Christoforo Colombo

Historia 1492 - 1635

Early Exploration

The state sponsored voyages of Christoforo Colombo and Giovanni Caboto during the 1490's confirmed for European authorities what successful cod fishermen already knew. A vast land lay to the west. Preceded by almost 13,000 years of indigenous pre-history with possible coastal visits by Viking explorers around 1,000 A.D., our short story in what is now called Nova Scotia begins with Portuguese explorer João Álvares Fagundes attempting to establish a settlement on Cape Breton Island around 1521. Little is known about the location or fate of this settlement. The monument commemorating his exploits is located at Purdy's Wharf in Halifax.

Fish and Fur

Aside from Fagundes' aspirations, early contact was focused on fishing and not settlement. The advent of on-shore drying stations provided an opportunity for visitors and residents to meet. Exchanging furs for European manufactured items created closer ties. Similar to the Portuguese Lançados of West Africa, adoption of Basque, Portuguese and Spanish sailors into Mi'kmaw society occurred as a matter of choice or circumstance that by design or chance facilitated trade. Records from the 1530's reveal that the Mi'kmaq spoke Portuguese trade-pidgin; terminology the French also employed to establish relations.

With defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England, France and the Netherlands became the dominant mercantile powers in the North Atlantic. The Mi'kmaq maintained trade and kinship relations with the French who honoured their agreements with a generous exchange of gifts. Chief Messamouet of the La Hève claimed to a rival chief that he visited Philibert de Grandmont in Bayonne, France and could personally vouch for the magnitude of gifts available. 

First Colonies

The first permanent European colony in Mi'kma'ki was established at Port-Royal by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons in 1605 and was followed by the baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou in 1610. Membertou was the first North American native to be baptized Roman Catholic. According to oral tradition, the resulting concordat negotiated between the Mi'kmaw Grand Council and Holy See is woven on a wampum belt that was delivered by Jesuit missionaries to Pope Paul V as a bona fide sign of good faith and fair dealing. By 1630 Grand Council had declared Saint Anne Patron Saint of the Mi'kmaw people.  

In 1632, Isaac de Razilly naval officer and a Knight Commander of the Order of Malta, founded Fort-Sainte-Marie-de-Grâce at present day La Have. The six Capuchin friars who accompanied de Razilly ministered to the Acadian families and their Mi'kmaw hosts from a chapel and school built next to the fort. Issac de Razilly died in 1635 and the capital of New France transferred to Quebec. A memorial erected by the Priory of Canada, Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1982 stands on the chapel site marking de Razilly's grave.

Today's Knights

Chartered on October 29th, 1972, Knights of Columbus Council 6417 in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia was named after Father Adrian Butts who served as Saint Joseph's Parish priest from 1946 to 1963. In 1981, having paid off the $27,000 mortgage on Saint Joseph`s Parish Centre,  Council 6417 created its present Chambers by refurbishing the abandoned coal bin. Council 6417 remains instrumental in helping to maintain church facilities in addition to providing funds and volunteers for faith programs, charitable projects and community events.

"No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service."  --- Christoforo Colombo

Prayer of Columbus

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. c1900.

A BATTER’D, wreck’d old man,  

Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home,  

Pent by the sea, and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months, 

Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken’d, and nigh to death, 

I take my way along the island’s edge, 

Venting a heavy heart.  

I am too full of woe!  

Haply, I may not live another day;  

I can not rest, O God—I can not eat or drink or sleep,  

Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee,

Breathe, bathe myself once more in Thee—commune with Thee,  

Report myself once more to Thee.  


Thou knowest my years entire, my life,  

(My long and crowded life of active work—not adoration merely;)  

Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth;

Thou knowest my manhood’s solemn and visionary meditations;  

Thou knowest how, before I commenced, I devoted all to come to Thee;  

Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows, and strictly kept them;  

Thou knowest I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in Thee;  

(In shackles, prison’d, in disgrace, repining not,

Accepting all from Thee—as duly come from Thee.)  

All my emprises have been fill’d with Thee,  

My speculations, plans, begun and carried on in thoughts of Thee,  

Sailing the deep, or journeying the land for Thee;  

Intentions, purports, aspirations mine—leaving results to Thee.


O I am sure they really come from Thee!  

The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will,  

The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words,  

A message from the Heavens, whispering to me even in sleep,  

These sped me on.

By me, and these, the work so far accomplish’d (for what has been, has been;)  

By me Earth’s elder, cloy’d and stifled lands, uncloy’d, unloos’d;  

By me the hemispheres rounded and tied—the unknown to the known. 


The end I know not—it is all in Thee;  

Or small, or great, I know not—haply, what broad fields, what lands;

Haply, the brutish, measureless human undergrowth I know,  

Transplanted there, may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee;  

Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turn’d to reaping-tools;  

Haply the lifeless cross I know—Europe’s dead cross—may bud and blossom there.  


One effort more—my altar this bleak sand:

That Thou, O God, my life hast lighted,  

With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee,  

(Light rare, untellable—lighting the very light!  

Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages!)  

For that, O God—be it my latest word—here on my knees,

Old, poor, and paralyzed—I thank Thee.  


My terminus near,  

The clouds already closing in upon me,  

The voyage balk’d—the course disputed, lost,  

I yield my ships to Thee.


Steersman unseen! henceforth the helms are Thine;  

Take Thou command—(what to my petty skill Thy navigation?)  

My hands, my limbs grow nerveless;  

My brain feels rack’d, bewilder’d; Let the old timbers part—I will not part!  

I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me;

Thee, Thee, at least, I know.  

Is it the prophet’s thought I speak, or am I raving?  

What do I know of life? what of myself?  

I know not even my own work, past or present;  

Dim, ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me,

Of newer, better worlds, their mighty parturition,  

Mocking, perplexing me.  

And these things I see suddenly—what mean they?  

As if some miracle, some hand divine unseal’d my eyes, 

Shadowy, vast shapes, smile through the air and sky,

And on the distant waves sail countless ships,  

And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.