top of page

Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             


aboard the next day. Although they were the same age, Holland had already proved his prowess in cartography and took the sailing master under his wing. Cook was to learn much from him, Holland’s technique aiding Cook in producing much more accurate surveys.

    He soon had an opportunity to test his new knowledge. After a month at Louisbourg, HMS Pembroke was ordered into the Gulf of St Lawrence as part of a squadron of nine sail under Sir Charles Hardy transporting troops and supporting Wolfe who was one of several officers charged to lead sorties by land and water to lay waste communities in the St Lawrence and harry the French colonists, at least those who didn’t flee into the woods. One of Wolfe’s aides, Captain Thomas Bell wrote of his distaste for the enterprise stating unnecessary suffering was inflicted, but while Wolfe’s troops and their naval boat crews were rampaging ashore, Cook was given the task of conducting a survey of the Bay of Gaspé.

    Most of September was spent in one of the ship’s boats, its crew resting on their oars while he took his landmark sightings and measurements, then took them all again just to check, before adding soundings to his notes. They have a saying in Yorkshire: If a job’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well. There is another which states: You can take the lad out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the lad. Both these applied to Cook.

    Wolfe suggested to Sir Charles Hardy they should push onward to destroy even more French settlements but this was dismissed. Wolfe later wrote to his commander, major-general Amherst, “We have done a great deal of mischief, – spread the terror of His Majesty’s arms through the whole gulf; but have added nothing to the reputation of them.” By then, ill with “gravel and Rheumatism”, he wrote, Wolfe sailed for England only to find on his arrival – he wasn’t a good sailor, so it must have been all the more galling – that orders had been sent for him to remain in America. But his contemplation of the misery of more seasickness to come on another voyage across the Atlantic must have been somewhat alleviated after an interview in London with the Commander-in-Chief of the British army.


...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea


bottom of page