The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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400th Anniversary of the town of Cupids

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400th Anniversary of the town of Cupids

Cupids, Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We are celebrating a decisive page of our collective history here, where the adventure of the first British explorers took root, giving birth to English Canada, and in this year marking the 400th anniversary of their establishment at Cupers Cove.

In 1610, merchant John Guy settled here, building the foundations of a community that was proud of its roots, which had been transplanted into American soil.

Others soon followed and buildings were erected, including the first sawmill and brewery in Canada, this island of rare beauty was explored, and alliances were formed with the Beothuks, the Aboriginal people who were already living in the territory.

It is said that by 1613, over 60 people lived at Cupers Cove, where the first child of British origin was born in Canada.

As I said in 2005 in my installation speech, when appointed as the 27th Governor General of Canada, over four centuries ago, this spirit of adventure drove men and women to cross the wide ocean to explore a world that was still unknown to them.

And it was that same spirit of adventure that encouraged the Aboriginal people to share with them the spirit of these generous lands.

Our history, and the history of Cupids in particular, includes both the establishment dreams of those who came before us and the openness of those who welcomed them to their ancestral lands.

Today’s Canada is the result of these two unique adventures.

The entire country is proud of the pioneering role that Cupids played 400 years ago in the Anglophone culture in Canada, the archaeological remains and interpretive centres which remind us of its rich contribution to our history.

My husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, and our daughter Marie-Éden are visiting the archaeological site right now and we are honoured to be with you today to highlight this part of our identity that is so deeply rooted here, to celebrate with you the continued existence of our heritage and to look together to the future with the daring and generosity of those first explorers.

Long live Cupids!

I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you that I am very familiar with the values of solidarity that have always characterized the island population of Newfoundland.

Right from my first official visit here, in July 2006, your pride, your determination, your culture and your humour—integral parts of our fabulous diversity—won over the island woman that I was also born, coming, as you know, from an island in the Caribbean sea, Haiti.

Premier Williams, I would like to tell you once again that I will never forget your telephone call in January to tell me of the solidarity Newfoundlanders felt with Haiti, which had been hit head on by an unprecedented disaster.

Your province is not indifferent and is obviously open to the world.

Moreover, throughout my mandate as Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada, I have had the opportunity to work closely with a Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, who is a son of your island, and I have greatly appreciated his support and advice.

Finally, I want you to know that the numerous accounts I received from many of you when I tried to promote respect for the traditions related to hunting and fishing confirmed with me the importance of defending our ancestral ways of life.

Premier Williams, during my last visit here, I told you that I intended to visit Labrador before the end of my mandate.

Well, I have kept my promise! I am heading there on Thursday. I am looking forward to heading out with the coast guard, of which I am the Honorary Chief Commissioner, to go meet the people of Labrador—to listen to their stories, perspectives, aspirations and to see firsthand what they have accomplished—and complete my map of your province, which has one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world!

It has been a dream of mine for quite some time and my family and I feel infinitely blessed to be able to make it a reality.

But first, Cupids, let us celebrate your beauty and heritage. Congratulations on the realization of your wonderful legacy centre which galvanizes our rich and collective cultures.

Thank you.