Page 25 - A Theory of the Vikings on Cape Breton
ISSUE : Issue 18
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1
land," all Bjarni had to tell Leif was to wait for a fair north or northeast wind and then steer a course to the sou'west imtil he hit the broad coast of Labrador, follow the Labrador, go through the strait (Strait of Belle Isle) and down the west coast of the second land (Newfoundland) . In cleair weather he would never be out of sight of land and would have the advantage of pre? vailing wind from Nain to Cape North. It is easy to imagine Leif Eiriksson coming close inshore at Aspy Bay after leaving St. Paul's astern; setting his square sail to port, and with a fair northwest wind, sail? ing along the shore to view the land, as closely as safety on a strange coast would permit? past Neil's Harbour, Ingonish, and Cape Smokey; then turning southward to in? vestigate Bird Island (Straumsey). Here he would find thousands of birds, an easy place to defend against "the Skraelings." and plenty of fodder for cattle, but no harbour for his ship. He would then sail on "between the island and the cape," past Cape Dauphin and up along the shore through what sailors of a later day would call the "false channel," until the ship grounded on a bar at Carey's Beach. When the tide got slack to turn in, he would re-float the knorr and helped by wind and a strong tide he would sail up the fiord until he came to "a large lake." They explored Lake Bras d'Or to "the land to the westward." That would be West Bay. If you travel to the westward there's no other place that completely fits the des? cription. When Thorvald (Leif's brother) came down, he spent the summer exploring right around Leif's camp. And if my theory is correct they probably explored St. Pat? rick's Channel pretty well. But the next season • they stayed there that winter • they decided to do further exploration and a crew of perhaps 8 or 9 set off in a long? boat to explore to the westward in the Bras d'Or, to where they found many shoals and islands, and a white sand beach. Now the only real white sand beach on this east coast is at Marble Mountain. It's the mar? ble from the hillside that's made it white, completely white. And there they found a corn crib made of wood that the Indians had used for storing corn. One trsinslation says there were mountains there and the land was beautiful to behold • it'' still beautiful. That's one clue.' They explored to the westward, and West Bay fits the pic? ture perfectly. At the same time Thorvald set off in the large boat, the merchant ship, the knorr • and went south and then east along the land • 'till he came to a cape where he ran aground and broke the keel of the ship. I think that was probably Smokey though I've no evidence of that. Then he came a little further to a fiord with a long headland ex? tending out between two fiords • Middle Head (where Keltic Lodge is today). He tied it up to land, so it must have been a very sheltered cove. There are both North and South Bay at Ingonish. They found Indians asleep under a canoe. They murdered all but one who escaped. Next day the Indians at? tacked. And although the Norsemen put up their shields along the gunwale of the boat for protection, an arrow came in between the shields and fatally wounded Thorvald. Before that he had expressed the wish to build his home here because it was such a beautiful place. There are still problems. The wild grapes, for instance, are important. They are not here now but they might have been in for? mer times. (Mowat claims they grew wild in Newfoundland.) Grape pollen is so small and so rare that even a proper pollen analysis would still be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But I think I've gone as far as the texts will take us. We need to find ar? tifacts. I see a settlement here in Cape Breton • but only for four years. Snorri, Karlsefni's son, was born here. That set? tlement was somewhere in the vicinity of Nyanza. I don't think Cow Point is neces? sarily the place • but the river mentioned is Middle River or Baddeck • or both. We can be reasonably certain because they found big salmon in the rivers and one of the translations uses the plural, speaks of rivers. My whole object is to encourage further in-, vestigation. I'd be glad to be proved wrong if it can be done • but it can't be done from the sagas. And the sagas are all we have so far. My principle object is to keep people interested. I believe a proper ar? cheological search will find something. Our thanks to Ron Nash' archeologist. St. Francis Xavier University, who first told us about the work of Mr. Livingston. FUR? THER READING! Mr. Livingston recommends the Gwynn Jones translation of the sagas and WESTVIKING by Mowat for an overview • and we recommend THE VINLAND SAGAS translated by Magnusson and Palsson. CO-OP CX)-IT- YOURSELF Hcxne Improvement Centre Coinp!.1e stocks of lumber, building supplim. Plumbing, HMting and ElKtcical materials. W' Mtar I. Dm bafldbis ifublic ?? • . Component Homes & Cottages COOP Building Supplies Sydney Port Hawkesbury 539-6'10 625-2600
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