Spirit of the Beothuk


Near Boyd’s Cove, on Newfoundland Highway 340, is the Beothuk Interpretation Centre. The Centre provides both a brief history of these people as well as access to the site of a Beothuk Village that underwent an archeological survey in the 1980’s.

This village was located on the shore of what is now Boyd’s Cove. What remains of the village is underground, as it was when the site was rediscovered in the 1980’s, and is not visible. I contrast this invisible history with the very visible one we witnessed on our recent visit to Arles, France (1). Yet, not all historical sites in North America remain sub-terra. L’anse Aux Meadows, on the North-east Coast of Newfoundland, provides a re-creation complete with role-playing actors of a Viking Village [1]. Similarly, the site at Lousibourg on Cape Breton Island, has been partially reconstructed to its mid-18th century state. Many of the major centres across Canada have restored fortresses, such as the Citadels of Halifax and Quebec City, Fort York in Toronto, Fort Henry in Kingston, etc.

Near the site of the village is a statue of Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk, who died in St. John’s in 1829. The Interpretation Centre offers some background:

While travelling to his childhood home, of Exploits Island, renowned artist Gerald Squires envisioned a lone Beothuk woman. This woman he felt was the Spirit of Shanawdithit which inspired him to make the statue “Spirit of the Beothuk”, as a remembrance of her people.

These maquette’s (SIC) and busts were sculpted by him as he developed the concept of the statue. The result was a 6 foot tall bronze figure of a Beothuk Lady, this is on the hiking trail. She is place there as a tribute to all Beothuk People.

Beothuk Interpretation Centre

Shoreline of Boyd’s Cove.
Glimpse of Beothuk Village Site (on right).
Site of Beothuk Village Site.


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