Sunnyside and the Isthmus of Avalon
The bottom of Trinity Bay has been inhabited for thousands of years. Long before the Europeans came other groups used the area for food and shelter. Fish, seals and small mammals were plentiful along the coast.
There is also a three-mile strip of land at the bottom of our harbour that connects east and west and can be used to travel from Trinity Bay to Placentia Bay. Caribou may have migrated through the area and that would have provided another food source for indigenous groups.
Cupids, the birthplace of English Canada, is not far from here. A colony was established there in 1610; one of the objectives of the colony was to set up a trading relationship with the indigenous people (Beothuk) that lived here. In the fall of 1612, Governor John Guy and 18 of his colonists set out on a "voyage of discovery" in search of the Beothuk. The voyage took about a month; they saw signs of Beothuk along the way but were unable to make contact. Finally, on November 6, 1612, in Sunnyside harbour the meeting took place. It was a joyous occasion. They danced, shared a meal and exchanged gifts. John Guy named the harbour Truce Sound in honour of this important meeting.
In 2010, a group of archaeologists found remnants of a "winter house" in Sunnyside harbour that has been dated around 1660-1680. This finding suggests that one or more settlers stayed here for at least one winter. The date makes it one of the earliest winter houses in North America.
Sunnyside harbour was used extensively by the French during the Winter War of 1696-97. The French attacked St. John's and other settlements on the Avalon Peninsula by land. After these attacks they crossed to Sunnyside by boat and took the route across the Isthmus to their base in Placentia. Later the same year, they used our harbour as a staging platform to attack communities on the north side of Trinity Bay. French troops and English prisoners inhabited our harbour for about two months in early 1697.
Another significant event in our history was the landing of the first transatlantic cable in 1858. This was considered the greatest engineering feat of the 19th century and can be compared with the moon landing in terms of importance. A cable office was built here in preparation for intercontinental communications. The first communications between the two continents occurred on August 16, 1858, when Queen Victoria and President James Buchanan exchanged messages. Although the cable only worked for a few short weeks, that was enough to prove the concept, learn from mistakes and lay a more successful cable across the bay in Heart's Content.
More to come ...