Cupids reverie

Paul Sparkes
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A forgotten frontier finds new lease on life

Cupids Harbour. — Photo illustration by Paul Sparkes/Joanne Snook-Hann

There could have been no lonelier night than the first one ashore in the chosen spot which is now known as Cupids.    

The comfort and familiarity of the lush West Country, with its hamlets and candle-lit windows at night, its cottage chimneys curling smoke from glowing turf, coal and wood was far, far away.  

Were some of those venturesome men hesitant to leave the bobbing but familiar ship — their home for perhaps six weeks? The shoreline was at least stable — but unknown.

As the first evening came and the light faded behind Cupids harbour, the evergreens would have blackened and the tangible world would have become that of wind and tide and the shouts of labour on a darkened stage.

I do not want imagination to create an incorrect picture. But when we get close to the long-departed as their handiwork returns to the light of day, it is easier to muse on them as real humans, rather than players in an academic tableau.

These were people accustomed to physical work, the kind of demanding tasks that allowed little time for homesickness, even in an age of reflection through poetry and prayer.

Likely they were akin to the same doughty stock as John Guy, who rose from  humble ranks and became a company director and mayor of Bristol — a significant rise in those days of the “born great.”

When you look at the large rocks arranged 400 years ago to form a rampart for cannon and a cellar for food (the larder trumped even the house in building priority) you know that these were people with strength and the calloused hands and stooped backs that went with it.

With the detritus of four centuries scooped away, the rocks look as though they were placed there yesterday. Studying them from the boardwalks at the Cupids dig site, staring down into those neat grids which define the current work, you can suddenly feel that those people — born in the reign of Elizabeth I and who sailed in the time of James I — are not so very far away from you.

But you can also experience the opposite. How thoroughly the land obscures the scars we leave. How determined time is to place things behind it. A panel board depicts the roughly L-shaped house built by the colonists. And there were other structures: a mill, a forge, other cellars.

Yet time’s tools of water, wind, frost, erosion and dead plants are constantly employed so that even long before our time all of this infrastructure was hidden. When lead archeologist William Gilbert wrote (Riddle Fence, No. 6, 2010) about a 1995 survey at Cupids, he in fact showed how thoroughly hidden it was: “We narrowed down the location and after eight days found the site on a dry, level terrace at the bottom of Cupids Harbour.”

An indicator of how painstaking is the work of recovering the past here may be gathered from the fact that this discovery was 15 years ago and the work continues today.

 

What constitutes a failed settlement?

In the above-mentioned publication, there was an inserted sheet where Roy Dawe, chairman of Cupids 400 Inc., had argued against calling Guy’s colony “failed,” as editor Mark Callanan had done ever so casually. Dawe penned a very readable case. Gilbert’s article in that same magazine corrects a century-old mistake of the same nature by our too-celebrated historian Daniel Woodley Prowse.

Callanan was in good company: Prowse, in 1895, and two years later our renowned Moses Harvey in 1897, when he wrote a little book to celebrate Newfoundland in the context of Victoria’s diamond jubilee.

After naming the high and mighty who were “associated with the enterprise” at Cupids, Harvey wrote, “Guy was appointed governor of the proposed colony and came out with a body of settlers; but this attempt also proved a failure.” His use of “also” was in reference to Virginia, as he wrote, “but neither was this attempt successful at first.” Harvey does not provide proof of failure. The argument is far stronger for success.

Communities evolve (Harbour Grace was once more important than St. John’s), but as they tend to wax and wane, it’s a risky practice to start fixing “failure” points.

Cupids in my youth was hopelessly ho-hum. Today it is nothing short of amazing how history is becoming a new and potent economic driver for the town.

If in the coming years Cupids receives only a fraction of the money poured into the site of the first French settlement in North America (Quebec was founded by Champlain in 1608), what it will be in time is truly fair ground for today’s imagination.

 

Paul Sparkes is a longtime journalist who has always been intrigued by the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Drop him a line at psparkes@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Cupids 400

Geographic location: West Country, Bristol, Newfoundland and Labrador Victoria Virginia North America Quebec

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  • DON II
    September 22, 2012 - 11:00

    In response to the comments from Ronald: It appears that you do not want to accept historical facts and prefer to believe the fictional version of the history of Cupids. It is understandable that some people would not appreciate or accept the revelation of factual historical information which is directly contradictory to the fictional version of the history of their community which they were taught and believed. The public has been misled into believing the fictional version of Cupids history for decades. The problem is that nobody seriously questioned what they were being told. The public accepted the opinions of the historians, archaeologists and authors without requiring conclusive proof and an independent review of all of the unedited documentation. Everybody believed that John Guy landed in Cupids and built his Sea Forest Plantation in Cupids. The historical facts reveal that John Guy NEVER built his Sea Forest Plantation in Cupids! The fiction that John Guy landed in Cupids and built his Sea Forest Plantation in Cupids was written about and repeated so often that it became an accepted historical "fact" which the public believed was true. It appears that by referring to my opinions as "ramblings" you are attempting to diminish the credibility or dismiss the impact of those opinions which are not based on speculation, myth or a repeated fictional version of history but on well documented and tangible historical fact. I am interested in revealing the historical facts as opposed to accepting and promoting the fictional history of Cupids which has been promoted for decades. The maps, letters and documents have been available for some time at Memorial University or on the MUN map archives website for anyone to see. Have you seen the unedited historic maps, letters and documents that I am referring to? If you have not reviewed and analyzed the unedited documents, letters and maps it would be impossible for you to have an informed and intelligent opinion about what they reveal. I reiterate my points because it is necessary for the public to know that the fictional version of Cupids history was promoted at great tax payer expense by the Government of Newfoundland and was based on political expedience, promotion of vested interests, misinterpretation, editing and/or suppression of historical facts, documents, letters and maps. On October 6, 1610, John Guy wrote that Cupers Cove where he landed was a branch of Salmon Cove. The maps and documents reveal that Salmon Cove was NOT located near Cupids in the 1600's. Edward Wynne of the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland wrote to George Calvert in 1622 about "our Northern Plantation." That very pertinent sentence of the Wynne letter in which he referred to "our Northern Plantation" was not included in the republished version of the letter contained the D.W. Prowse book in 1895. There is documented opinion that the Colony of Avalon purchased or acquired the Cupers Cove Plantation from the London and Bristol Company. Accordingly, Edward Wynne must have been referring to the Cupers Cove Plantation as "our Northern Plantation" as it was the only other documented Plantation which could have been owned or controlled by the Colony of Avalon and located inside the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon in 1622. The documents, letters and maps clearly show that the site of the original Cupers Cove Plantation is located somewhere between Avondale and Holyrood and NOT at Cupids! If Cupids is Cupers Cove, the site of the First English Settlement in CANADA, why did the Government of Newfoundland choose not to name the site in Cupids as the Cupers Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site? It is clear from the documents and maps that John Guy was NOT referring to the Salmon Cove which is located near Cupids today. It is clear that Cupids is NOT the location of Cupers Cove because there was no place called Salmon Cove located near Cupids when John Guy arrived in 1610. However, the maps, letters and documents clearly show that there was a place called Salmon Cove located near where the town of Avondale is located today. It is clear that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove and that the artifacts and remnants of buildings unearthed at Cupids cannot be those of John Guy and his colonists. Due to decades of misinterpretation, editing or suppression of historic facts and the repeated claims that John Guy landed in Cupids, the public was misled into believing that Cupids is Cupers Cove. The historic documents, letters and maps show that John Guy did NOT land at Cupid in1610 and that Cupids is NOT the site of the First English Settlement in Canada! The Government of Newfoundland spent millions of tax payer dollars to promote the fictional version of the history of Cupids when it knew or ought reasonably to have known that documents, letters and maps existed which clearly show that the undiscovered authentic historic site of Cupers Cove is located somewhere between Avondale and Holyrood! It appears that some people do not want the historic facts to come to light. The erroneous interpretation and suppression of historical fact regarding Cupers Cove is a serious matter which must be investigated, revealed and corrected. The Government of Newfoundland must be required to answer questions regarding the reasons why it spent millions of tax payer dollars to promote the fictional history of Cupids as the First English Settlement in Canada when it knew or ought reasonably to have known that there was well documented historic evidence which revealed that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove and that Cupids is NOT be the site of the First English Settlement in Canada!

  • DON II
    September 20, 2012 - 12:10

    I completely disagree with Bill Gilberts assertion that knowing the location of the Salmon Cove in the 1600's is not a main piece of evidence required in locating the site of the authentic Cupers Cove Plantation. Evidence that the location of the Salmon Cove which John Guy wrote about is located near the town of Avondale is a determining factor and an essential piece of evidence that is needed in order to find the site of the authentic Cupers Cove Plantation. It is essential to determine the location of the Salmon Cove situated near where John Guy landed in 1610 in order to find the authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation. Knowing where the Salmon Cove that John Guy referred to as a landmark would be an essential piece of evidence to enable the discovery of the location of Cupers Cove. Without proper analysis of direct historical documentary, map and physical evidence, finding the location of Cupers Cove and the authentic remains of the Cupers Cove Plantation would be virtually impossible. It appears that claims that Cupids is Cupers Cove are based on speculation, erroneous interpretation and local myths which amount to nothing more than psuedo-Archaeology. It is a documented fact that John Guy stated in his letter of October 6, 1610 that Cupers Cove was a branch of Salmon Cove. People have been misled into believing that because there is a Salmon Cove located near Cupids today that it's existence proves that Cupids is Cupers Cove. The assumption that the existence of a Salmon Cove near Cupids proves that Cupids is Cupers Cove is not supported by the historic documents and maps. Claims that Salmon Cove near Cupids is the place that John Guy wrote about in 1610 is erroneous, misleading and not supported by the historical facts. Documents and maps of Conception Bay from the 1600's and 1700's show clearly that there was no place called Salmon Cove located near Cupids when John Guy arrived. Logically, the Salmon Cove located near Cupids could not be the Salmon Cove to which John Guy referred because the documents and maps show that the Salmon Cove near Cupids did not exist when John Guy wrote his letter on October 6, 1610! The documents clearly show that the Salmon Cove that John Guy wrote of was a boundary of the Colony of Avalon which was not located anywhere near Cupids. I note that Bill Gilbert refers to the John Mason map and the name "Cuperts Cove" which appears on that map as being located where Cupids is now. The Mason map is NOT conclusive proof that Cupers Cove and Cupids are the same place. In his book, "A History of Newfoundland" D.W. Prowse states that "A close examination of this map shows that it was not constructed by Mason..." The fact that the Governor of "Cupers Cove" would spell the name of his colony incorrectly is extremely indicative that some other person or persons who had no direct knowledge of the location of Cupers Cove constructed the so called Mason map. It appears that Robert Robinsons map of "Coopers Cove" in 1669 was also based on the erroneous content of the Mason map. The Mason map which was not created by John Mason gives the erroneous impression that Cupers Cove is the same place as Cupids Cove. A map made by John Senex and published in 1719 clearly shows "Cooper's Cove" located near where Avondale is located now. It is clear that both Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove existed in Conception Bay but at two separate and distinct locations which were not in close proximity to each other. We must rely on John Guy's own words when he wrote that Cupers Cove was a branch of Salmon Cove. The documents and maps clearly show that there was no Salmon Cove located near Cupids in the 1600's. There can be no mistake that the Salmon Cove which is referred to in John Guy's letter of October 6, 1610, described in historic documents including the Royal Charter of the Colony of Avalon and shown on numerous maps of Conception Bay from the 1600's and 1700's is located where Avondale is now. The documents and maps clearly places the location of Cupers Cove as being near where Avondale is located today. The Town of Avondale was formerly known as Salmon Cove! It is clear from the documents and maps that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove and consequently cannot be the site of the First English Settlement in Canada! With regard to Sir William Alexanders statement about the first houses for habitation being at Cupids Cove, it is clear that Sir William Alexander must not have been aware of the correspondence between Queen Elizabeth I and her officials which recognized the existence of settlers and habitation in Newfoundland in the late 1500's. Certainly, these early inhabitants and fishers were building and living in dwelling houses in St. John's and other locations prior to those that were built at Cupids. John Guy wrote that "This harbour is three leagues (9 miles) distance from Colliers Bay to the Northeastward." Considering that the Mason map depicts a Compass which shows North as South and East as West, there have been misleading interpretations of what John Guy meant by his directions. Despite misinterpretation and misleading statements, the correct interpretation of the location of Cupers Cove must include the location of Salmon Cove as it existed in the 1600's. The fact is that Salmon Cove which was located near to Cupers Cove is shown on numerous maps located near Avondale and referred to in the Royal Charter of the Colony of Avalon as being a boundary of the Colony of Avalon which is clearly located near where Avondale is now. It is my understanding that the Government of Newfoundland had conclusive proof that the site in Cupids was the authentic location of the Cupers Cove Plantation established by John Guy in 1610. It appears that conclusive proof is the reason why millions of dollars of tax payer money was poured into promoting Cupids as the site of the First English Settlement in Canada. Mr. Gilberts statement regarding the reason why the site in Cupids is not named the Cupers Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site is not persuasive. Is the site in Cupids the real and authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation which was the First English Settlement in Canada or not? The location of the early homestead which has been unearthed in Cupids and expropriated by the Government of Newfoundland as the site of the Cupers Cove Plantation was known for many years and the site was erroneously known and promoted as being the site of the Sea Forest Plantation. The historical documents and maps clearly show that the Sea Forest Plantation and the Cupers Cove Plantation were NEVER located in Cupids! The historic record clearly shows that a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation is NEVER mentioned in the historical record of Newfoundland. The so called Cupids Cove Plantation is of no greater historical significance than any of the hundreds of other early homestead sites which can be unearthed anywhere in Conception Bay. It appears that the site in Cupids was expropriated by the Government of Newfoundland on the basis that it was the authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation. It now appears that the Government of Newfoundland had no conclusive proof that the site in Cupids is the authentic location of the Cupers Cove Plantation! What are the real reasons why the Government of Newfoundland named and designated the site as the Cupids Cove Plantation! There are questions regarding Cupids which must to be answered by the Government of Newfoundland. Is the site in Cupids the authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation or not? If the site in Cupids is the authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation why did the Government of Newfoundland decide not to designate the site as the Cupers Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site? Why did the Government of Newfoundland designate the site in Cupids as the Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site? Did did the Government of Newfoundland actually have conclusive proof that the site in Cupids is the authentic site of the Cupers Cove Plantation before it expropriated the land where the purported site is located? It appears that serious contradictions and questions which must be answered by the Government of Newfoundland regarding the reasons why the site in Cupids was not named the Cupers Cove Plantation. Why was land expropriated and millions of tax payer dollars spent to promote Cupids as the site of the First English Settlement in Canada when historic documents, the Royal Charter of the Colony of Avalon, John Guy's letter and numerous maps clearly show that the Cupers Cove Plantation, the site of that first English settlement in Canada, could NOT have been located in Cupids?

  • Bill Gilbert BTHC
    September 18, 2012 - 10:44

    I would like to thank Paul Sparkes for writing this evocative article on the early history of Cupids and the Telegram for publishing it. While I am not in the habit of responding to online comments, I feel that I need to address some of the points raised in the comments from “Don II” and Phillip Bishop. FIRST - John Guy and Henry Crout do mention that the colony established in 1610 colony was near a place called Salmon Cove but this is not one of the main pieces of evidence used to determine the location of the colony. Far more significant is John Guy’s statement in his letter of October 6, 1610 that the colony was located “three leagues”, or roughly 9 miles, “to the northeastward”of Colliers as is present day Cupids. SECOND - the statement that “none”of the early maps show “any of the names which have been used for Cupids”shows a lack of knowledge of maps from the period. Any number of early maps show ‘Cupers Cove’, or ‘Cupids Cove’, or some other variant of that name where the town of Cupids is today. The earliest of these was drawn by the colony’s second governor, John Mason and first published in 1625. It shows ‘Cuperts Cove’, as he spells it, in Conception Bay exactly where Cupids stands today. Another example is Robert Robinson’s “A Exact Map of Newfoundland...” dated 1669 which shows “Coopers Cove”just north of Brigus and south of Bay Roberts. THIRD - It is true that the Charter of Avalon records that the boundary of the colony of Avalon extended west to the bottom of Conception Bay “where it meets with the lands of John Guy, Citizen of Bristol, names Sea Forest”. However, as I have stated before, Sea Forest and the Cupers Cove colony were not the same place. Sea Forest was a private grant of land given to John Guy by the Newfoundland Company in return for services rendered. The Newfoundland Company had been granted all of Newfoundland in 1610 and it was they who established the first colony at Cupers Cove. Guy was a shareholder in the company and an employee. He did not own the land on which the colony was built and could not have willed it to his sons as he did with Sea Forest. FORTH - the question has also been raised as to why the province chose to name the Plantation site Cupids Cove instead of Cupers Cove. As it turns out, the name Cupids Cove is much older than some people believe and actually extends back to at least the 1620s. In fact, the first published name for the colony was Cupids Cove. Sir William Alexander was a friend of John Mason’s and a promoter of settlement in the New World. In 1622 he sent out a group of people to establish a colony in Nova Scotia. The attempt failed and his people spent the winter of 1622-23 in St. John’s. The next summer they sailed into Conception Bay where they sold their ship and took passage back to England with some migratory fishermen. In 1624 Alexander wrote and published a book entitled “An Encouragement to Colonies”. In his discussion of the colonies in Newfoundland he states the following : “The first houses for habitation were built in Cupids Cove within the Bay of Conception where people did dwell for sundry years together, and some, well satisfied both for pleasure and profit, are dwelling there still, finding small difference between the seasons of the year in that Climate and here.” I could go on but I think that speaks for itself. Bill Gilbert, Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation

    • Ronald
      September 21, 2012 - 20:56

      Don II you seem to be a complete instigator.. You make no sense in your ramblings. None at all. You are repeating things over and over with no concrete support!!!

  • DON II
    September 13, 2012 - 10:16

    It appears that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is being lobbied to provide more tax payer funding in addition to the millions already spent, to promote history in Cupids.The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has proclaimed that Cupids and Cupers Cove are one and the same place and that Cupids is the site of the first English settlement in Canada. Those proclamations appear to be based on a mistaken belief that when John Guy wrote that there was a place called Salmon Cove situated near to Cupers Cove that he was referring to the same Salmon Cove that is situated near to Cupids today. It is incorrectly assumed that because there is a Salmon Cove situated near to Cupids today that Cupids must be Cupers Cove. The assumption that the Salmon Cove located near Cupids today is the same Salmon Cove which was located near Cupers Cove in 1610 is simply not supported by the historic facts. Maps, documents and the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon from the 1600's clearly show that Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove both existed at separate locations in the early 1600's. The maps, documents and boundaries of the Colony of Avalon also clearly show that there was no place named Salmon Cove situated anywhere near Cupids Cove in the 1600's! There can be no doubt that there was no place named Salmon Cove near Cupids in the 1600's. It is not possible for Cupids to be Cupers Cove as John Guy specifically stated that Cupers Cove was a branch of Salmon Cove and evidence clearly shows that there was no Salmon Cove situated anywhere near Cupids in the 1600's! The documents and maps clearly show that both Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove existed in the early 1600's but were separate and distinct locations which had similar geographical features. However, John Guy's written description of the deep, virtually rock free and fertile soil which he found in Cupers Cove does not in any way match the shallow, rocky, slate filled poor quality soil which exists in most of Cupids. The maps, documents and boundaries of the Colony of Avalon clearly shows that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove. Accordingly, the maps, documents and boundaries of the Colony of Avalon clearly show that whatever site that has been found in Cupids simply cannot have any connection to John Guy and his colonists! The documents, maps and boundaries of the Colony of Avalon clearly show that the Salmon Cove which was located near Cupers Cove was situated in the area between Avondale (formerly known as Salmon Cove) and Conception Harbour/Holyrood. The documents clearly show that Cupids Cove was inhabited early in the 1600's and continued to be sparsely inhabited from the 1600's until today with the exception of some periods of time when habitation may have temporarily declined or lapsed due to French hostility or for other reasons. The documents clearly show that Cupers Cove was already named Cupperre's Cove when John Guy arrived in 1610. The local folklore in Cupids holds that John Guy was met by a fisherman from nearby Port-de-Grave when he arrived in 1610 who directed him to Cupers Cove. The assumption is that the fisherman directed John Guy into Cupids. There is no evidence that an encounter between John Guy and a fisherman ever happened. It is documented that John Guy had previously traveled to Newfoundland in 1608 and it is more probable that he found and determined that Cupers Cove was the most suitable location for the establishment of a Plantation and it is at Cupers Cove that John Guy landed when he returned to Newfoundland in1610. Based on the Edward Wynne letter of 1622 and the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon in 1623 it is probable that the Cupers Cove plantation was absorbed into the Colony of Avalon between 1621 and 1623 and at some point after that time the name Cupers Cove fell into disuse. After the name Cupers Cove vanished it was much easier to assume that Cupids was Cupers Cove because of the similarity in the names, local folklore, the opinions of Prowse and because the remains of a 17th century homestead and fishing room thought incorrectly to be the site of the "Sea Forest Plantation" had been known to exist in Cupids for many years. For decades, Cupids had been promoted as the place where the "Sea Forest Plantation" had been located and the belief that Cupids was Cupers Cove was foregone conclusion. However, the maps, documents and boundaries of the Colony of Avalon clearly show that the "Sea Forest Plantation" was NEVER located in Cupids! The town of Cupids has been afforded historic significance which is based on fiction and not fact. The facts speak for themselves. It appears that Government promotion of Cupids as the site of the first English settlement in Canada is not an authentic depiction of the real history of Cupids. Millions of tax payer dollars were poured into Cupids by the Government to promote the town as the site of the first English settlement in Canada. However, the facts, documents, maps and evidence from the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon shows that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove and therefore cannot be the site of the first English settlement in Canada! The Government of Newfoundland has never explained why it abandoned due diligence, failed to obtain conclusive proof of historic authenticity and spent millions of dollars of tax payers money to promote and create an historic site which it named the "Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site." It appears that the Government of Newfoundland knew or ought reasonably to have known that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove. It also appears that the Government of Newfoundland knew or ought reasonably to have known prior to designating the purported site in Cupids as the "Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site" that there is NO mention of a place called the "Cupids Cove Plantation" anywhere in the entire historic record of Newfoundland! There are many questions regarding the Government promotion of Cupids that resulted in the expenditure of millions of tax payer dollars to promote the town of Cupids as the site of the first English settlement in Canada when historic documents, maps and the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon show that the purported history of Cupids is not supported by historic fact.

    • Marybeth
      September 18, 2012 - 17:25

      I think Don II and Phillip Bishop has a lot of time on their hands. Have they visited the site in Cupids? Have they seen the 17th century artifacts housed at the Legacy Centre?. Funny how people can ridicule without getting the true facts. these people who got nothing else to do with their time only misconstrue facts. All I asked of them is to google John Mason's map of Newfoundland. Case solved!!!!

  • Philip Bishop
    September 12, 2012 - 12:30

    While going to high school in Cupid's, 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 Cupid's 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 400 year 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, Cupid's, 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 Cupid's, came into use during the 1850's. Some maps from the 1600's show only Burnt Head and P. Grave in Bay de Grave. None shows a Salmon Cove or any of the names which have been used for Cupid's. These names appear on maps in the Avondale area. 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 Cupid's 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 1600's 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. William's 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". 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 Cupid's 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 1840's. Like Gilleon Cell's book, this creates a problem when trying to separate the work of John Guy from the history of Cupid's. 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 February 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 excellent 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. 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. .

  • Don II
    September 12, 2012 - 10:18

    This whimsical quasi-historical article written by Paul Sparkes appears to be a thinly veiled plea to Government to expend more tax payer dollars in Cupids. The article does contain a very appropriate disclaimer as follows: "I do not want imagination to create an incorrect picture." Creating an incorrect picture about the history of Cupids is exactly what writers who have written about the history of Cupids have succeeded in doing for many decades.The articles and books written about Cupids history have been very long on imagination, myth and folklore and very short on fact and proof. For example, in their letters and journals, the two main characters at the Cupers Cove Plantation, namely John Guy and Henry Crout, NEVER referred to CUPERS COVE as CUPIDS! John Guy and Henry Crout did not refer to the Cupers Cove plantation by the name of CUPIDS because they were not living in Cupids Cove in 1610! On October 6, 1610, John Guy wrote a letter to Sir Percival Willoughby in which he informed Willoughby that he had landed at a place called Cupperres Cove (Cupers Cove) which was a branch of or near to a place called Sammon Cove (Salmon Cove). If Daniel W. Prowse and Moses Harvey had access to numerous maps of Conception Bay, Newfoundland which were made by well known map makers such as William Hacke in 1677, Nicolaes Visscher in 1690, John Thornton in 1698 and Robert Laurie and James Whittle in 1794 which clearly show that Sammon Cove (Salmon Cove) was NOT situated anywhere near to Cupids Cove in the 1600's and 1700's they did not refer to the evidence contained in those maps which showed the area where Cupers Cove was actually located! If Prowse and Harvey had seen the many maps of Conception Bay from the 1600's and 1700's showing that Cupids Cove and Salmon Cove were NOT situated close to each other they should have concluded that the Salmon Cove to which John Guy referred in his letter of October 6, 1610 was clearly NOT situated near Cupids. John Guy could not have referred to the Salmon Cove situated near Cupids because that Salmon Cove did not exist in 1610 and is not shown on any known map of Conception Bay from the 1600's and 1700's! Prowse and Harvey knew or ought reasonably to have known that the location of Cupers Cove where John Guy actually landed was situated somewhere between the modern day town of Avondale which was formerly known as Salmon Cove and Conception Harbour/Holyrood. For some unexplained reason or agenda, this information was not published. The Royal Charter Grant of the Colony of Avalon which was formally issued by the King of England to George Calvert in 1623 shows that the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland extended to Conception Bay and included a place called Salmon Cove and that another boundary of the Colony of Avalon was the Sea Forest Plantation owned personally by John Guy. In 1610, John Guy wrote that Cupers Cove was located near to Salmon Cove. It appears that the Chief Archaeologist in Cupids has acknowledged that the Sea Forest Plantation was not located in Cupids. The historic documents and maps clearly show that the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon and the boundaries of the Sea Forest Plantation did not extend to Cupids. It appears that the Cupers Cove Plantation did indeed fail around 1621 and was eventually absorbed into the Colony of Avalon! A letter written by Edward Wynne to George Calvert on August 17, 1622 refers to: "....the large breed of cattle to our northern plantation...." In 1622, the only Plantation which existed north of Ferryland which could have been situated within the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon to explain Wynne's statement regarding "our northern plantation" could only have been the Cupers Cove Plantation formerly established by John Guy in 1610! The documents and maps show that the boundary of the Colony of Avalon in Conception Bay included Salmon Cove and the Sea Forest Plantation, neither of which was located anywhere near to Cupids. In his 1895 book, "A History of Newfoundland" D.W. Prowse reproduced Edward Wynne's letter of August 17, 1622 but apparently omitted to include the paragraph which contained Wynne's statement regarding "our northern plantation." It appears that Prowse had concluded, without any conclusive proof, that Cupids was the place where John Guy had made landfall in 1610. A closed mind is a regrettable thing. Maps and letters which existed that contained solid evidence contrary to Prowse's conclusion about Cupids were never referred to and were not published in his book. It appears that despite becoming the "Holy Grail" of Newfoundland history, Prowse was not infallible and his book omitted, misinterpreted or suppressed historical fact and evidence. Despite the existence of documented evidence, some people may be surprised to learn that the Colony of Avalon extended from Ferryland to include places near Avondale, Conception Harbour and Holyrood in Conception Bay. The long standing repetition of misinterpretation of fact and blatant bias directly led to the erroneous or misleading conclusions regarding the authentic location of Cupers Cove! The continuous repetition of untrue statements still does not make them true but make them believed. It appears that none of the writers ever undertook to disentangle the myths about Cupids from the facts and simply published the myths over and over until they became accepted as fact by a misinformed public. The repeated publication of historic fiction was portrayed as fact. Based on the documents and maps from the era, it is clear that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove! The Government of Newfoundland did not declare the purported site in Cupids to be the "Cupers Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site" but instead named it as the "Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site". Inexplicably, the Government of Newfoundland designated the "Cupids Cove Plantation "as a Provincial historic site despite the fact that NO place called the "Cupids Cove Plantation" is ever mentioned anywhere in the entire historic record of Newfoundland!