Truce Sound, 1612
The first official English settlement in Canada was established at Cupids, Conception Bay, in 1610 by Governor John Guy and 39 colonists. The colony was sponsored by the Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers. Among other things, they expected Guy to do was establish friendly relations with the Beothuk—the indigenous people that already lived on the island.
In the fall of 1612, Guy and 18 of his men set sail for Trinity Bay hoping to make contact with the Beothuk. They spotted houses (mamateeks) along the way and caught sight of two Beothuk in a canoe near Dildo but were unable to make contact with them. After reaching the bottom of Trinity Bay, they sailed west and eventually reached Bay Bull’s Arm. At Stock Cove, they saw more mamateeks but no people.
On November 5, they arrived at the end of Bay Bull’s Arm, where Sunnyside is today and found a well-worn trail leading over a land bridge to Placentia Bay. They followed the trail to Passage Harbour, now called Come By Chance, returning to Sunnyside harbour around noon on November 6. Shortly after noon, they spotted a campfire in the distance and two canoes coming towards them. The colonists took to their ship, waving a white flag, and sailed out to meet the canoes. This caused the Beothuk to turn away, so Guy quickly anchored and waved the white flag again. The Beothuk turned their canoes around again and met with the Englishmen on shore, where they shared a meal and exchanged gifts.
John Guy called the harbour “Truce Sound” in honour of this friendly meeting. The colonists started to build a shelter for future visits “on a small island of about five acres that was joined to the main by a small beach.” This was Frenchman’s Island, the only island in Sunnyside harbour. But by now 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 colonists died. The Bristol merchants started to pull out of the venture. In the summer of 1613, John Guy resigned as governor and went back to England never to return.
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.