Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
May 5, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
XV THE ENGLISH AT CAPE BRETON IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
The following extracts from Hakluyts Voyages tell of two visits of English navigators to the shores of Cape Breton there [sic] hundred years ago.
There were, of course, many such adventurers who left no record of their voyages; some of whom, even before the dates mentioned below, sailing down the coast of the peninsula, may have explored the Bay of Fundy and visited the islands which now form part of Charlotte county.1
The earliest record known of either French or English explorers in the waters of Passamaquoddy bay is that of the coming of Champlain in 1604; but the fact that mariners of both nations had made frequent voyages to Cape Breton, from the wandering habits of the aborigines and the friendly intercourse between their tribes, must have been already well known to the natives of Passamaquoddy; and the accounts of their own dealings with the natives which some of the English visitors have left would lead us to suppose that when once the Indians had learned to distinguish between the English and the French their distinction would not be one in favor of the English.
Richard Fishers Voyage.
The ship Marigold, of 70 tons, with a crew of twenty men, whereof ten were mariners, left Falmouth on the 1st of June, 1593. After telling of their reaching Cape Breton, Richard Fisher, the master, says:-
Here divers of our men went on land, upon the very cape, where, at their arrival, they found the spits of oak of the savages which had roasted meat a little before. And as they viewed the country they saw divers beasts and fowls, as black foxes, deer, otters, great fowls with red legs, penguin and certain others. But, having found no people here, at this our first landing, we went again on ship board, and sailed farther four leagues to the west of Cape Breton, where we saw many seals.
And here, having need of fresh water, we went again on shore. And passing somewhat more into the land, we found certain round ponds, artificially made by the savages to keep fish in, with certain wears in them, made to take fish. To these ponds we repaired to fill our casks with water. We had not been long here when out there came one savage with black, long hair hanging about his shoulders, who called unto us, waving his hands downwards towards his belly, using these words, Calitogh, Calitogh.
As we drew towards him one of our mens muskets unawares shot off, whereupon he fell down; and, rising up suddenly, he cried thrice, with a loud voice, Chiogh, Chiogh, Chiogh.
Thereupon, nine or ten of his fellows, running right up over the bushes with great agility and swiftness, came towards us with white staves in their hands, like half pikes, and their dogs, of color black, not so big as a gray hound, followed them at their heels; but we retired unto our boats without any hurt at all received.
Howbeit one of them broke our hogshead which we had filled with fresh water, with a great branch of a tree which lay on the ground; upon which occasion we bestowed half a dozen musket shots upon them, which they avoided by falling flat to the earth, and afterwards retired themselves to the woods.
One of the savages, which seemed to be their captain, wore a long mantle of beasts skins hanging on one of his shoulders. The rest were all naked, except their middles, which were covered with a skin tied behind. After they escaped our shot they made a great fire on the shore, belike to give their fellows warning of us.
Charles Leighs Voyage.
The Hopewell, 120 tons, and the Chance Well, 70 tons, left Gravesend, on the 8th of April, 1597. Charles Leigh, one of the owners, who was on board, says:-
The 14th of June we sent our boat on shore, in a great bay upon the isle of Cape Breton, for water.
The 25th, we arrived on the west side of the Isle of Menego, where we left some casks on shore in a sandy bay, but could not tarry for foul weather.
The 26th, we cast anchor in another bay, upon the main Cape Breton.
The 27th, about 10 of the clock in the morning, we met with eight men of the Chance Well, our consort, in a shallop, who told us that their ship was cast away upon the main of Cape Breton, within a great bay, eighteen leagues within the cape and upon a rock within a mile of the shore, upon the 23rd of this month, about 1 of the clock in the afternoon. And that they had cleared the ship from the rock, but, being bulged and full of water, they presently did run her up into a sandy bay, where she was no sooner come on ground, but presently after there came aboard many shallops with stores of Frenchmen, who broke and spoiled all they could lay hands on.
The 29th, betimes in the morning, we departed from that road toward a great Biscayan, some seven leagues off, of 300 tons, whose men dealt most doggedly with the Chance Wells company.
The same night we anchored at the mouth of the harbor where the Biscayan was.
The 30th, betimes in the morning, we put into the harbor, and approaching near their stage, we saw it uncovered, and so suspected the ship to be gone. Whereupon we set our pinnace on shore with a dozen men, who, when they came, found great store of fish on shore, but all the men were fled; neither could they perceive whither the ship should be gone, but, as they thought, to sea.
This day about 12 of the clock, we took a savages boat which our men pursued, but all the savages ran away into the wood, and our men brought their boat on board.
The same day, in the afternoon, we brought our ship to an anchor in the harbor; and on the same day we took three and one half hogsheads of traine, and some 300 of green fish. Also, in the evening, three of the savages, whose boat we had, came unto us for their boat; to whom we gave coats and knives, and restored them their boats again.
The next day, being the first of July, the rest of the savages came unto us; among whom was their king, whose name was Itarey, and their queen, to whom also we gave coats and knives and other trifles.
These savages call the harbor Cibo, [Sainte Annes harbor.] In this place are the greatest multitude of lobsters we ever heard of.
1In conversation, many years since, with the late
William Harvey, of Saint Andrews, who was apprenticed to a ship
builder at Campobello prior to the American revolution, the
indentures of which apprenticeship I saw at the time of the
interview, I was informed by him that Charles Morris,
surveyor-general of Nova Scotia, or acting as such, came to
Campobello, about or at the end of the American revolution.
At that time the ribs of a vessel were discernable at Harbor de
Lute, in that island. Morris, who was anxious to find out
all that he could concerning this matter, caused the Indians to
be summoned to a council; to which they came all adorned with
plumes, after the Indian fashion. Strict inquiry having
been made of them to find out to whom this vessel had belonged,
they replied that neither did they nor their fathers know how or
when the vessel was lost there.-Edward Jack.