Dave waves from behind a statue of John Cabot in Bonavista Newfoundland where the Italian explorer is said to have landed in 1497 and claimed North America for the British King Henry VII who had given Cabot money to seek out new lands for England.
The plaque at the statue gave us some more information about John Cabot. He was born in Genoa in 1450 and named Giovanni Caboto by his father who was a spice merchant. John grew up in Venice, married a woman named Mattea and had three sons. One of them Sebastian followed in his explorer father’s footsteps. John thought he was on his way to Asia when he landed in Newfoundland with his crew of 18 men on a fast and able 50 ton ship named The Matthew. (There is some discussion about whether the ship was actually named The Mattea after John Cabot’s wife.)
Some historians say Cabot may have explored the eastern Canadian coast, and that a priest accompanying Cabot might have established a settlement in Newfoundland. John Cabot claimed North America for England, setting the course for England’s rise to power in the 1500s and 1600s.
When Cabot returned to England the king gave him a reward and support for another voyage. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage in 1997 a replica was built of his ship and sailed from Bristol England to Bonavista, Newfoundland.