Journey of the Indeavour


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In the Fall of 1612, the colonists set sail to explore Trinity Bay to try to make contact with the Beothuk people and begin a profitable fur trade with them. Beaver furs were worth a lot of money in Europe and the settlers wanted to trade with the Beothuk for these furs. They used two boats they had constructed at the Cupers Cove colony. The larger of the two boats, the Indeavour, was a 12 ton vessel. The smaller was a 5 ton shallop. We know a lot about this voyage because John Guy and Henry Crout describe it in their diaries. Henry also talked about the trip in a letter he wrote back to England.

Setting Sail...

Sketch of the Indeavor. (Image by William Gilbert. Used with permission from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation.)
Sketch of the Indeavor. (Image by William Gilbert. Used with permission from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation.)

On October 7th 1612, the two boats left Cupers Cove around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The Indeavour carried John Guy, Henry Crout, and 12 other men. The shallop carried another five men on board, for a total of 19 men.

At 11 o'clock that night, John, and the other men arrived at Harbour Grace and anchored their boats close to the pirates' fort that Peter Easton had built. There they found a 120 ton French ship full of salt. In those days, salt was very important for preserving fish and meat and the settlers spent the next nine days storing the salt in a safe, dry place.

Two Boats...Separated...

Sketch of a Shallop. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures. Image by David Fry, ©2005.)
Sketch of a Shallop. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures. Image by David Fry, ©2005.)

On October 17th, at about 7 o'clock in the morning, John and his men sailed out of Harbour Grace and just about sunset they arrived in Bay de Verde. John must have been in a hurry. About 2 o'clock the next morning they left Bay de Verde to try and sail around Grates Point and into Trinity Bay. The winds were very strong and they spent the whole day trying to get around the point. After a while, the shallop made it around but the Indeavour had to turn back to Bay de Verde. John's men set out again the next morning but the wind changed around and they were blown north to Catalina, where they had to wait two days for the weather to change. On October 21st, the wind started to blow from the north and they set their sails and headed south towards the bottom of Trinity Bay. They sailed all night and the next afternoon they entered a harbour which they called Mount Eagle Bay, but which we now call Hopeall. (In his diary John Guy says that this was the place where the trail cut by the colonists from Conception Bay ended. That trail is known as Crout's Way.) Later that day, they were joined by the crew of the shallop who had spent the last three days in Heart's Content.

John's men spent the next day exploring Mount Eagle Bay.

Signs of the Beothuk

Route of the Indeavor. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures by Baccalieu Consulting, ©2005)
Route of the Indeavor. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures by Baccalieu Consulting, ©2005)

On the morning of October 24th, both boats left Mount Eagle Bay to sail yet again. Later that afternoon, they arrived at what is known today as Dildo Arm, where they dropped anchor to rest again for the night. The next day was spent exploring what John called Savage Harbour. It was here that the men saw their first evidence of Beothuk settlement. Dwellings were found along with many items used by the Beothuk. These items included a shield, at least one spear, an arrow, and some birch bark containers. A path through the woods that was cut and used by the Beothuk people was also found.

On the morning of October 26th, John and his men decided to leave and sail farther north but there was a strong wind blowing from the west and they had to go back to Savage Harbour. When they returned John sent some of his men to follow the Beothuk trail. They came back in about an hour and told John that they had seen a ‘great fresh water lake' and two fires. One fire was on the side of the lake and the other was on an island in the lake. We now know that the lake they saw was Dildo Pond where Blaketown is today

John knew that the fires must have been lit by the Beothuk. He left some of his men to guard the boats and the rest went with him to the lake. The fires were still burning and John and his men saw two Beothuk in a canoe paddling towards the island. They waited about two hours for it to get dark and then walked along the side of the lake to where one of the fires was burning.

When they got there they found a Beothuk camp. There were three Beothuk houses. Two were covered in caribou hides and one in an old sail. John and Henry also described seeing a number of things that belonged to the Beothuk. The Beothuk had been using a copper kettle and a fishing reel which they must have gotten from European fishermen. There was also a fur gown and some seal skins.

On October 30 the settlers left Savage Harbour and sailed north towards Bull Arm. Along the way they saw a number of other Beothuk camps although nobody was living in them at the time. They reached the bottom of Bull Arm, where the town of Sunnyside is today, on November 4 and found a number of Beothuk houses and a Beothuk canoe hauled up on the beach.

Finally, after more exploration of the region, on November 6th, the colonists met and shared a meal with a group of Beothuk somewhere in Bull Arm.

Return Trip...Shipwrecked!

Return Trip of the Indeavor. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures by Baccalieu Consulting, ©2005)
Return Trip of the Indeavor. (Prepared for Baccalieu: Crossroads for Cultures by Baccalieu Consulting, ©2005)

After a successful meeting with the Beothuk, John Guy and his men began their return trip to Cupers Cove. This would prove to be quite an adventure as well. On November 10th, they arrived in Heart's Content where they stayed for the next few days because of high winds and snow. On November 13th, they set sail again. The shallop was towing one of the Beothuk canoes and had to go ashore at Old Perlican because the seas were too rough. The Indeavour sailed on to Bay de Verde and arrived there about 2 o'clock in the morning.

The crew of the shallop had to leave the canoe in Old Perlican. They arrived in Bay de Verde the next day but their boat was swamped and sunk while trying to find one of the Indeavour's anchors. The crew all got ashore but John's men could not reach them because a strong wind rose up from the south. The Indeavour had to move offshore to avoid the rocks and ended up drifting all night. The crew of the Indeavour thought they were drifting further into Trinity Bay, but instead had drifted to the other side of the peninsula towards Renews.

For the next ten days, the men from the shallop walked from Bay de Verde to Carbonear. According to a letter written by one of the men, Bartholomew Pearson, the lives of the explorers were in great danger as they were faced with “great famine and much hunger”. He also stated that they were “like to be starved”. Upon arrival at Carbonear, the men found some “rotten, stinking fish” and “moulix made of mussels” . Certainly, this was not the tastiest meal they had ever had, but it would keep them alive long enough to return home. At Carbonear, the men were also lucky enough to find an abandoned boat in which they were able to sail back to the colony at Cupers Cove.

At the same time the men on the Indeavour were having an extremely difficult journey. With the help of the wind, the Indeavour was also able to head back towards home, but a strong wind came up and they were blown towards Bay de Verde and they had to spend another night there. The following day they attempted to get home, but had to wait off the south side of Belle Island. When they attempted to leave, the wind started to blow them away from home again. Finally, the wind turned around and they were able to sail home. John and his men arrived safely back in Cupers Cove at about 10 o'clock in the morning on November 25th, after being gone for 50 days. When they got there, they found the crew of the shallop had arrived before them.

An Eventful Journey

Shore Line where Crew Members Walked in November 1612.  Job's Cove. (© Small Craft Harbours, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Used with permission.)
Shore Line where Crew Members Walked in November 1612. Job's Cove. (© Small Craft Harbours, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Used with permission.)

Because of bad weather, separation, and a shipwreck, the journey to Trinity Bay to meet with the Beothuk had been very difficult for John Guy and his men. It was however, successful, since the colonists had made contact with the Beothuk.