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Finding the Site

The story of John Guy’s voyage has been known for centuries. An abbreviated version of Guy’s journal, along with a number of other documents from the Cupids colony, was published by Samuel Purchas in his Hakluytus Posthumus in 1625. This was the only version known to most scholars for many years and it was this version that James P. Howley published in his The Beothucks or Red Indians in 1915. However, this version left out a number of important details. The complete journal was first published in 1957 by the Lambeth Palace Library but was not widely distributed. It was not until 1979, when it was published by D.B.Quinn in his New American World that it received wider distribution. Quinn also published Henry Crout's journal which contains, among many other things, a description of the voyage. Three years later, in 1982, Gillian T. Cell published the complete journal in her work Newfoundland Discovered along with a letter written by Crout on April 10, 1613 which also describes the voyage. Armed with this new information, it was finally possible to reconstruct the route followed by Guy’s party during their voyage into Trinity Bay. One of the first questions that needed to be addressed was where exactly was Mount Eagle Bay?

  A number of different harbours ranging from Heart’s Content all the way to Spread Eagle have been suggested over the years but when we combined the information provided by Guy with what Henry Crout has to say on the subject, it became obvious that Mount Eagle Bay is present day Hopeall. Crout tells us that Mount Eagle Bay was “some 8 leagues” (about 24 miles) from Heart’s Content and both Guy and Crout mention that there was “a fine little island which [has] excellent good ground and grasse upon it” at the entrance to the harbour. Crout also tells us that this was a bird island for there was ample evidence that “great store of birdes had haunted [it]”. The only place anywhere in this area that fits this description is Hopeall.

For many years scholars have also debated the exact location of Savage Harbour. While it was obviously somewhere in the bottom of Trinity Bay, a number of locations from Dildo Arm to Chapel Arm have been suggested. However, once again Henry Crout pointed us in the right direction. He tells us that at the entrance to the arm and to the north as they sailed in the arm were “3 fine islands” and that the distance from the islands to the bottom of the arm was “some 4 mylles”. No place in the bottom of Trinity Bay other than Dildo Arm fits this description. In his letters Crout makes reference to both a Savage Bay and a Savage Harbour and it appears that Savage Bay was Dildo Arm and Savage Harbour was South Dildo, a sheltered harbour at the bottom of Dildo Arm.

  Once we had established that Savage Harbour was South Dildo then there was only one possible candidate for Guy’s “great freshe water lake”. It had to be Dildo Pond, a 2.5 mile (4 km) long lake located roughly one mile south of and emptying into the bottom of Dildo Arm at South Dildo. Armed with this knowledge, in 1988 Ken Reynolds and I undertook a walking survey of Dildo Pond to see if we could find the camp described by Guy and Crout. After a number of days spent walking the sides of the lake and digging test pits in any place that wasn’t too boggy or rocky for people to spend a night, on May 24, 1988 we walked down behind Russell’s Service Station to a place known locally as Sandy Point and which we came to call Russell’s Point. Seven test pits were dug on the point that morning. The first two were close to the beach and produced only silt and sand but the other five were dug away from the beach on the north side of the point. All five produced charcoal, small fragments of cooked bone and flakes The seventh test pit also produced a small, stone Beothuk arrowhead.

Images (left to right, top to bottom) 1. A drawing of a Beothuk canoe from John Guy’s journal. The caption, in Guy’s hand, reads, “the picture of the savages canoa”. (Lambeth Palace Library, MS. 250, Folio 412 verso. Used with permission.)2. Hopeall (Mount Eagle Bay), September 1994. 3. South Dildo (Savage Harbour), Summer 1990. 4. Looking south towards Russell’s Point, May 1988. 5. The first test pits dug at Russell’s Point, May 24, 1988 (Photo by Ken Reynolds). 6. Left: The first Beothuk arrowhead found at Russell’s Point. Right: A triangular biface found eroding from the bank at the site a few weeks later (Photo by John Bourne).