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James Cook in North East America


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.

Related stamp issues:

Canada 10c Jly. 16 1908 shows Quebec in 1700
  12c 1940 shows St. Lawrence River at Quebec
  4c Jun. 21 1949 shows Halifax in 1764
Cameroun 100f Jly. 26 1978 shows capture of Quebec
Jersey 8d Jun. 9 1978 shows 1775 map of Gaspé from Cook surveys
Newfoundland 2c Sep. 1908 shows map of Newfoundland
  lc Jan. 3 1928 shows map of Newfoundland
St. Pierre & Miquelon 200f Aug. 5 1963 shows arrival of French Governor in 1763
  45f Oct. 25 1971 shows Cook chart of islands


Jack Lewis

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 158, volume 5, number 3 (1982).

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MBrown, Harrison's chronometer was not fully developed until the 1770s, and it was not until Captain Cook's second voyage (1772-1775) that he took a chronometer with him. It was not Harrison's original, but a copy made by Larcum Kendall for the Admiralty. So the short answer to your question is no, Cook did not use a chronometer to chart the St Lawrence river.
By Cliff Thornton on 1/5/2021 12:19:59 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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Did Captain Cook use the Harrison chronometer to chart the St. Lawrence river?
By mbrown@med.miami.edu on 1/4/2021 10:55:02 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Greg, the Captain Cook Society does not hold copies of Cook's logs, but our President, John Robson has researched those logs which recorded Cook's charting of Newfoundland. From what I recall the entries were very sparse compared with what he wrote on his voyage in Endeavour.
By Cliff Thornton on 11/14/2019 4:57:56 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Does your society have access to Capt. Cook's logs of his exploration and mapping of Newfoundland?
By Greg Wood on 11/14/2019 5:16:18 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Keith, I have some good news for you and some bad! The bad news is that the Log of the Grenville contains no reference to Cook observing the eclipse. The good news is that we know he did observe it as he submitted details of the eclipse to Dr J Bevis who read a paper to the Royal Society giving Cook's report. I will send you a scan of the report which was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Vol.LVII Pt.1 pp.215-216.
By Cliff Thornton on 11/4/2019 1:11:04 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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I am interested to know if James Cook observed a solar eclipse from the islands at Burgeo, Newfoundland during these surveys along the South Coast. I would like to read his log and observations of the south coast of Newfoundland. What villages existed at that time, if any. I would appreciate your help.
By Keith Hare on 11/3/2019 9:27:21 PM Like:1 DisLike:0

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