This Week in History
Trekking Through the Interior
For the week of Monday September 8, 2008
On September 10, 1822, William Cormack named Mount Clarence; on the same journey he named Mount Sylvester, after his Mi’kmaw guide Sylvester Joe. Mount Sylvester is a formation of rock drumlin located in southern Newfoundland, just below Middle Ridge, approximately eighty kilometres from their departure point. Cormack was the first European to explore the interior of Newfoundland, but he could not have achieved this feat without Sylvester Joe’s knowledge and guidance.
Cormack enlisted the help of a hunter by the name of Sylvester Joe to guide him on his journey. Prior to their main voyage, they embarked on a trial expedition from St. John’s to Placentia Bay and back through Trinity and Conception Bays. After successfully completing the trial expedition the duo set off on their two-month long journey at the end of August. The trip was to be a direct route through the centre of Newfoundland from Trinity Bay in the east to St. George’s Bay in the west.
Little is known of Sylvester Joe. A Mi’kmaw from the Bay D’Espoir region on the south coast of Newfoundland, it is believed that at the time of the expedition he was in his mid 20s. He had a good knowledge of the Gander River, Conne River and Salmon River systems, and the overland routes from Bay d’Espoir to Gander Bay. It is thought that his hunting grounds were in the centre of the island. Nothing is known of the rest of Sylvestor Joe’s life once he and Cormack reached the end of their journey and parted ways in early November 1822.
For his role in the exploration and mapping of Newfoundland, Sylvester Joe has been designated a National Historic Person.
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