This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Thanks to @ybarralde for tipping us off to this Canadian documentary
Director Gil la Roche and journalist Pierre Gauvreau created a documentary about the French islands Saint Pierre et Miquelon, which are situated just next to Newfoundland, for the Canadian National Film Office in 1954. We’ve already talked about these islands on other occasions on our blog, for example, when talking about the sailboat Pakea-Bizkaia in those waters.
It goes without saying that the first Europeans to reach this part of the North American continent with any regularity were the Basques who were participating in one of the most important commercial and industrial activities of the age: whaling, followed by cod fishing.
In this report, we were surprised to find out that, starting at 8:15, there’s a group of cesta punta players in a court with the words “Zazpiak Bat” written overhead. We were also lucky enough to hear the president of the islands’ Zazpiak Bat Association explain how to play this variety of Basque pelota.
This association was founded in 1952. But it is the heir to the Cercle des Zazpiak-Bat founded in 1902, which was the oldest sports club on the islands. At the time, the sport was played against a wooden wall; the current façade was built in 1906 and it underwent several changes before becoming the imposing structure we see today. It goes without saying that the use of this phrase in 1902 surprised us! And it clearly indicates the importance the Basque movement had, encouraged by Antoine d’Abbadie and Augustin Chaho from the Northern Basque Country. It was a movement that encompassed the whole of the Basque territories in their ideal.
Digging a little deeper, we also found some interesting things. For example, every August since 1982, they hold a Basque festival, where we can find dances, harrijasotzailes, haitzkolaris, and obviously, Basque pelota champions.
We’ll leave you with the 1954 Film Office report, videos which show different aspects of the influence of Basque culture on those islands, as well as an entry in the La Francophonie blog at the University of Oregon about these festivals.
ONF/NFG -1954 – Canadá
Court métrage documentaire de la série Sur le vif, qui dresse un portrait des îles françaises Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon situées au large de Terre-Neuve, où la vie est quelque peu différente de celle que l’on mène dans les centres maritimes du Canada. Différentes personnes, dont le maire de Saint-Pierre, nous parlent de l’histoire de ces îles ainsi que du jeu de la pelote basque qui y est pratiqué.
L’archipel de saint pierre et miquelon en un clip
St.Pierre & Miquelon
Experience life in a Basque fishing village on the French islands of St.Pierre and Miquelon.
Explication de la Pelote Basque
Fête Basque 2012
FETE BASQUE SPM 2009