James Cook in Newfoundland, 1762-1767. Whiteley, William H. 1975

James Cook in Newfoundland, 1762-1767. Whiteley, William H. 1975

Whiteley, William H.
James Cook in Newfoundland, 1762 - 1767.
Newfoundland Historical Society.

James Cook first came to Newfoundland in the summer of 1762, at the age of 34. The next six years of his life were given to the survey of Newfoundland waters, a period during which he married and began to raise a family.

This period is sketchily documented, after all he did not know he was going to become famous later on.
But there is a book, or rather a pamphlet, that deals exclusively with this period:

When Cook left Newfoundland in the autumn of 1767, he had compiled a series of coastal charts unparalleled for nautical detail and fisheries information. All of his charts contain detailed soundings, with locations of rocks, reefs and safe anchorages. They are large enough in scale to be of practical assistance to vessels navigating inshore waters. The observations that accompany each chart give sailing directions, with comments on tides, currents, winds and compass variations. Appropriate notes are added on watering places, timber stands and fishing places which would be useful to fishing adventurers.

In August, 1764, when Cook was surveying in a cutter near Cape Norman. a large powder horn exploded in his right hand. As a result, Cook bore a scar till his death. The next time he was in London he brought out a box of medicines at his own expense.
Cook experimented with the brewing of "spruce beer" in various harbours, compunded from treacle and the tender green tips of the spruce tree. The experiments were put to good use in the Pacific.

These activities are described in this marvellous booklet in more detail than anywhere else. And it helps you decide which stamps of Canada, Newfoundland and St. Pierre & Miquelon could be used to describe this important period in Cook’s life.

Ian Boreham

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 347, volume 4, number 4 (1981).

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