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Finding the Site


From John Guy’s Journal, October 26, 1612

“...I sent some to follow the said way to see how farre yt went, & wheather they could see any savages. Who within one houre returning, declared that they saw a great freshe water lake, wheather the said way did lead them, & two fires, one vpon ane Island in the said lake & ane other vpon the said lake. Whearevpon Iohn Guy, with fourteene more went to the said lake, wheare they had sight of the said fires, & a canoa with two rowing in her in the said lake and soe goeing through the woods ... at twilighte ... they came ... to the said place, wheare they fownd noe savages, but three of theire housen [i.e. houses], whearof two had bin latelie vsed, in one of the which the hearth was hot. The savages weare gone to the said Iland, wheather we could not goe for want of a boate. We fownd there a cooper kettle kepte very brighte, a furre gowne, some seale skinnes, ane old sail, & a fishing reele.

“John Guy’s Journal of a Voyage into Trinity Bay”. MS 250, Lambeth Palace Library.


While English colonists were busy breaking ground for a new home on the shores of Conception Bay, in Trinity Bay, eighteen miles to the west, the Beothuk Indians were pursuing a way of life that had gone on virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. On October 7, 1612 John Guy and eighteen other colonists set sail from Cupers Cove (now Cupids) in Conception Bay on a voyage into Trinity Bay in an attempt to meet and establish friendly relations with the Beothuk. They sailed in two vessels. The Indeavour, a bark of twelve tons built in Cupers Cove during the winter of 1610-1611, carried John Guy, Henry Crout and twelve others. She was accompanied by a shallop of perhaps five tons containing another five men.

On the morning of October 22, 1612 the Indeavour entered a place which the colonists called Mount Eagle Bay. Later that day she was joined by the crew of the shallop who had been separated from the bark and had spent the previous three days in Heart’s Content. Two days later, on October 24, the two vessels left Mount Eagle Bay and rowed into what Guy called the “South bottome of Trinitie bay”. Here, in a place they called Savage Harbour, they found several Indian houses, a number of tools and other utensils, and “a broad way” that led from the seaside into the woods.

On October 26 Guy’s party followed this “way” and found that it led to what he called a “great freshe water lake” on the bank of which was another Beothuk camp. The Beothuks had left the camp and gone to an island in the lake “whether”, Guy says, “we could not goe for want of a boate”. However, both Guy and Crout wrote detailed descriptions of the camp. What follows is the story of how this camp visited by John Guy and Henry Crout almost 400 years ago was discovered and how the excavations conducted at the site of this camp have enriched our understanding of the Beothuk in Trinity Bay.

  Images (left to right, top to bottom) 1. Sailing into the bottom of Trinity Bay, September 1994. 2. Early seventeenth-century two masted bark. (William Gilbert after William Baker, 1962). 3. Heart’s Content, Autumn 1998. 4. John Cartwright’s drawing of a Beothuk house on the Exploit’s River, 1768 (National Archives of Canada, NMC 27).