On this day, Governor John Guy of Cupids met with a group of Beothuk in the south end of Trinity Bay. The groups danced together, laughed, exchanged gifts and shared a meal. Governor Guy called the area Truce Sound in honour of this joyous meeting. In 2012, Sunnyside celebrated the 400th anniversary of this event and erected a memorial to the ancient peoples that once lived on our shores. We also restored the name Truce Sound to our harbour.
Truce Sound in 2012
The first official English settlement in Canada was established at Cupids (Cuper’s Cove), Conception Bay, in 1610 by Governor John Guy and 39 colonists. One of the objectives for the colony was to establish friendly relations with the Beothuk that would lead to a profitable fur trade.
By the fall of 1612 Guy had not made contact with the Beothuk, so he and 18 of his men set sail for Trinity Bay hoping to find them. They spotted “savage housen” along the way and caught sight of two Beothuk in a canoe near what is now Dildo but were unable to make contact with them.
At the bottom of Bull Arm, in Sunnyside Harbour, they found a well-worn trail leading across the isthmus. They followed the trail to Placentia Bay and climbed Powder Horn hill. They returned to the bottom of Sunnyside harbour around noon the following day. Shortly after, they spotted a campfire in the distance and two canoes coming towards them. Guy and his men took to their bark (ship), waving a white flag, and went to meet them. This caused the Beothuk to turn around, so Guy quickly anchored and waved the white flag again. The Beothuk responded in kind and the two groups met on the nearby shore. The Beothuk crossed a small stream to reach the Englishmen.
The next day was spent exploring and beginning a shelter for future visits “on a small island of about five acres that was joined to the main by a small beach. For any bartering with the savages there can be no fitter place.” This, of course, was Frenchman’s Island, the only island in the harbour. It was now November 7th and ice was beginning to form so Guy and his party decided to return to Cupids.
The winter of 1612-13 was unusually severe and eight of the colonists at Cupids died. The Bristol merchants had not received a return on their investment and started pulling out of the venture. In the summer of 1613, John Guy resigned as governor and went back to England.
The friendly relations between English and Beothuk that started in Truce Sound in the fall of 1612 did not continue. Future meetings were not as friendly.
The above illustration is interesting. It is not meant to be a single picture. It tells the story of John Guy’s meeting with the Beothuk. There was only one ship (the Indeavour) present. The illustration shows the ship at three points in the journey. The canoes are shown paddling towards shore and arriving to meet the Englishmen. The illustration was drawn from Guy’s account of the meeting and shows the trade goods that were exchanged.
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