Cupids was the site of the first English settlement in Canada, established by the LONDON AND BRISTOL COMPANY in August 1610. The first governor of the colony was Bristol merchant John GUY and, under the terms of the company's charter, it was effectively the seat of the first government in Newfoundland. There are many other firsts associated with Cupids including the first SAWMILL and brewery in Canada (both built by 1613). On 27 March 1613 the first English child in what is now Canada was born in Cupids to Nicholas Guy and his wife (names of wife and son are unknown).
Most of the investors had lost interest in the colony by the early 1620s but Cupids was still an active settlement in 1624. Settlement also spread from Cupids to other parts of Conception Bay. By 1618 some of the Bristol men had moved from Cupids to HARBOUR GRACE and by 1631 Nicholas Guy had moved with his family to CARBONEAR. Whether the late 17th-century occupation was year round or seasonal is difficult to determine but a list compiled in 1698 records one settler living in Cupids.
Settlement at Cupids expanded greatly in the 18th century especially after 1755 when the firm of Newman and Company, based out of Dartmouth, England, established premises there. Two major shipbuilding operations were established there in the late 1700s providing additional employment and attracting more people. However, most residents were employed in the fishery, and SEALING was also important. Beginning in the 1820s, the seasonal Labrador fishery became an important part of the local economy.
Some archaeological work was conducted in Cupids in the early 1970s but no physical evidence of the original colony was found at that time. Survey work conducted in 1995 resulted in its discovery and excavations since then have uncovered the remains of 4 early 17th-century buildings, numerous related features, sections of the enclosure erected around the settlement and more than 135 000 artifacts. The town of Cupids takes great pride in its past. Plans are underway to have the site declared a provincial HISTORIC SITE and a new, state-of-the-art interpretation centre will tell the story of Canada's first English settlement.
Since its discovery, the archaeological site has become a significant tourist attraction and tourism has become an important sector of Cupid's economy. A number of residents are employed in both the crab fishery and at the local Quin-Sea Fisheries processing plant. Many others commute to ST JOHN'S.
Author WILLIAM GILBERT
Links to Other Sites
Canada's First English Settlement
A Canadian Encyclopedia feature article about 17th century British explorer John Guy, who established the first English settlement in Canada at Cupers Cove (Cupids), Newfoundland.
Baccalieu Trail Archeology
Explore the history and heritage of the Baccalieu Trail Region, a collection of coastal communities along Conception Bay and the south side of Trinity Bay on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. Scroll down to "Henry Crout's Journal" for historical entries (note: Henry Crout was Sir Percival Willoughby's first agent in Newfoundland).
Baccalieu: Crossroads For Cultures
This site is devoted to the colourful history of the Baccalieu Trail region of Newfoundland and Labrador. Focuses on the Beothuk people, early European settlements, and the pirates who plundered local communities. Check out the glossary, online timeline, historic documents, maps, learning activities and much more.
A biography of John Guy, colonizer, explorer, and governor of the first English colony in Newfoundland. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
Cupids Legacy Centre
The website for the Cupids Legacy Centre, built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first English settlement in Canada in Cupids. Click on the links to learn more about the museum and the nearby Cupids Cove plantation dig site.
An information page for the Cupids Museum, a multi-faceted museum which displays historical items representing the life and times of rural Newfoundland fishing and farming communities. From the website for the Museum Association of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Archeologist reclaims slice of Canadian history through engraving
A CBC News story about A 17th-century engraving that may depict early contact between English businessmen John Guy and Beothuk inhabitants of Newfoundland.
Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce
The website for the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce (APCC), formerly the Maritime Board of Trade. Formed in 1896, this organization promotes and supports business and economic development in Atlantic Canada. Click on "Chambers" for links to local Chambers of Commerce.
Biography of John Guy worth the wait, say editors
A news story about a biography of the famous Bristol explorer, John Guy that chronicles his connection to Cupids, Newfoundland.