Ques­tions about Cupids need an­swer­ing, says writer

The Compass - - OPINION -

While go­ing to high school in Cupids, we learned a lit­tle about John Guy and Sea For­est Plan­ta­tion. When­ever I spoke to elders look­ing for more in­for­ma­tion about this sub­ject, I al­most al­ways got an ex­pres­sion of doubt about John Guy choos­ing what is to­day known as Cupids for the site of his plan­ta­tion.

Be­ing re­al­is­tic, they, for the most part, based their opin­ions on com­mon sense and the sto­ries of their an­ces­tors. My cu­rios­ity about this peaked again when talk of the 400year cel­e­bra­tions started. Af­ter read­ing John Guy’s let­ter to Sir Per­ci­val Wil­loughby and “‘The Char­ter of Avalon,” along with other bits of in­for­ma­tion that gave in­sight into life around this pe­riod, I came to the con­clu­sion that the old peo­ple from Burnt Head, Cupids, were prob­a­bly cor­rect.

I be­came more con­vinced when I ob­tained maps from this pe­riod show­ing Salmon Cove and Avon­dale to be the same lo­ca­tion. In fact, the change of the name from Salmon Cove to Avon­dale took place in 1901. The name Salmon Cove, for that part of Port de Grave near Cupids, came into use dur­ing the 1850s.

Some maps from the 1600s show only Burnt Head and Port de Grave in Bay de Grave. None show a Salmon Cove or any of the names which have been used for Cupids. These names ap­pear on maps in the Avon­dale area.

Cupids lacked ad­van­tages

Hav­ing ex­plored Con­cep­tion Bay dur­ing 1608, John Guy most likely would have known that just around the point from Col­liers Bay was a bet­ter shel­tered har­bour with more fer­tile soil as well as a river of­fer­ing bet­ter ac­cess to trees and furs. What is now Cupids lacked these ad­van­tages.

Be­cause of his in­struc­tions from the com­pany and the pat­tern of set­tle­ment al­ready es­tab­lished, he most likely would have avoided Bay de Grave if he was fa­mil­iar with it.

When Gillian Cell wrote “New­found­land Dis­cov­ered” and “English En­ter­prise in New­found­land 1577-1660,” she had no knowl­edge of the dif­fer­ent opin­ions con­cern­ing the site cho­sen by John Guy for his plan­ta­tion. Prob­a­bly this was be­cause she was not aware of the use of Salmon Cove for dif­fer­ent ar­eas of Con­cep­tion Bay. When in­formed of the fact that Salmon Cove was Avon­dale dur­ing the 1600s, she found it “in­ter­est­ing,” but could of­fer no thoughts on the mat­ter.

How­ever, in her book “New­found­land Dis­cov­ered” she did note that the Avon men­tioned in “1612 John Guy’s Jour­nal of a Voy­age to Trin­ity Bay” prob­a­bly re­ferred to mod­ern day Avon­dale. I was look­ing for­ward to see­ing if Dr. Alan F. Wil­liams would dis­cuss this is­sue in his book on John Guy. While he did rec­og­nize John Guy’s knowl­edge of the Avon­dale area, he was very brief and in­de­ci­sive.

He did say that there is no ev­i­dence of John Guy’s in­ter­est in this area, even though John Guy did record a knowl­edge of the qual­ity of the shell­fish in Col­liers Bay. Mr. Wil­liams did, how­ever, point out that John Guy willed this land around Avon­dale to his four sons.

John Guy, Oc­to­ber 1610, the grant of Avalon to Sir Ge­orge Calvert, April 1623, and John Ma­son, 1620, di­rectly and in­di­rectly re­ferred to John Guy’s site lo­ca­tion in Con­cep­tion Bay. John Guy and the Avalon grant were fairly spe­cific in their de­scrip­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Gilleon Cell, John Ma­son of­fered “the only ex­plicit ref­er­ence we have to the ex­is­tence of two ar­eas of set­tle­ment in Con­cep­tion Bay.”

Er­ro­neous state­ments

The in­for­ma­tion from these three sources must have been a prob­lem for Dr. Wil­liams and his ed­i­tors. They tried to ex­plain John Guy’s de­scrip­tion of his site lo­ca­tion as be­ing present day Cupids by mak­ing the er­ro­neous state­ment that what was once Salmon Cove is now Port de Grave.

As stated above, only part of Port de Grave be­came known as Salmon Cove af­ter the 1840s. Like Gilleon Cell’s book, this cre­ates a prob­lem when try­ing to sep­a­rate the work of John Guy from the his­tory of Cupids. Ques­tions about the John Guy story were ex­pressed and recorded around the time of the 1910 cel­e­bra­tions.

With the ease of ac­cess to doc­u­ments and maps from the early 1600 pe­riod, ques­tions are go­ing to continue to arise. Not only ques­tions con­cern­ing the place of John Guy’s at­tempt at set­tle­ment, but also about his ac­tiv­i­ties.

The English com­pany which sent John Guy out to New­found­land wanted him to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of trad­ing with the Beothuck. It is in­ter­est­ing to com­pare his ac­count of his meet­ing in Trin­ity Bay, a bay where Beothuck were known to come only to ha­rass and steal from fish­er­men, and trad­ing with the In­di­ans in 1611, to the ex­pe­ri­ences of fish­er­men around Trin­ity Bay as recorded by Cap­tain Richard Whit­bourne in 1622.

Also, ques­tion­able is the im­por­tance of the work done by John Guy. Mil­lions have been spent to mark his achieve­ments while on Feb. 25, 1636, Trin­ity House with the words “we can say from the mouths of oth­ers that as yet none of all the ad­ven­tur­ers which have at­tempted in the New­found­land to set­tle there to live, and draw oth­ers to them, never thrived, the Lord Bal­ti­more, Cap­tain Ma­son, Mas­ter Guy of Bris­tol and other men in­ge­nious and of ex­cel- lent partes, yet wea­ried and so re­moved …” de­clared set­tle­ment in New­found­land a fail­ure.

In­di­ca­tions are that John Guy’s at­tempt at set­tle­ment did not prove very suc­cess­ful. As men­tioned above, John Ma­son made only a brief ref­er­ence to a sec­ond site other than Bris­tol’s Hope. The dis­tance he pro­vided would put it up the bay be­yond Bay de Grave.

Gillian Cell noted that three years af­ter the es­tab­lish­ment of Cupids Cove, Sa­muel Pur­chas did not even ac­knowl­edge ex­is­tence of the colony in the first edition of his “Pil­grim­age.” In the two sub­se­quent edi­tions of 1614 and 1617 he paid it only brief notice, al­though he had al­ready seen records con­cern­ing it.

Huge rock mounds

Three years af­ter John Guy sud­denly re­turned to Bris­tol, a grant was given to the com­pany for land in the Bris­tol’s Hope area to which they moved op­er­a­tions. At the time when the at­tempts at set­tle­ment in New­found­land were aban­doned, only the pos­si­ble faiths of set­tlers in Fer­ry­land, Re­news, and Bris­tol’s Hope were men­tioned.

In John Berry’s 1675 cen­sus, the only res­i­dent of Cupids recorded is a Mr. Steph Atkins, keeper of But­ler’s Cas­tle. For some early thoughts on the lo­ca­tion of But­ler’s cas­tle,

visit http://mikyo.com/but­ler/but­lero­ne­old­name.htm.

We can rule out any thoughts of the foun­da­tion be­ing John Guy’s Sea For­est, since we now know that he used this ti­tle to re­fer to his in­ter­ests in Avon­dale.

As a boy grow­ing up in Burnt Head, my friends and I played around these huge rock mounds and walls think­ing and talk­ing about the rea­son­ing and ef­fort re­quired to build such won­der­ful struc­tures. It is a pity that with all the money spent more ef­fort could not have gone into an at­tempt to dis­cover the truth.

But if the real mo­tive for the ex­er­cise was ob­scured by the motto “Pre­pare to make His­tory,” and John Guy was used only as the “engine” to give it mo­men­tum, then could not the truth be­come an ob­sta­cle?

Philip Bishop writes from Cupids. He is a re­tired ed­u­ca­tor who’s long been in­ter­ested in the his­tory of Cupids, es­pe­cially the area of town known as Burnt Head.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.