During early August 2006 I was fortunate to be taken with four members of my family in an open fishing boat along the southern coast of Labrador from Red Bay to Chateau Bay, a bay well known before Cook but excellently charted by him in the autumn of 1763.
Chateau Bay, or York Harbour as it was known to the English, had been recognized during the Seven Years War as a natural base for an English fishery on the Labrador coast. Governor James Webb had in 1760 pursued some French ships off the northern coasts of Newfoundland and reported the discovery of "one of the best harbours in the world, of which I took possession for His Majesty, naming it York Harbour. From this harbour no ship can pass in or out of the straits of Belle Isle but what may be seen." The name "York Harbour" was applied to the whole of Chateau Bay, within which were several arms: Temple Bay, Pitts Harbour, Grenville Harbour, Henley Harbour, and Antelope Harbour. In 1762, Captain Nicholas Darby, who later became a prominent figure in the Labrador fishery, testified that the "Baye de Chateau is one of the finest harbours in the world," and he recommended the building of a fort there.
Cook was also very enthusiastic about the opportunities Chateau Bay offered, "Fishermen would certainly find their account in settling this place as cod and seals are here in great plenty, and Temple Bay and Pitts Harbour will afford timber for building, such as fir, spruce, juniper, and birch. Henley Harbour seems to be the most convenient place for curing of fish and Seal Islands for catching of seals, where there appears to have been a considerable seal fishery."