The 400th Anniversary of Cupids, NL – the Oldest English Colony in Canada

14 August 2008

On August 14, 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Government of Canada would provide $3 million in funding to help the town of Cupids, NL celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding.  Today, Cupids is widely recognized as the oldest English colony in Canada.
About Cupids 
By the early years of the 17th century there was increased interest in establishing permanent settlements on the Newfoundland coast.  In 1610, a group of colonists left Bristol, England under a Royal Charter to establish a secure community that could “make safe the trade of fishing.”  The colonists were led by an experienced merchant named John Guy. 

Thirty-nine people spent the first winter in Cupids. By the fall of 1612 the population had increased to 62. By the spring of 1613 at least 16 structures had been erected there, including three dwelling houses, a storehouse, a fort, sawmill, grist mill and a brewhouse. On March 27, 1613, the first English child in what is now Canada was born at Cupids to Nicholas Guy and his wife.
Although Cupids remained a small colony, it established the seeds of permanent English settlement in what would become Canada.  Colonists moved from Cupids and settled in Carbonear and Harbour Grace. Other settlements followed, and by 1675, there were roughly 30 English settlements along the Newfoundland coast from Trepassey north to Bonavista. As these communities took a more permanent hold, the foundation was laid for much of the language, culture and heritage we see in Newfoundland today.
About the Cupids 400 Celebrations
The $3 million dollars announced by Prime Minister Harper will help local organizers stage a number of educational, cultural and social events that will be held throughout 2010.  Events currently planned by Cupids 400 Inc. include:
Cultural Celebrations:  The centerpiece of the Cupids 400 celebrations will include a number of cultural festivals with preliminary plans in place for a Creative Arts Festival, Theatre Festival, Buskers Festival, Folk Festival, and several Historical re-enactments featuring professional performers.
Aboriginal Contact:  In 1612 John Guy explored Trinity Bay and made contact with the Aboriginal people of Newfoundland, the Beothuk. The Cupids 400 committee will work with present day Aboriginal Leaders in the Indeavour Project which will mark this important chapter in Newfoundland history.
Education: The Cupids 400 Celebrations will also include a number of educational tools which will be made available, in both official languages, to interested students and teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout Canada.
Ceremonies: The formal Cupids 400 celebrations will begin with an official opening Ceremony on August 17, 2010, with a full schedule of events planned through to August 22, 2010.
Family Reunions:  The Cupids 400 celebration will include a genealogy program that will help local families trace their family roots and hold 2010 family reunions.
Conventions & Symposiums:  The Cupids 400 committee is actively recruiting international conventions and symposiums to the province in 2010.  Already the Society of Post-Medieval Archaeology is planning to hold its annual conference in Cupids.