On his 29th birthday, October 27, 1757, Cook joined the Pembroke, a 64 gun ship, as master. In February, 1758 they sailed for Canada. The Seven Years War between Britain and France was going badly for the British on the North American continent, so it was planned to attack the French at Louisburg and Quebec which was the centre of their military power.
Louisburg surrendered in August 1756. While Cook was ashore here, he became acquainted with a military engineer and surveyor Samuel Holland, who was making a plan of the encampment using a plane table. Holland gave Cook instructions in the use of this survey equipment.
While at Louisburg, Cook did a survey of Gaspé Bay and harbour which resulted in his first engraved and printed chart. In November the Pembroke moored in Halifax, and Cook spent the winter compiling charts of the St. Lawrence River.
In May 1759, Cook and the masters of two other vessels had to re-chart and re-buoy the St. Lawrence River approaches to Quebec. It took several weeks as they were working under the range of French guns. They had to work frequently at night, and often replace buoys that the French had cut away in the darkness. By June the job was done and the British Armada of over 200 ships safely made the passage through the Traverse.
Cook was now referred to as "Master Surveyor". After the siege and capture of Quebec (Cook took no part in this) Cook was transferred to the Northumberland, flagship of the commander-in-chief, Lord Colville. The ship spent the winter in Halifax. Cook studied mathematics and Astronomy during this time.
For the next two years Cook charted the St. Lawrence and the coast of Novia Scotia. His charts appeared in the "North American Pilot" in 1775 and were to remain the standard works of navigational reference for those waters for over a century.
On August 10, 1762, the Northumberland sailed from Halifax to Placentia, Newfoundland. On September 18, the French Commander at St. Johns surrendered. Cook made a chart of Harbour Grace and the Bay of Carbonera. On October 7, 1762 Northumberland sailed for England, arriving there in November. On December 21, Cook married Elizabeth Batts.
In April 1763, Cook was appointed to go to Newfoundland to survey the coast and harbours of the island. First he was to survey St. Pierre and Miquelon before these islands were to be surrendered to the French. Cook arrived at St. Pierre on June 13. The islands were to have been handed over to the French on June 10. By July 4, Cook finished the survey of St. Pierre and the French Governor was allowed to land. By July 31 the surveys of Miquelon and Langley were finished and these islands were turned over to the French. Cook spent the rest of the summer surveying along the Newfoundland coast. He returned to England in November.
In May 1764 Cook returned to Newfoundland, and on June 14 became Master of the Grenville. On July 4 he started the season's survey of Newfoundland, returning to St. John's on October 14. In November he returned to England and had the Grenville refitted.
On April 28, 1765 he again sailed for Newfoundland, and started his surveys on June 2. He spent the next months continuing his surveys and charting of Newfoundland. He arrived back in England on December, 17.
In February 1766, Cook was given permission by the Admiralty to have his charts of Newfoundland, including the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, published
On May 29, 1766 Cook was back at Newfoundland to continue his survey of Newfoundland. Returning to England on November 30, he arranged to publish a third chart of the South Coast of Newfoundland, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Southern Entrance of Gulf of St. Lawrence.
On May 15, 1767 Cook was back at Newfoundland to complete his survey of the west coast of Newfoundland. He arrived back in England on November 15 and had his fourth chart published - "A chart of the West Coast of Newfoundland".
This was the last of Cook's visits to the East side of North America.
Compiled from "The Life of Captain James Cook" by J.C. Beaglehole.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 158, volume 5, number 3 (1982).
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