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Princess Sheila Nageira
Princess Sheila Nageira

400 years ago, which is almost at the beginning of Europe’s history in Canada, the Princess Sheila Nageira left Ireland to go to school in France. In her royal family, her mother and father were king and queen of County Connaught, Ireland. They worried about their daughter traveling, but they were at war with England and thought she’d be safer far away from the family. Princess Sheila, who was very loving, hugged her family and told them not to worry.

One night as she traveled across the English Channel to France, Princess Sheila was in the cabin of their small ship when her dog started to bark. The dog heard the sounds of another boat coming towards them, even before the captain’s dog! Princess Sheila and her dog stayed in her cabin, but she could hear the sounds of savage fighting all around her.

They had been captured by Dutch pirates, who took all their treasure. And from her cabin window, Princess Sheila saw her captain and three of his men made to ‘Walk the plank!’ One by one the brave men jumped into the icy ocean water. She wished she could help them!

With the pirates at the helm, Princess Sheila didn’t know where she was going or what might happen to her new family - the rest of the men, and her dog. She tried to comfort them with soothing words, but things looked very grim indeed.

They thought all was lost. Then Princess Sheila’s dog started to bark! A ship had been sent to save them. Their rescuers swiftly defeated the Dutch crew, but since they were on their way to Newfoundland, Princess Sheila and her friends had to travel across the Atlantic Ocean with them.

During the long voyage, Princess Sheila and the sailor Gilbert Pike fell in love – and this ship’s captain married them on deck under a full moon. There was no music on board, only the sound of the waves - and her dog howling in delight!

Gilbert chose to leave the navy and live the quiet (although sometimes dangerous) life of a fisherman in Carbonear. Princess Sheila, one of the only European women living in Newfoundland at that time, was well-loved for the comfort she gave to the sick, and for her hard work planting the crops when the men were away fishing.

She missed her Irish family. And she and Gilbert started the first European family in North America (with her dog too of course!). And Sheila became known as the ‘Carbonear Princess!’

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