John Guy and his colonists wanted to make contact with the Beothuk people who lived at the bottom of Trinity Bay. On September 1, 1612, Henry Crout and seven other settlers left Cupids Cove to walk to Trinity Bay. They cut and marked a trail as they went. Henry described the trip in his diary and in a letter he wrote to Sir Percival Willoughby on September 8, 1612. In 1997 archaeologists from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation led by William Gilbert retraced the route that Henry Crout and the Colonists followed by reading descriptions in the letter and in Crout’s journal.
According to Henry, nobody had ever walked overland from Conception Bay to Trinity Bay before. The following account, based on Henry Crout’s writings describes their original walk.
September 1st, 1612
September 1st was a nice day. The wind blew from the west all day and the sun was shining. First the settlers climbed the hill on the western side of Cupids Harbour. Then they walked down into Salmon Cove. From there they hiked along the south side of South River to where Drogheda is today.
Then they followed the river that flows into South River up unto the ridge between South River and North River. Today this ridge is called the Whale’s Back. From high on the Whale’s Back the explorers could see all the way to Trinity Bay. They set their course to the northwest and continued on.
Henry was really impressed. In his letter he wrote: “We found very fair and large trees especially birch trees in the valleys. I assure you that it will be very good farm land for the earth is excellent good but it needs some men to manure it.” The explorers went six miles the first day and spent their first night somewhere near The-Pond-That-Feeds-The-Brook.
September 2nd, 1612
The next day a cold wind blew from the southeast and the rain poured down. Henry wrote that the sun did not show itself all day. The men kept dry by staying under a tree all day and night. The bread they had brought with them got wet and was ruined.
September 3rd, 1612
There were a few showers the next morning but the explorers continued on. Later the weather cleared up. They traveled northwest past where Country Road and Shearstown Road are today. Then they climbed a hill and came to a barren with a pond in it. This is probably the pond we call Frainey’s Pond today.
Frainey’s Pond is on the high ground between Conception Bay and Trinity Bay. East of Frainey’s Pond all the rivers flow into Conception Bay and west of it all the rivers flow into Trinity Bay. Henry and his men kept walking.
After they passed Frainey’s Pond they came to the place we call the Grassy Gullies. At the Grassy Gullies Henry saw a trail made by herds of caribou moving between the New Harbour Barrens and St. Mary’s Bay. He said that they would have stopped to do some hunting but they were in too much of a hurry.
Once again Henry was impressed with what he saw. He wrote: “It will do a man good to view the forest and woods and see the passage of deer and ducks and geese in great store in every pond.” He also talked about all the beaver houses he saw along the way and said: “A man may very easily travel through the country without any danger at all having but a hatchet in his hand.”
Henry and his men kept on going and before dark they came to a pond that was about three or four miles from Trinity Bay. In the pond were some ducks. They shot some of the ducks for their supper and camped on the side of the pond for the night. Henry says in his diary that there were four beaver houses in the pond. We don’t know exactly where they camped but it was probably somewhere around Loo Pond on the New Harbour Barrens.
September 4th, 1612
The next morning Henry and his men continued walking towards Trinity Bay. Around 10 o’clock in the morning they came to a group of ponds about three miles from Trinity Bay. We know from what Henry wrote that these were Denny’s Pond, Island Pond and Sutton’s Pond on the New Harbour Barrens. They could not find a way around the ponds and all their food had been ruined by the rain so they decided to go back to Cupids Cove.
They turned around and went back to the place where they had camped the night before. They spent the night camped there.
September 5th, 1612
The next day they made it to another pond about six miles from Trinity Bay and spent the night there.
September 6th, 1612
They arrived back in Cupids Cove after dark on September 6th.
September 9th, 1612
On September 9th another group of settlers left Cupers Cove. They were going to finish the trail and cut it wide enough for two men to walk it together. We do not know exactly what happened on this second trip. Henry Crout could not go this time because he had hurt his leg on the first trip but we know that the trail was cut all the way to Trinity Bay.
October 22nd, 1612
On October 22, 1612 John Guy and Henry Crout sailed into Hopeall harbour aboard the Indeavour. John called Hopeall Mount Eagle Bay. He wrote in his journal that Mount Eagle Bay was the place where the trail from Conception Bay entered Trinity Bay.
Crout’s Way Today
Crout’s Way is one of the oldest European trails anywhere in North America. The Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation has been working to develop it as an historic hiking trail since it was rediscovered in 1997.
From William Gilbert on Baccalieu Digs:
The trail can now be followed from Drogheda in Conception Bay all the way to Hopeall in Trinity Bay. The part of the trail between Drogheda and Hopeall has been cleared and marked, some signage has been erected and some basic improvements have been made. However, since the beginning, it has been our intention to leave as little mark on the landscape as possible so that anyone who chooses to retrace the route of these early explorers will have a true wilderness experience. To walk the entire trail takes about two days and it is definitely intended for the experienced hiker.