English Settlers

Sketch of John Guy. (Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (MF 231- 4.07), St. John's, Newfoundland. Used with permission.)
Sketch of John Guy. (Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (MF 231- 4.07), St. John's, Newfoundland. Used with permission.)

In August 1610, John Guy and a group of 39 English settlers landed at Cupers Cove (which is today called Cupids) in Newfoundland and Labrador. They started the first official English colony in what is today the country of Canada and one of the first European settlements in North America.

They cleared the land and began constructing buildings and boats as soon as they arrived. In addition to fishing, logging, farming and exploring for minerals, one of the goals of the colonists was to initiate friendly relations with the Beothuk to establish a fur trade. The colonists cut a trail overland from Conception Bay to Trinity Bay (Crout's Way.) They also used two of their newly built boats, a 12 tonne bark (which they called the Indeavour) and a shallop to sail around the Bay de Verde Peninsula into Trinity Bay to meet the Beothuk. During the trip they saw Beothuk homes and canoes and actually met, shared a meal, and traded with a group of Beothuk people. On the way back the men in both boats had amazing adventures which demonstrate the dangers they faced in traveling what today seems like short distances.

During the third season, John Guy brought women to the colony. On March 27th, 1613, the birth of a baby boy to Nicholas Guy and his wife was the first recorded birth of an English child in what is now Canada! Gradually, the settlers' lives fell into a pattern of yearly activities. The activities of these hardy people were governed by the seasons. Pirates and migratory fishermen also had an effect on what they could do.

John Mason (who later founded the colony of New Hampshire) became governor of the colony in 1615. During his tenure, Squanto, (an English speaking Patuxet Native American from Massachusetts) was sent to the colony by John Slany, one of the colony's backers in England. Squanto later achieved fame because he assisted the Pilgrim Fathers to establish the Plymouth colony in New England starting in 1620.

Throughout the 1600s and the early 1700s the colonists established other settlements around the Baccalieu Trail. Pirate raids, clashes with migratory fishermen, attacks by the French, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries provided constant challenges.