attacked a Spanish treasure fleet that was bringing back silver from South America, and later retired to the south of France," Gilbert said.

Meanwhile, the corporation is also posting entries from John Guy's and Henry Crout's journals on its website (www.baccalieudigs.ca).

editor@cbncompass.ca