Cook's quest for knowledge and scientific advancement was forged during his early exploits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and further refined in his many years spent surveying and charting the coastlines of the island of Newfoundland on Canada's east coast. His charts were so accurate they were still in use well into the 20th century. It was here that he honed his skills and developed his astoundingly accurate surveying methods that ultimately led to his command of future explorations in the South Pacific.
Given the increased interest in Cook's work in our region, the re-development1 of the Captain James Cook Historic Site in Corner Brook is very timely and will serve to increase international awareness of his exploits in this region.
The site was originally developed by Parks Canada as a National Historic Plaque site and still carries this designation and the associated prominence of a Parks Canada site.2
In keeping with Cook's penchant for the "high ground", the site is on a prominent headland that overlooks both the city of Corner Brook and the adjacent Bay of Islands where Cook developed his craft. The site has amazing viewscapes.
The recent re-development includes major site improvements to add to the visitor's enjoyment. The area has been completely redesigned with new road access, parking areas, walkways, and site lighting. There is also better access to the views from the dramatic elevations of the site. A series of short walking trails lead visitors to interpretive panels, a landscaped stage area, and additional scenic views.
While the natural surroundings are spectacular, people will be drawn to the site to increase their knowledge and understanding of Cook and his achievements. The interpretive pieces give visitors an insight into his career and achievements.
The two bronze plaques placed at the site originally have been refurbished and reinstated along with five new interpretive panels which chronologically detail Cook's arrival in the new world to his eventual departure for the south Pacific in 1768.
These pieces are displayed in a circular landscaped viewing space where the panels compete with the beautiful scenery for the visitor's attention.
The site was designed around a sculpture in bronze by renowned artist Luben Boykov.3 The slightly larger than life statue depicts Cook at the appropriate age while in Newfoundland in the act of gazing into the heavens through a quadrant that guided him so accurately through his voyages. The piece has been sculpted in clay and the molds have been taken to cast the piece in bronze at a later date. Unfortunately, fundraising issues on the project have delayed its completion and subsequent installation. When complete it will serve as an iconic image that will captivate visitors well into the future.
Cook's influence is clearly seen in the naming of bays and islands in the region. Corner Brook is situated in the Bay of Islands with many of the islands sharing nomenclature with other regions Cook surveyed and explored throughout the world. The tourism industry is showing increased interested in Cook's exploits and the potential for marketing the area accordingly.
The newly developed site provides insight and background information on the life and times of Captain James Cook and provides an interesting starting point to follow in his footsteps and continue exploration of this beautiful area.
An official opening of the site is planned for the summer of 2010 with visitors and invited guests participating in a celebration of both the site opening and Cook's remarkable achievements. Comments or inquiries on the site should be sent to the Corner Brook Stream Development Corporation, (email email@example.com).
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 18, volume 32, number 4 (2009).
your email address will not be published